Western University

Project Description

Western University’s original vision for participation in the Open Badges project was to establish six “use-cases” across the institution to evaluate the conceptual feasibility of microcredentialling and the technical feasibility of the CanCred badging platform. We found four other interested collaborators across campus with badging use-cases that spanned curricular, co-curricular, pre-curricular, and professional development domains. At the end of the pilot, we had three collaborators (Ivey Business School, the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, Continuing Studies) and the Centre for Teaching and Learning who piloted nine different badges. During the active phase of the pilot, 202 individuals earned a badge created by a Western collaborator.

From the perspective of the unit coordinating the pilot, the project was a success. While not all institutional partners will continue to award badges or award badges via CanCred, through our assessment of feasibility we have been able to clearly identify aspirations and challenges for micro-credentialling at Western.

Each of the four teams describe their project in more detail below.

Ivey Business School

Our aim is to create badges that enhance pre-class preparation, in-class lessons, and more advanced topics not taught by professors at the school. We also want to make these badges available to alumni of our programs so they can continue to learn, mastering new skills that will ensure they are continually competitive in the job market of the future.

Our original goals and vision were to adopt Open Badges to enhance the more technical aspects of business study and improve our ability for students to differentiate themselves during the school-facilitated recruiting process. We want to increase avenues for students to effectively learn, which will create a better environment in the classroom and provide our recruiters with a more effective base of future employees.

The goals remained the same throughout the pilot, which the team considered to be one of the keys to success.

We consider this pilot a success due to the implementation of badges across the school as a way to upskill alumni, teach current students, and introduce Ivey to prospective students. We are moving forward with a full commercialization effort at Ivey Academy, our new name of our Executive Education division.

School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (SGPS)

The purpose of the Open Badges project conducted by the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (SGPS) was to pilot the use of open badging to recognize doctoral-student participation in a university-wide doctoral professional development program called Own Your Future. Own Your Future is a four-year curriculum-based program that facilitates self-directed professional development learning structured around six professional competencies. Through participation in Own Your Future, doctoral students learn to self-assess and communicate their skills to employers to gain a competitive advantage in today’s labour market.

The goal of the open badging pilot was to evaluate whether recognizing participation in Own Your Future with Open Badges aligns with the program’s long-term goal:

  • To improve the ability of doctoral graduates to find and secure employment.

For the purpose of the pilot, we focused on alignment of Open Badges with the shorter-term goals of Own Your Future, which are:

  • To improve the ability of doctoral students to self-assess and take initiative to expand their knowledge and skills.
  • To improve the ability of doctoral students to articulate their skills to employers.

Specifically, we sought to address the following key evaluation questions:

  • Are we able to define a set of criteria for each competency that reflects “proficiency” in a competency?
  • Do Open Badges increase the ability of doctoral students to articulate their skills to employers?
  • Do employers recognize/value Open Badges as a credible indication of professional skills?

Our goals and vision remained the same over the course of the pilot.

We consider the pilot a success. We were able to prototype an Open Badge for participation in an Own Your Future course, and we consulted with relevant stakeholders to conduct a preliminary analysis of the evaluation questions. We were able to gather sufficient insight from this pilot to address the evaluation questions, resulting in the recommendation that Open Badges not be used to recognize participation in Own Your Future.

Centre for Teaching and Learning

The Centre for Teaching and Learning (CTL) badging project focuses on faculty teaching development within a subset of existing workshops. The badges would be able to contribute to the development of learners’ teaching e-portfolios/dossiers.

Our initial goals for the pilot were to explore possibilities for implementing badges into one of the professional development programs offered through the CTL, and for members of the CTL badge pilot team to work together to prototype and test the badging initiative with faculty and/or graduate student stakeholders.

Our goals remained the same for the duration of the pilot.

We were able to meet our goal of exploring possibilities for implementing badges for professional development. We explored badges in small programs. We were able to identify pertinent opportunities and barriers for implementing badges at the CTL and at Western as a whole.

Western Continuing Studies

Western Continuing Studies (WCS) delivers programs to the surrounding community to achieve its vision of innovative leadership in lifelong learning. The open badging project aligned with several key strategies to help us achieve our vision and goals. Micro-credentialling is an emerging trend in continuing education in Canada. The project provided us with the opportunity to explore the adoption of this important development in accessibility. It also allowed us to test the full function of the CanCred platform in a sandbox environment with minimal risk. The pilot project allowed us to:

  • Experiment with adding a leading-edge technology into our pedagogy and infrastructure.
  • Ensure program excellence by providing opportunities for our instructors to learn new skills and build a community of learning.
  • Expand our learner-centred focus by providing our students with the chance to highlight relevant new skills.

Our original goals were to create and issue (1) professional development badges and (2) non-credit badges.

  1. Professional development badges (recognizing volunteer sessions like orientation, in-person development, and online modules). The badge was designed to motivate and recognize the commitment from our instructors to improve their skills at voluntary professional development workshops. The earned badges would also be used during performance discussions with the instructors. Topics include classroom leadership, rubric construction, lesson planning, etc.
  2. Non-credit badges (e.g., for completion or milestones of non-credit courses). The goal was to implement and assess learner interest in obtaining badges upon completion of a non-credit course, and/or at milestones during the course. The hope was to test uptake of one open badge using a new non-credit course to assess WCS learners’ readiness/interest in this technology and applicability to future non-credit programs and courses. Additionally, we had also hoped to be able to determine how much commitment would be needed by instructors/staff to create and approve the badges.

We shifted our goal from professional development badges for orientation, in-person development, and online modules to recognizing professional development that enhances instructor teaching and facilitation skills. As an alternative to creating one specific badge for various elements, we decided to provide multiple badges, including general attendance of sessions, knowledge application, and creating a community to share ideas.

At the completion of a non-credit workshop course, all successful students received a confirmation of completion. For the pilot project, we did not want to add any additional responsibilities to instructors, and for this reason we wanted to create a badge that recognizes a learner’s ability to apply concepts outside the classroom.

The pilot was a success as it provided an excellent learning opportunity that otherwise might not have occurred at this time due to changes in staffing.

The experience also contributed to the department’s learning and understanding about badges, especially my personal comprehension of badging. This provided a better understanding of what is important, including future platforms, the time commitments required to create a relevant badge, and the time required to assess an application and approve a badge.

As this was our first experience with digital badging, we were unsure of how many applications would be received. For this reason, very little advertising and communication was sent out prior to badges being available. Instead of mentioning that by taking a workshop students could earn a badge, a targeted email was sent to eligible participants after the workshop was completed to inform them of the opportunity to earn a digital badge.

Badging Team Description

Ivey Business School

Project lead: Tom Rochefort (manager, Learning Innovations Initiative, Ivey Business School)
Team members: Dr. Rob Austin (professor of information technology, Joe Paulin (analyst, Learning Innovations Initiative)

We collaborated with a variety of individuals across Ivey. The one group we lacked proper collaboration with was employers. We felt that introducing employers into the equation would have limited the impact we could have had during the course of the pilot.

School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (SGPS)

Project lead: Julie Kaiser (professional development coordinator, SGPS)
Team members: Doctoral Professional Development Implementation Committee, faculty ambassadors, one to two doctoral students, and one to three members of SGPS administrative team

To develop competency-based badges, the professional development coordinator collaborated with other members of the SGPS team (associate vice-provost, postdoctoral services coordinator). The professional development coordinator  also consulted with the course coordinator to identify badge criteria.

To determine whether Open Badges increase the ability of doctoral students to articulate their skills to employers, SGPS created an advisory committee that included two faculty members, one career counsellor, and one educational developer in graduate professional development.

SGPS plans to seek input from employers on the value of badges in the future.

Centre for Teaching and Learning Faculty Development

Project lead: Dr. Gavan Watson (associate director eLearning, Teaching Support Centre)
Team members: Dr. Beth Hundey, Dr. Lauren Anstey

We collaborated with Western University’s communications team to set up a badging style guide.

We created a professional development badge that recognizes faculty and instructors’ participation in a series of e-learning professional development events. One of our events focused on badges and micro-credentials, during which we sought input from our faculty member colleagues.

Western Continuing Studies

Instructor Professional Development

Project lead: Tanya Filipcic (program coordinator, Professional and Corporate Development, Western Continuing Studies)
Team members: Carolyn Young (director, Continuing Studies), Christine Wilton (program manager, Professional Development and Corporate), Nicole Tate-Hill (program manager, Post Degree), Patrick Vanhie (administrative officer)

Non-Credit

Project lead: Tanya Filipcic (program coordinator, Professional and Corporate Development, Western Continuing Studies)
Team members: Carolyn Young (director, Continuing Studies), Christine Wilton (program manager, Professional Development and Corporate), Nicole Tate-Hill (program manager, Post Degree), Patrick Vanhie (administrative officer)

Collaborations:

  • Consulted with the director and program managers to see how they envisioned the badges being used. Helped to assess previous knowledge and ensure visions were aligned to scope of the pilot.
  • For the design thinking badge, contacted an instructor that was using badges at another institution to learn from their badging methods.
  • Tested the design thinking badge issuing process with two students in the workshop (also WCS colleagues).
  • Attended meetings with other Western pilot participants.
  • In December 2018, presented at a meeting at Western Continuing Studies to provide an explanation, share draft badges, and seek input on digital badges and update my colleagues on the progress to date.
  • A sample badge was created for our customer service team to test out the badging instructions and ensure that the customer service team could provide basic troubleshooting.

Badging System Structure

Please see Appendix C for details.

User Experience

Ivey Business School

  1. How often did you use the CanCred platform?

Five times.

  1. What aspects of the CanCred platform did you like or dislike?

I did not like much at all. I disliked the entire user experience. It was awkward, clumsy and not user friendly at all. Furthermore, the idea that we had to pay to keep our badge pilots active is not a sustainable model. Additionally, any sort of regional application like this will not survive the shake-out phase of the industry life cycle. Credentialling is not a big money game and therefore small players like CanCred will not survive.

  1. Did you experience any technical issues with the CanCred platform during the sandbox period and if yes, how were they handled?

No.

  1. What was your experience with training, orientation and support for the CanCred platform?

Not great.

School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies

  1. How often did you use the CanCred platform?
  • January 2019: badge creation, six hours over one month.
  • May 2019: badge issuing, two hours; badge approval, one hour.
  1. What aspects of the CanCred platform did you like or dislike?

Likes:

  • Appreciated that you could add a redirect URL after an applicant has completed the application.
  • Ability to create email templates and contact lists.

Dislikes:

  • Not able to personalize reply-to email through CanCred; I had to email students ahead of time to tell them to expect an email from CanCred when inviting them to apply to the badge.
  • Not able to include first and last names of recipients in contacts list to personalize the email.
  • Option to upload a file into the badge criteria.
  1. Did you experience any technical issues with the CanCred platform during the sandbox period and if yes, how were they handled?

I was not aware that it was up to the recipient to select whether or not the evidence is displayed on their badge. When developing a badge application, I selected “yes” in the “use application form as evidence” section; however, this did not result in the evidence being displayed on the badge when I tested it.

I was able to resolve this issue with help from CanCred support. They explained that it is up to the badge earner to display the evidence, and they showed me how a badge earner can choose to display the evidence in the badge settings.

  1. What was your experience with training, orientation and support for the CanCred platform?

See above.

Centre for Teaching and Learning

  1. How often did you use the CanCred platform?

Roughly once every two weeks.

  1. What aspects of the CanCred platform did you like or dislike?

Likes:

  • Ability to use different badge criteria for earning.
  • Relatively simple to initially create the badge.

Dislikes:

  • Navigating the Creator tools with multiple levels of messaging—it was not always clear why information needed to be repeated.
  • Not clear to earners how to share/keep their badges.
  • Not clear how to allow users to share their artifacts.
  • Badge earners have to go through too many steps to earn and claim their badge.
  • During badge creation in badge factory, the information to be entered seems at times redundant.
  1. Did you experience any technical issues with the CanCred platform during the sandbox period and if yes, how were they handled?

Badge users were unable to upload their work via the attachments tool (for our badge and for a badge within Western Continuing Studies). We notified contacts at CanCred and it was fixed in 26 days. In the meantime, we changed our badges to not require an attachment.

One of our badge .png files was off by one pixel in size and was unable to be uploaded. I was able to change the size but this strict requirement is something to keep in mind.

  1. What was your experience with training, orientation, and support for the CanCred platform?

The initial response to a request for support was fast, but the issue took a month to reach resolution, as described by the Western Continuing Studies badge pilot team below.

Continuing Studies

  1. How often did you use the CanCred platform?
  • September to January: 12 to14 hours per month in the platform.
  • January to August: 10 to 12 hours per month.

The average time to review, verify, and approve an application for a badge was approximately 20 minutes.

  1. What aspects of the CanCred platform did you like or dislike?

Likes:

  • I found it was a fairly easy system to use once I understood how to find the item I wanted to adjust (e.g., “active from date”; I needed to go into the badge application instead of the badge library).
  • Ability to return a badge application with a personal message alerting the applicant why badge was returned. This seemed like a better approach than denying a badge.
  • CanCred is affordable.

Dislikes:

  • Would have been better if you could edit all the items from the badge library section rather than from the badge application section/milestone badges.
  • Wish that you could see badge settings without having to edit them.
  • Not able to add a hyperlink within the message being sent out to the student.
  • Not being able to alter backpack details. Found it confusing that students received an email from badges@ecampusontario. This was resolved by providing information to the participants that this was a pilot project and where they would see the emails coming from.
  1. Did you experience any technical issues with the CanCred platform during the sandbox period and if yes, how were they handled?

A badge application required applicant to upload an attachment. During testing when I attempted to upload an attachment, I received an error. I reached out to Gavan Watson to test and verify that he received the same error on May 2. Gavan confirmed he received an error and reached out to Don Presant. Don opened a ticket. On May 8, Don followed up with again due to a lack of response. On May 16, another follow-up was sent. On May 17, heard back that there was an issue with architecture of the Canadian CanCred cloud and would require moving the installation to a different Canadian cloud service provider which was expected to be done in June. On May 28, heard that the issue was resolved. Issue took a month in total to complete.

  1. What was your experience with training, orientation, and support for the CanCred platform?

Gavan Watson and Lauren Anstey provided an excellent overview of the CanCred platform during an initial meeting with other pilot participants. When I ran into an issue, Gavan was willing to test, verify an issue, and escalate the issue to the next level.

When it came time for me to start exploring the platform on my own, I found it fairly intuitive and when in doubt I checked the FAQ section or other badge designs. I spent time creating a badge, making minor adjustments, and seeing how it changed the badge to get a better idea of what the platform could do.

Value

Ivey Business School

  1. Describe the methodologies and results from the data gathered from your badge earners and badge consumers (as relevant).

Completion rates:

  • 18% of those who accepted an invitation to the micro-credential pilot participated in part or all of a micro-credential.
  • 26% of those who start a micro-credential complete it.

Benefits:

At the beginning and end of each micro-credential, students were asked to assess their current level of proficiency in IT concepts or cybersecurity, as applicable, on a 5-point Likert scale with 1 being “Not at all proficient” and 5 being “Extremely proficient.”

  • For students who successfully completed the IT concepts micro-credential, average proficiency response increased from 2.52 to 3.37.
  • For students who successfully completed the cybersecurity micro-credential, average proficiency response increased from 1.90 to 3.43.

Feedback:

In a closing survey, students were asked for feedback regarding their experience.

  • 96% of respondents found micro-credentials to be an effective learning tool.
  • 96% of respondents would use this tool as alumni to brush up on business topics.
  • 54% of respondents would pay to have access to this tool if they weren’t Ivey students.
  • Students who would be willing to pay for badging products would be willing to pay, on average, $26 for a badge.
  1. Include any survey instruments or other supporting documents as attachments.

Please see Appendix C.

  1. Describe how you will communicate these results back to wider community or stakeholders.

We will be hosting town halls to socialize the impact of the pilot. We have also rolled out this as a product and, as such, will be spending on marketing to raise awareness of our new product.

School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (SGPS)

  1. Describe the methodologies and results from the data gathered from your badge earners and badge consumers (as relevant).

Badge earners were redirected to a survey upon completion of the Leader Character Badge application that asked the following series of Likert-scale questions with answers ranging from 1 (strongly agree) to 5 (strongly disagree):

  • I feel that a digital badge adequately recognizes the professional development program I completed. Mean response: 1.6, n = 12
  • I was happy to receive a digital badge for completing a professional development program. Mean response = 1.4, n = 12
  • I would rather earn a digital badge than a certificate of completion (on paper) for professional development activities. Mean response = 1.8, n = 12
  • The digital badge seems credible to me. Mean response = 1.75, n = 12
  • I am interested to participate in more professional development to earn more digital badges. Mean response = 1.2, n = 12
  • I plan to include digital badges in conjunction with a portfolio of work to document my professional development work. Mean response = 1.6, n = 12
  • I plan to include digital badges on my LinkedIn or other social media profile. Mean response = 1.3, n = 12
  • I plan to print the PDF file as a certificate to add to a physical portfolio. Mean response = 1.8, n = 12

The Leader Character digital badge is being piloted as one badge in a series of three that PhD students can earn to receive a milestone badge that recognizes completion of the Leadership competency in the Own Your Future program.

Please share any additional thoughts, questions, concerns you have regarding digital badges.

  • “I think it’s a great recognition.”
  • “This is a great idea and opportunity for Western graduate students! Thank you!”
  • “I have not seen digital badges in the past, so I am not sure how credible they will appear to prospective employers.”
  1. Include any survey instruments or other supporting documents as attachments.

Link to feedback survey: https://uwo.eu.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_3meVDtOm0mW8mUt

  1. Describe how you will communicate these results back to wider community or stakeholders.

We planned a panel presentation at the Fall Perspectives on Teaching Conference, Western University, August 2018: Lessons from Early Adopters: Digital Badging at Western.

Centre for Teaching and Learning

  1. Describe the methodologies and results from the data gathered from your badge earners and badge consumers (as relevant).

N/A

  1. Include any survey instruments or other supporting documents as attachments.

N/A

  1. Describe how you will communicate these results back to wider community or stakeholders.

Our primary source of information is user experience from the badge issuers. We will be hosting a panel session (Lessons from Early Adopters: Digital Badging at Western) at our annual fall teaching and learning conference and also writing a report for the Western community.

Western Continuing Studies

  1. Describe the methodologies and results from the data gathered from your badge earners and badge consumers (as relevant).

Although the application rate was lower than expected, the claim rate was quite high. For the design thinking, 73% of the badges were claimed (8 out of the 11 approved applications). For the WCS learning community badges, the claim rate for the Participate badge was 79%, and for the Apply and Share badge it was 100%.

Applications for the Design Thinking badge were low. When we followed up with those students who were interested in applying but didn’t follow through, the standard response was “I forgot” or “I just didn’t have time.” Of those applications received, the artifacts supplied were really well written and indicated that thought did go into application. In fact a few students supplied additional documentation in the form of a journey map to support their written document.

For applications that were left in progress, we reached out to see if there was anything we could do to help them complete their application. If the application was sent back for revision, we provided a detailed explanation of why the application had not yet been approved.

Application status from CanCred report:

  • Design Thinking: Approved (11), In Progress (2), Returned (4)
  • WCS Learning Community, Participate: Approved (11), In Progress (1)
  • WCS Learning Community: Apply (2)
  • WCS Learning Community: Share: Approved (1), Returned (1)
  1. Include any survey instruments or other supporting documents as attachments.

N/A

  1. Describe how you will communicate these results back to wider community or stakeholders.
  • Late June: prototype team members had a meeting to share the badging results. A discussion was held on future plans for badging at WCS.
  • Next steps for communication: final results from the pilot project and next steps will be discussed with the WCS team.

Challenges

The challenges summarized below were identified by the four partners involved in the pilot.

Sustainability of Badge Metadata

At the vendor level, the major threat is related to the sustainability of the metadata behind earned badges. CanCred only guarantees that badge metadata will be accessible for 24 months after a subscription ends, so we are now working with the assumption that any badges earned during the pilot will no longer be viable after two years.

It is the contention of the institution that any badges awarded for academic achievement must not disappear, which has implications for curricular badging projects with CanCred. Prototype teams with pre-curricular projects also noted that it was part of their project design for in-program students to have access to badges to demonstrate the achievement of program outcomes up to 36 months after achieving a badge.

A badge record store, independent of the vendor’s system to create and award badges, is an integral component of a fully viable badging system. Subscribing to a badge record store to ensure that micro-credentials are sustainable increases the cost of a badging system.

Institutional Micro-credential Policy Gap

At the institutional level, we need to address the need for oversight in the creation of curricular badges and approval of badge criteria. The role of micro-credentials as ways to evidence competencies needs to be clearly defined in the institution’s landscape, where there are already departmental and faculty-level processes in place, aligned to Senate policy and procedures, to provide oversight on the approval of new or major changes to courses and programs. If a micro-credentialling policy is put in place for oversight of criteria and design, this will carry staffing costs.

Branding

The regional specific brand CanCred prevents commercialization of badges into global markets. Furthermore, the lack of white-labelling prevents school specific branding on the backpack pages.

Integration with LMS System

At Western we have a working integration with Sakai, the learning management system (LMS). The implementation of this integration with the LMS may be important to the overall success of the badging pilot.

Integration with Registration System

Western Continuing Studies recommends an integration with their registration system, DestinyOne. DestinyOne is currently being used by five other schools in Ontario, and another badging platform, Credly, currently has an integration with DestinyOne. Continuing Studies feels that having a badging platform that has an integration point with DestinyOne will provide a seamless process for students to apply for badges. Additionally, it will allow the display of badges (and metadata) in our instructor profiles found on our website.

Badging versus Co-Curricular Record

Badges or micro-credentials offered through Western will need be clearly defined to distinguish from the co-curricular record (WCCR). Currently, items on the co-curricular record are coordinated through the university and validated by staff members. Because the co-curricular record could be perceived to have a similar role to a badging platform on campus, communication concerning badges will need to emphasize the utility and difference of Open Badges. For example, whereas WCCR chronicles participation in co-curricular activities outside of the classroom, badges can represent curricular competencies and non-credit learning experiences. Badges can also be used to recognize achievements and competencies for graduate student and non-student members of the university community, whereas the WCCR is geared for undergraduate students.

Employer Recognition

Badges can be used to demonstrate competencies to our students’ future employers, but to do so employers need to recognize badges in general and, in particular, Western’s brand of badges. Therefore, a challenge is in employer recognition of badges and also ensuring that Western’s badges are only awarded for demonstrating the outcomes of meaningful learning experiences.

Future Plans

Ivey Business School

  1. Indicate if and how your badging initiative will continue.

Via a commercialized product through our Executive Education department.

  1. Describe what you might need and how you will ensure the quality and sustainability of your badge system.

We will need approximately $200k of annual overhead which includes a product manager, product coordinator, and associated fixed costs.

  1. Include details around any third-party endorsement, monitoring, and success indicators as well as plans for scaling up and/or engaging new partners.

We will be working to build a comprehensive strategy once we staff this new division with the right folks. Please feel free to contact me at a later date for additional information.

School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (SGPS)

  1. Indicate if and how your badging initiative will continue.

SGPS does not plan to continue using Open Badges to recognize participation in Own Your Future.

To address our question, “Are we able to define a set of criteria for each competency that reflects ‘proficiency’ in a competency?”, the professional development coordinator (PDC) consulted with the course coordinator to identify the course activities that could serve as criteria for competency recognition, and three criteria were determined: passing grade (i.e., participation) in the course, development and facilitation of a workshop, and a reflective essay. When this same approach was applied to mapping out an open badging constellation for the full program, the PDC encountered the following challenge:

Own Your Future recognizes that doctoral students come into their studies from a variety of backgrounds and each has unique personal and professional goals. Therefore, there are no required workshops/courses that students must take. Rather, Own Your Future is intended to empower students to assess their own needs and skills and engage in strategic professional development (inside and outside the program) to meet their personal and professional goals.

The team therefore decided that Open Badges are not ideal for recognizing participation in Own Your Future at this time because the primary intention of Own Your Future is for students to be the primary evaluators of their skill proficiency and not a formalized credential.

To address our question “Does an Open Badge increase the ability of doctoral students to articulate their skills to employers?” an advisory committee (two faculty members, one career counsellor, one educational developer) met to discuss how different “credentiallizing” options, including Open Badges, might align with Own Your Future’s goal of improving the ability of students to articulate their professional skills to employers. The committee agreed that, ultimately, for students to articulate their skills, they first need to be aware of the skills they develop in their PhD and reflect on their personal and professional growth throughout their PhD. Only then can they create a narrative that articulates the unique abilities they bring to the workplace. A survey of students who received an Open Badge through the pilot project indicated that students planned to include their badge on their social media profile and/or a physical career portfolio. However, more data is needed to determine if Open Badges helps students reflect on and/or communicate their skills. Given that SGPS has data supporting that another program component, the Own Your Future Self-Assessment, does increase doctoral students’ awareness of the skills they develop and helps them articulate their skills, the team concluded that, without more evidence, Open Badges do not bring additional value to meeting the Own Your Future goal of improving the ability of doctoral students to articulate their skills to employers.

To address our question “Do employers recognize Open Badges as a valuable indication of professional skills?” the team consulted with the Career Services unit at Western to gain their insight into how employers perceive credentials, such as co-curricular records. SGPS was not able to consult with employers in the time frame of the Open Badges pilot.

The Career Services team advised that employers value the ability of candidates to articulate their professional skills over the presence of a “credential” representing the professional skill in a career portfolio or on an online profile. SGPS is in the process of creating an Employer Advisory Committee to explore this topic further. However, for the time being, the team concluded that without more evidence to suggest that Open Badges increase the competitiveness of a candidate, Open Badges do not align with the Own Your Future goal of improving the ability of doctoral graduates to find and secure employment.

  1. Describe what you might need and how you will ensure the quality and sustainability of your badge system.

N/A

  1. Include details around any third-party endorsement, monitoring, and success indicators as well as plans for scaling up and/or engaging new partners.

N/A

Centre for Teaching and Learning

  1. Indicate if and how your badging initiative will continue.

We are extending the pilot by one year (to August 2019). We will offer the eLearning Lunch and Learn, the Lesson Design, and the Lesson Facilitator badges again. We will consider incorporating badges into our existing graduate and faculty development certificates, which are made up of a flexible suite of other professional and teaching development activities.

  1. Describe what you might need and how you will ensure the quality and sustainability of your badge system.

We will need to explore the badge record store and other options to ensure sustainability of the badges. We will also need to further investigate institutional barriers on badges.

  1. Include details around any third-party endorsement, monitoring and success indicators as well as plans for scaling up and/or engaging new partners.

N/A

Continuing Studies

  1. Indicate if and how your badging initiative will continue.

Alternative badging platforms are under review and consultation with other schools using badging is underway. As DestinyOne has an established partnership with Credly, this platform is being considered.

The Instructor Professional Development badges will continue in either CanCred or another system. Future badges will be promoted during upcoming events to encourage applications. New badges will be designed to focus on on-boarding and orientation of instructors. Program managers will become application reviewers to help promote professional development badges and use the application documentations during an evaluation process.

Exploration of other badges are being considered for other areas of Continuing Studies programming:

  • More non-credit courses, such as the accelerated project management program. A series of badges are being considered as a way to motivate and acknowledge a student’s successful completion of the knowledge areas as identified within the PMBoK (Project Management Book of Knowledge).
  • Badges within credit programs. Creation of a Components of Professional Conduct badge is being considered, whereby the credit students can choose to participate in spark session/workshop programming that will complement skills being obtained in the program. For example, credit students could complete a spark session on “strategies for resilience and success” and “sparking creativity and engagement” that will help them become more successful in their future practicum or career.
  • Corporate training. Instead of issuing a certificate of completion, a specialized badge could be created to acknowledge the completion of the course/workshop.
  1. Describe what you might need and how you will ensure the quality and sustainability of your badge system.

Staff resources would be the key to helping ensure the quality of the badge system. Instructors would need to be educated on how to create and incorporate meaningful badging into their curriculum. We would also need to ensure that the instructor is supported through the approval process.

We need a dedicated badging platform so that all our badges are housed in the same place. A shared platform with other departments would reduce financial costs and increase the local resources available to troubleshoot questions, research solutions, and generate ideas on badge creation without placing too much strain on one department.

  1. Include details around any third-party endorsement, monitoring and success indicators as well as plans for scaling up and/or engaging new partners.
  • Provincial guidelines for Ontario universities issuing badges ensures validity and integrity of badges issued.
  • Badges for the accelerated project management program require endorsement from the Project Management Institute (PMI). PMI currently has digital badges through Acclaim, so would need to verify that there are no overlaps between our badges and other badges.
  • Education of the general population is crucial. When the director or program managers mention digital badging or micro-credentials to corporate partners, they often need to explain what they are. Having a brief information package on badging might help employers learn more about them and realize the significance of them.
  • Report on how the badges are being shared by WCS students.

Lessons Learned

Lessons Learned

  • Badges have a bottom-up appeal (different partners at the institution have ideas for implementing badges in their own program or context), but they also require clear institutional policy and governance structure in order to ensure quality. Interest out-paced policy, which threatens our badging initiative’s viability.
  • A badging platform needs to guarantee metadata sustainability and data ownership. It is disappointing that CanCred requires an additional subscription fee for the institution to host its own Badge Record Store (BRS) but, without that BRS, does not guarantee retaining the metadata after a subscription ends. Without ensuring the perpetuity of badge metadata, badges will not be adopted for curricular purposes.
  • Collaboration and partnership from across our campus was key to the success of the pilot.  We learned different lessons about what works (and doesn’t work), and can make a better case for launching badges after knowing how it works with multiple partners.