There are learning, fundraising, and advocacy programs where there weren’t before. We’re empowering hundreds of thousands of people to teach each other the web. We’ve built a $15M/y fundraising program from scratch. And we’ve helped Mozilla find its voice again, playing a lead role in the most significant grassroots policy victory in a generation and the largest ever in telecommunications: the battle for net neutrality.
I’m grateful to Mark and Mitchell Baker for the opportunity and trust to help build something great, to my colleagues for their focus and dedication, and to all of Mozilla for fighting the good fight.
While the 10th will be my last day as an employee, I’ll be around until the end of June as a consultant, helping with the transition of my portfolio to new leadership. I’ll announce my new home closer to that time.
For now, as always, once a Mozillian always a Mozillian.
Thanks again to all of you. I’m looking forward to seeing what we accomplish next.
TL;DR: I’m leaving Mozilla as a paid contributor because, as of next week, I’ll be a full-time consultant! I’ll write about that in a separate blog post.
Around four years ago, I stumbled across a project that the Mozilla Foundation was running with P2PU. It was called ‘Open Badges’ and it really piqued my interest. I was working in Higher Education at the time and finishing off my doctoral thesis. The prospect of being able to change education by offering a different approach to credentialing really intrigued me.
I started investigating further, blogging about it, and started getting more people interested in the Open Badges project. A few months later, the people behind MacArthur’s Digital Media and Learning (DML) programme asked me to be a judge for the badges-focused DML Competition. While I was in San Francisco for the judging process I met Erin Knight, then Director of Learning at Mozilla, in person. She asked if I was interested in working on her team. I jumped at the chance!
During my time at Mozilla I’ve worked on Open Badges, speaking and running keynotes at almost as many events as there are weeks in the year. I’ve helped bring a Web Literacy Map (originally ‘Standard’) into existence, and I’ve worked on various projects and with people who have changed my outlook on life. I’ve never come across a community with such a can-do attitude.
This June would have marked three years as a paid contributor to the Mozilla project. It was time to move on so as not to let the grass grow under my feet. Happily, because Mozilla is a global non-profit with a strong community that works openly, I’ll still be a volunteer contributor. And because of the wonders of the internet, I’ll still have a strong connection to the network I built up over the last few years.
I plan to write more about the things I learned and the things I did at Mozilla over the coming weeks. For now, I just want to thank all of the people I worked with over the past few years, and wish them all the best for the future. As of next week I’ll be a full-time consultant. More about that in an upcoming post!
What’s happening at the Mozilla Foundation? This post contains the presentation slides from our recent Board Meeting, plus an audio interview with Executive Director Mark Surman. It provides highlights from 2014, a brief summary of Mozilla’s 2015 plan, and a progress report on what we’ve achieved over the past three months.
Grew contributors and ground game. (10,077 active contributors total.)
Prototyped new Webmaker mobile product
Expanded community programs by 3x
Mozilla’s 2015 Plan
Mozilla-wide goals: grow long-term relationships that help people and promote the open web. By building product and empowering people.
Webmaker+ goal: Expand participation in Webmaker through new software and on the ground clubs.
Building Mozilla Learning
By 2017, we’ve built Mozilla Learning: a global classroom and lab for the citizens of the web. Part community, part academy, people come to Mozilla Learning to unlock the power of the web for themselves, their organizations and the world.
2015 Mozilla Foundation goals
Deepen learning networks (500 cities)
B uild mass appeal learning product (250k Monthly Active Users)
Craft ambitious Mozilla Learning and community strategy
Q1 Mozilla Foundation highlights
Major victory in US net neutrality, with Mozilla getting 330k people to sign a petition.
Launched Webmaker app at Mobile World Congress. Strong interest from partners, possible link to Orange FirefoxOS launch in Africa and Middle East.
Creating a catalog of curriculum & educational programming for a project as diverse as Mozilla isn’t exactly easy. We use a variety of pedagogies, we have different target audiences, we are starting from different places. There are semantics, politics, and relationships we have to consider when organizing learning materials and programming. And, a little secret, everyone organizes information a little differently, which can make it hard to see the relationships, understand the politics or even just agree on semantics.
But we have to organize information in a variety of ways because we have a variety of learners. The best way to serve our learners is to utilize each other’s work, and the best way to do that is by making mash-ups and remixes from one another’s work.
I’m quite pleased to see the vision of modular curriculum taking hold, and quite proud that we are creating an ecosystem of building blocks that will allow us to remix.
I’m remixing my heart out, so here’s what I’ve been working on and notes on stuff I’m planning to steal:
Melissa Romaine is thinking about teaching and learning modules that people especially interested in specific policy or advocacy topics can utilize to spread the word about important web issues and how to address them. She’s looking to build teaching kits and engagement activities to help people teach and train others in topics like Security, Privacy, Surveillance, Covalense and Suvaillence.
Andre Garzia is beginning to think about Advocacy as well, and is looking to continue testing curriculum in LAN Houses – a huge value add to what we’re doing with Club Curriculum because we can see what works and iterate on the fly.
The open science team was awarded a grant to level up their own professional development programming, and begin creating curriculum for the open science community. Bill Mills, Abby Cabunoc and Arliss Collins are also building out a fellowships program, complete with professional development and curriculum for train the trainers. They are focusing on technical skills for science, but also open source attitude and participation. I’m already pulling some of Mozilla Science’s stuff into Teach Like Mozilla, but plan on stealing more (often :)
Emma Irwin wrote a great post about building curriculum & training opportunities as a way to better empower contributor success on project goals. The potential for volunteers is the opportunity for professional development and a new realization of contribution as a singular learning opportunity. The opportunity for functional areas (and all of Mozilla) is to reach goals with higher quality contributions, and greater impact. Things like conflict resolution and facilitation modules to help events and communities be more empathetic, supportive and participatory by nature are core to this team’s learning objectives.
We’re talking regularly, and using and remixing things Emma has been working on is going to make the Teach Like Mozilla content top notch. We're also trying to set ourselves up so that in the future we can easily pull all this great content together under a Mozilla Learning banner.
Lukas Blakk has an entire program, complete with 6 weeks of curriculum, that aims to help marginalized communities learn to contribute to open source. This curriculum pulls personal development into professional development and has weeks and weeks of agendas – I want to make sure Teach Like Mozilla does personal development and reflection too.
Chris Mills also has an entire program, complete with curriculum, that teaches the basic technologies of the web, and that is the fodder for MDN’s new “Content Kits”. Also at the MDN, Jeremie Patonnier, Justin Crawford and Diane Tate are a: friendly and 2: figuring out how the MDN can better support their communities with the Learning Zone, experiments and a fellowship program for developers in which fellows will develop teaching kits while contributing to Mozilla projects. I'm keeping my eye on the MDN work :)
For me, the next step is to develop a solid organizing structure for Teach Like Mozilla content. I’ve had conversations about the overarching structure and it’s time to get into the dirty details – which, as you might have guessed, I have several ideas for. The meta bit is 3-fold:
Meta-cognitive: Theories and Pedagogies (for learning) conceptually and in practice
Logistical: Practicalities of working openly. Building systems and processes to support collaborative work.
Social: Networking local activity with global communities (and vice versa)
The devil is in the details – the organizing structure will help me figure out how to take all of this amazing work and crochet it into a usable set of modules that is cohesive in style and voice. I love your feedback and comments, and I'm always happy for help. Please do reach out!
There is democratizing technology and authoritarian technology. I’ve written about that in the past. However, there is more than one way to approach this. You can look at the technology itself, its inherent features and how they are likely to lead one toward more authoritarian or democratizing structures. That, for example, is present in debates about gun control. Some argue that guns, by their nature, are designed to shoot things, including people. As such, people might push for more regulation and control around them, resulting in a more authoritarian ecosystem within which guns reside. Others look at the social landscape and argue that there are plenty of examples where guns are present, but violence with guns is low or absent. They are not necessarily looking at the affordances and limitations of the technology directly, but they are instead examining how it developed in a give context. As a result of their approach, they may argue for maintaining a larger democratizing ecosystem for the technology of guns. In reality, both of these factors are constantly at work with the assimilation of a technology in a new context. There are inherent affordances and limitations to the technology that make some things possible and other things more likely. At the same time, there are complex individual and societal forces that impact how it develops, especially the power structures that develop alongside a given technology.
Read the piece in full by clicking the link above.
Kate Coleman, of Deakin University, said “we need to start talking about new models of learning, education and business models rather than retro-fitting to realise the potential of the disruption” - an interesting stance, as Carla pointed out, as we often hear that “retrofitting is a requirement for adoption and growth,” perhaps indicating that Australia is ahead of other countries in pushing badges forward;
Tim Riches, of Digital Me, said that various trust models for badges are emerging, and this year will bring ”proof points emerg[ing] around conneting badge earners to work experience / employment opportunities”
Serge Ravet, of Badge Europe, shared concerns about the fragmentation in thought and discourse that comes from talking about “micro-credentials” (something echoed in a 2013 blog post by Carla Casilli). He also brought up the distinction and potential confusion around trust and security: “‘security’ is embedded in ‘trust’, but once trust diminishes, ‘security’ becomes external; trust is free, security without trust has a cost, hence there is a business model for security without trust, a more open one for “open trust.””
Follow the rest of the conversation by clicking the links above for the discussion notes and audio recording.
Our Director of Policy + Practice, Carla Casilli, wrote a thought-provoking piece inspired by a recent Twitter conversation about the future of education and the role of badges:
During a recent Twitter foray, I jumped into an ongoing conversation about where education is headed and the role that badges might play in where education is headed. The discussion stemmed from Kevin Carey‘s insightful and provocative NYTimes article, “Here’s What Will Truly Change Higher Education: Online Degrees That Are Seen As Official” (based on an excerpt from The End of College.) During that Twitter exchange, Anya Kamenetz (who has recently written The Test) was commenting on Carey’s book and mentioned that she felt that badges have been operating in—and will continue to operate in—perpetual beta. When I asked her why she felt this to be true, she tweeted, “I don’t see the value.” I tweeted back saying that badge value was prismatic. This post is an exploration of that position.
This week the team and community looked at the recent report from the Carnegie Foundation on the Credit Hour (download the report here).
The report, as reviewed by Inside Higher Ed, argues that “the credit hour is an inadequate unit for measuring student learning. Yet no better replacement for higher education’s gold standard has emerged, and getting rid of it right now would be risky.” We asked our community to weigh in on our discussion board, and you can follow that thread here: http://bit.ly/OB_CarnegieReport
We continued this conversation on this week’s community call, where a number of attendees echoed some of the IHE commentary, that “the credit hour is a measure of instruction, not a measure of learning,” but, as Carla Casilli eloquently put, it “is *the* archetypal measurement tool for education today” and simply removing it would indeed be risky, creating a vacuum that currently can’t be adequately filled by alternative credentials or assessment methods.
Others, including Nate Otto, talked about the role badges could play in this future space. The fact that “transcripts are hard to translate” is known by many employers who have echoed these sentiments about GPAs, letter grades and transcripts. Those working on open badges software are hoping to find ways to translate value using badges, creating networks of trust across education and the workforce.
For testing clubs this first quarter, we followed this process:
Invite testers. We talked to allies about the opportunity and invited them to join the testing process. Each tester was given the dedicated support of a staff member to ensure they had direct and regular contact with the project.
Kickoff call with testers. We initiated testing with a community call, which we continued to host fortnightly as an important check-in and reflection point. We used Vidyo and etherpad for the calls.
1:1 Interviews. To better understand our allies needs, we conducted 40+ interviews with them. We collated and analysized the data, which greatly informed our efforts.
Affiliate comparison. In parallel, we also reviewed 10+ other organizations who have a club model or other form of local group organizing. This review gave us best practices to learn from.
Curriculum curation. The testing process was two-part: curriculum curating and curriculum testing. To curate, we developed a curriculum arc (Reading the Web, Writing the Web, and Participating on the Web) and then sought existing activities to fill that out. Where there were gaps, we created or remixed new activities. This work was done on Github to great effect.
Curriculum testing. Every two weeks, our testers were invited to try out the latest curriculum section. We shared reflections and questions in Discourse and used our fortnightly check-in call to discuss our experience and feedback on the sections.
Assessment is hard. We know how important it is for benchmarks. We want to know how effective the curriculum is. We created brief questionnaires in Google Docs and made them part of the testing process. But the responses were low. This continues to be a challenge. How can we do friction-free assessment?
Partner cultivation. As the testing was going on, we also drafted a partner engagement plan. What organizations would be ideal partners for clubs? What are we offering them and how to we want to engage them? Next quarter we will put this plan into action with a number of wonderful organizations.
Website development. Furthermore, we discussed with testers their needs for an online platform to showcase and connect this initiative. The first version of this new website will go live in April.
Reflect early, reflect often. Throughout this quarter, we had conversations with testers, colleagues and other partners about this process. We constantly adjusted and improved. This is an essential practice. Going forward, I anticipate continual reflection and iteration as we develop clubs collaboratively and in the open. It was very beneficial meeting the team in person for several days of planning. I hope we can do that again, expanding to regional coordinators and testers, next quarter.
Get out of the way. Once the framework is set up and a team is in place to support testing, it’s important to get out of the way! Smart people will innovate and remix the experience. Make sure there are ways to encourage and capture that. But allow beautiful and unexpected things to emerge, like Project Mile.
Motivation: Strong on STRUCTURE.Wants good content for their learners
Needs: Curriculum & web tools, professional development, access to skilled educators
Incentives: Engaged learners, professional develop credentials
Concerns: Not drawn primarily by cause, narrative or brand.
To support these two personas, we established that intermediary volunteer leadership roles are needed. Inspired by Obama’s community organizing model, nicknamed “the snowflake”, we would like to pilot the following structure:
Club Leader. Runs a local club.
Regional Coordinators. Supports several local clubs.
Staff Organizer. Supports several regional coordinators.
Starting in April, we’d like to work with a handful of beta-tester regional coordinators to test and grow this organizing model.
The Facilitative Teacher
Furthermore, we realized that community leaders would benefit from professional development and training. In parallel to the curriculum stream we have around web literacy, we will also develop modules around facilitative leadership and teaching.
This includes hands-on activities to teach how to use open practices, connectivism, digital making and general facilitation skills to empower your learners and grow your local community.
I’m quite excited about this area of development and plan to collaborate closely with Aspiration Tech and Mozilla Reps to build this out next quarter.
For clubs, we needed well curated and field-tested curriculum informed by our pedagogy:
Why we teach:This is our mission. We are dedicated to empowering others with web literacy so that they have agency on the web as creators, citizens and future leaders.
How we teach: This is our pedagogy. Teaching and learning is how we achieve our mission. They are political as well as self-actualizing acts. We teach and learn by making projects together and openly reflecting on the process in an inclusive and locally relevant environment. Learning is social, production-centered, and open-ended. It is done best when facilitated in small groups meeting in-person.
Who we teach:This is our audience. We teach our peers, so that we can reflect and improve together. We teach our local community, so we can give back and make a different locally.
What we teach:This is our subject. We teach web literacy, which encompasses the mechanics, culture and citizenship of the web. Our learners are more self-actualized as creators when they can use the web as a platform for creativity. They are better citizens when they can make more informed choices on the web. And they are economically more empowered with skills and practical knowledge of this public resources.
Where we teach:This is our classroom. We teach locally, wherever we have our learners, be that in formal classrooms, to libraries and coffee shops and kitchen tables. We learn globally, as we connect with peers who inspire and mentor us to make local change that has a global impact.
For the last few years, web literacy pioneers have been developing open educational resources to teach the web.
Over the last two months, we curated some of the brightest examples of that work and sequenced it into a six-part introductory module.
They inspired and shared the foundational materials for the first module. Here’s what the result looks like!
Web Literacy Basics
Learners get familiar with reading, writing and participating on the web in this six-part module. Discover the foundations of the web through production and collaboration. The learning objectives underpinning each activity are informed by Mozilla’s Web Literacy Map.
Complete the activities in sequence, or mix & match for your learners.
Last Wednesday, March 4, Nesta and the Scout Association launch the new Digital Maker badge - bringing digital making skills to their network of 400,000 young people across the UK with a focus on creativity through computational thinking.
The new badge
Nesta believes that digital creativity, along with other digital making skills, are not only important skills for future jobs and personal agency in an increasingly digital world, but also fun to learn outside of the classroom.
After consultation and testing with The Scout Association, volunteers, youth members and technology experts, Nesta has developed resource packs to help Scouts achieve the Digital Maker Staged Activity Badge, at stages 1 and 2. Packs are accessible from the Nesta partnership page of the Scouts website as PDFs and are designed to be a fun introduction to how technologies work, including technologies that can be tried at home. A great example is ‘Sandwich Bot’ - how to program your scout leader to make a jam sandwich.
Recently I had the honor of speaking at Mobile Learning Week in Paris, co-hosted by UNESCO and UN Women. The two agencies interwove their agendas to focus on empowering women through mobile learning. It’s a strategic and necessary combo.
I shared a panel with Shelly Esque (Intel), Adele Vrana (Wikimedia), Ingrid Brudvig (World Wide Web Foundation), and Doreen Bogdan (ITU), which was impeccably moderated by Valerie Hannon (Innovation Unit UK).
Here’s a summary of my remarks as well as thoughts from the discussion.
The reason I’m here today is thanks to my mother—and Wikipedia. After some convincing, my mother agreed to join me on the train to the first Wikimania, held in Frankfurt, Germany.
I’d been enraptured by the Wikipedia project. And when I learned that Wikipedians were meeting each other for the first time just an hour away from our home, I had to go.
We spent the day talking with wonderful people. We listened to educational activists from Sub-Saharan Africa and had lunch with Serbian mathematicians. These volunteer Wikipedians were translating untold numbers of articles about math into Serbian. How incredible!
What struck me about the Wikipedians was that each worked in a small part on the project. In their language, in their subject. But together, they were creating something great.
They had a North Star to guide them. The Wikipedians knew there was a greater goal and that gave their individual contributions a direction.
Today, we are at a crossroads.
Billions of people are coming online for the first time. Thanks to low-cost phones, many are gaining access to technology that they never had before.
We know that technology is power. And knowledge is power.
With this new wave of technology, we can repeat the power structures of the past. Or we can change them.
Let’s ask ourselves: what is our North Star?
We represent many countries, many interests. But we’re here today galvanized around shared issues.
I’d like to propose that our North Star is not just equitable access, but access to knowledge. And that knowledge is understood as a literacy — web literacy.
Let’s create a web literate planet.
Literacy has been proven to combat all sorts of inequality: social, economic, political.
To overcome gender inequality, women must fully participate online–in their own language, in their own time, and in their own voice.
This requires knowing how to read, write and participate on the web.
Importantly, it is not just about what we teach, but how.
The classroom is a microcosm of a society’s power structures. Traditionally, teachers see their students as containers, receptacles of knowledge that the teachers, as experts, must fill.
Instead, teachers should be facilitators. They should help their learners find agency and be empowered. Teachers are there to help their learners take ownership of their own learning.
In this way, we can challenge traditional power structures. Learners must have agency and ownership of their learning. This goes for women as much as for men.
At Mozilla, through our low-cost and open source phones, we’re reducing the barrier to access. Through our teaching and learning campaigns, we mobilize communities in 86 countries to teach web literacy to 130,000 learners. And now we are working to sustain those efforts through local groups meeting and teaching regularly.
But these are small, humble contributions.
We, like all of you here, dream big. We see all of our efforts amplifying each other, guided by a North Star.
Together, we can do it. We can create a web literate planet.
Huge thanks to Jennifer Breslin and Mark West for inviting us and to Anar Simpson helping make the connection!
This week we were joined by Matt Rogers from Digital Me, who shared some of the recent work they’ve been doing in the UK, including professional development badges for computing curricula in partnership with NAACE (National Association of Advisors for Computers in Education).
Safe-Bots for Internet Safety
Digital Me and telecommunications company O2 recently led a campaign around Safer Internet Day on February 10th, encouraging youth to take leadership within their families and communities. Youth participants made Safe-Bots displaying e-safety messages at 87 core locations around the UK, including O2 stores. The SID activities were mapped at safebot.co.uk to educate youth about geolocation data and tracking.
Lucy Neale from Digital Me added that the Internet safety badges “are also designed as a way to engage parents with e-safety as this is something schools and corporates like O2 are struggling with.” E-safety is still seen as a taboo subject for many parents, who perhaps lack an understanding of the issues or feel it is irrelevant. “This project is designed to test whether the badges and digital making activities can offer a non-threatening opportunity for parents to engage with the topic, led by their children, in neutral spaces, including at home and in O2 shops and other public spaces.”
Click here for initial statistics and here for SID participation information. Teachers can download a free SID resource pack, available at www.makewav.es/safe, from the resource tab on the left hand side. You can read more about the SID Safe-Bot activities on the O2 blog.
Pearson’s Acclaim platform gets a spotlight in this BBC article on CV / résumé fraud:
"Up to now most achievement certificates or college degrees are on paper," says Clarke Porter, head of the Acclaim scheme. "They are not very computer friendly and you cannot share your paper certificate you have hanging on your wall because it is not digitised.
"We want to bring about a transformation where proper credentials are digitised and can be shared on the internet," he says.
Can badges help eliminate misinformation on digital profiles and résumés?
BadgeLAB Leeds is testing whether Open Badges can deepen or diversify young people’s engagement with the arts.
BadgeLAB Leeds is a new initiative led by ArtForms Leeds, Sheffield Hallam University and DigitalMe with the support of the Digital R&D Fund - Nesta, Arts and Humanities Research Council and public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.
Young people’s learning via arts activities is often informal, taking place through one-off classroom sessions or specially organized local events. Some arts learning provision is designed to function as a complement to traditional classroom teaching, taking place outside formal education entirely.
BadgeLAB Leeds is exploring how Open Badges can act as an incentive to take part in arts based learning experiences, which are not normally recognized with traditional qualifications. To this end, [they] have helped develop badged activities at events such as Light Night Leeds, the March of the Robots Parade and Party as well as MozFest 2014.
One-off classroom sessions have also been supported with Open Badges for activities such as robot making, den building, contributing to a giant, flashing Robo-quilt and making clay pots in the style of the ancient Greeks and Romans.
All of the badges claimed as well as the personal experiences of practitioners are being carefully documented and studied by staff at Sheffield Hallam University as well. [They] hope the research results will reveal how effective an incentive Open Badges can be for young people participating in arts-based activities.
Tin Can was developed at similar time to Open Badges addressing similar areas (recording learner experiences and achievements). While there was some initial concerns about conflict or overlap, it turned out there were actually quite a few differences which made them quite complementary. Open Badges tended to be used more in academics to recognize bigger steps in the learning process, whereas Tin Can statements have been used in workforce to describe more granular steps before and after a badge is earned.
Andrew and the Open Badges xAPI Community of Practice have been working on ways these two technologies can work together, including:
sharing awarded badges between systems
localizing and sharing badge definitions between systems
sharing issuer metadata between systems
defining machine readable badge criteria and evidence
automatically awarding badges based on Tin Can statements
using a learning record store (LRS) as a backpack
Most of their work thus far has focused on using badges and Tin Can with professional bodies, but they are now moving on to organizations and accreditation bodies (see the diagram below). We look forward to hearing more from them in a few months - if you’d like to get involved in github, join xAPI Community of Practice around Open Badges:https://github.com/ht2/BadgesCoP
We were also joined on the community call this week by Dan Hickey, who is using BadgeList to issue badges in his Learning and Cognition Course, as well as working with Indiana University to install Badgesafe. His team is also collaborating with edX as part of his new project, Open Badges in edX and Beyond.
In Louisiana, Carey Hamburg is putting together a focus group study on the use of badges in recruiting and hiring in the local oil + gas industries as part of his doctoral study. At Concentric Sky & the Oregon Center for Digital Learning, Nate Otto and the team are working on software for one user to be able to manage their own earned badges, define and issue badges to others, and understand badges that people show to them, and are making progress toward an initial release.
The Standards Working Group is continuing to make progress with the W3C credentials community group: members are putting together open badges use cases, and drafting a vocabulary that is generalizable across various high and low stakes credentials. This vocabulary will be shared with the general community soon for feedback and comment.
Opportunities to get involved
The Standards Working Group is putting together development resources to update the Mozilla validator to 1.1 and they’re looking for contributors. The group is willing to work with interns or new JS programmers as a mentorship opportunity, so if you’re interested in a little bit of Node.js contribution, get in touch with Nate Otto.
Dan Hickey and his team are looking for additional collaborators on the Open Badges in Higher Ed project. Read more here and get in touch if your organization or institution is working with badges in interesting ways.
Thank you to everyone who joined us this week. Join us next Wednesday for more community project updates and announcements.
A recent report from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching concluded that the credit hour, though flawed in many ways as a measurement of learning, is the best option we have in education.
Two years ago, in response to increasing concern over the adequacy of the credit hour, the Carnegie Foundation brought together a committee of 27 experts to look at the history of the credit hour and evaluate whether a competency-based model of learning measurement could replace it. The overarching theme in the report is that it would be risky - and difficult - to try and replace the current system:
"Achieving this goal would require the development of rigorous standards, assessments, and accountability systems—difficult work, especially in the field of higher education, where educational aims are highly varied and faculty autonomy is deeply engrained." (Source)
Inside Higher Ed provided a commentary when the report was released, citing several experts who have both praise and criticism for the report:
"Several experts praised the study for its broad look at the credit hour’s role and history. But some said they wished the foundation had pushed harder to find a way to move beyond the standard. After all, the foundation created the unit, and at times has been a driving force for change in higher education."
Dan Hickey is working on a general narrated slide deck called Open Digitial Badges: What, Why, When, and Where? to market open badges in the edX community and beyond, as well as working to get the Open Badges Design Principles and Documentation Project report out soon and moving forward with other projects.Steve Lonn is preparing for two badging events coming up: an open conversation about the intersection of badges and ePortfolios on Feb. 26 and a local workshop on digital badges for co-curricular learning on March 4.
We heard from Megan Cole that there is movement building around the Cities of Learning for 2015. The team is gearing up for a May / June launch again with three exemplar cities from previous years, Chicago, LA and Pittsburgh, with potentially a few others getting on board as well. Digital Youth Network is leading the technology platform for the individual cities this year. Also in Chicago, MOUSE is working with Hive Chicago to do a youth gamejam in May, aiming to get the participants to tap into MOUSE’s serious game design badge and curriculum after the jam. They’re looking for partner organizations in Chicago to do activities at the event, so if you’re interested, reach out to Meredith via Twitter.
Badges at ELI 2015
Indiana University’s Dan Hickey and University of Michigan’s Steve Lonn were joined by Penn State’s Chris Gamratat the Educause Learning Initiative meeting last week in California to lead a panel on digital badges in higher education. Their slides are available here, and the video will be available after 90 days if you didn’t register for the virtual event beforehand.
Steve told the group on the call that more than half the room had at least a basic or fair amount of knowledge about badges, which was great to hear; the group still did a brief introduction to address specific terminology (micro-credentials, badges, etc.) as well as the continuing discussion of digital vs open badges, aided by the Badge Alliance’s Why Badges? page. Using Twitter, Steve also shared this quotable quote from Dan Hickey during their presentation:
It’s always interesting for us as a community to track our progress at these kinds of events, seeing which issues attendees get stuck on, what questions are most often asked, what the ‘aha!’ moments are. If you’re attending or giving badges presentations at conferences, let us know what your experiences are.
Thank you to everyone who joined us this week. You can review the full discussion in the notes and audio linked above. Join us next Wednesday for more community project updates and announcements!
We’re really excited to share this piece of news from across the pond: the Open University is introducing Badged Open Courses!
Check it out:
The Open University is building on years of knowledge, experience and research into Open Educational Resources (OER) with its release of innovative new badged open courses (BOCs). These have been developed in response to the needs of informal learners who are seeking access to study skills and to have their learning recognised.
'We have listened to the changing needs and requirements of our informal learners using our open platforms' says The OU’s Open Media Unit Director, Andrew Law. 'Badged open courses will complement The OU’s extensive and growing portfolio of OER on OpenLearn and provide learners recognition for their achievements through assessment – for free.' The team at The OU who produced the courses were finalists in The Learning Awards 2015 for ‘Innovation in Learning’.
This week the team and community looked at the recent progress of the Standards Working Group, which has been focused on a variety of important issues, including an endorsement extensions proposal. The open badges community discussion on endorsement sparked a discussion around what kinds of issuing organizations, individuals and technical platforms will make use of endorsement. A number of community members indicated that their organizations will be interested in endorsement as a way to add value to badges in the ecosystem, including Nate Otto of the Oregon Badge Alliance.
The endorsement issue also raises concerns within our existing community that giving organizations the ability to endorse badges will open the door for those already in power within education and workforce standards bodies to take control within the badging ecosystem. BothSerge Ravet and Carla Casillicommented on the difficulty of creating new environments for existing power structures and the importance of ensuring the ethos of the badging work is maintained moving forward.
To take a look at the endorsement extensions proposal, click the agenda link above or join the conversation in the Working Group at bit.ly/BA-Standard-WG
Thank you to those who participated on this week’s call. Join us next Wednesday at 12pm ET to learn more about our community’s badging projects and share updates from your own.
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” (African proverb)
Jamie Allen reminded me that February 7th marked the two year anniversary of the Web Literacy community at Mozilla. We’ve achieved a fair bit in that time. Here’s a visual history of how we’ve got (nearly) to version 1.5 — inspired, in part by contributor Greg McVerry. There’s a list of all of the contributors so far at the end of this post and here.
Mozilla’s web literacy work was actually kicked off by Michelle Levesque before I joined Mozilla. I helped with some suggestions and iterations — as you can see from her blog. To begin with, it was just a list of skills that I suggested she might want to put into graphical form. So she did: There was a few months of overlap between me joining Mozilla as ‘Badges & Skills Lead’ and Michelle leaving. I took over development of the web literacy work and wrote a whitepaper.
Erin Knight, Director of Learning at Mozilla at the time, suggested we might work towards a ‘Web Literacy Standard’. We hosted a kick-off call in February 2013 which was well-attended. This is when the community work started, iterating towards a v1.0. The first draft (April 2013) looked like this: The ‘release candidate’ in July actually had some design love (from Chris Appleton) rather than me messing about in Keynote. This was the ‘Request For Comments’ version from July 2013: We’d decided to lock things down for September so that we could launch a version 1.0 at the Mozilla Festival the following month. We were still hoping for it to be a formal ‘standard’ so we called it a specification: As you can see, it’s very similar to v1.1 and the upcoming v1.5 – as you’d expect.
I’d moved teams in late 2013 to become ‘Web Literacy Lead’ at Mozilla. This meant that the Web Literacy Map was one of my main responsibilities. As a community we decided to transition away from ‘Standard’ as the term carries so much negative baggage in North America. After some discussion and debate, we settled on ‘Map’ — and took the opportunity to update it to v1.1. Cassie McDaniel provided the visual refresh: In April 2014 this was then used to underpin the Webmaker Resources section: Clicking on one of the competencies takes you to a page listing the skills underpinning that particular competency. It was contains resources for teaching that particular area of the Web Literacy Map. This was curated by Kat Braybrooke. In addition, nine of the ten points of the Mozilla manifesto link through to appropriate parts of the Web Literacy Map when you click on them for more information. For example under the ‘learn more’ section of Principle 2 it says Explore how to help keep the Web open. This links through to the Open Practices section of Webmaker resources.
Towards the end of 2014 we began work as a community on scoping out what we originally called ‘version 2.0‘. There was a series of interviews, a community survey, and a small number of community calls in the run-up to Christmas deciding on what we should focus on in 2015. Ultimately, we decided to re-scope to version 1.5 with the potential to go for a v2.0 later in the year. In the community calls we’ve held this year, we’ve already decided to combine ‘Web Mechanics’ and ‘Infrastructure’ to create a new, re-scoped Web Mechanics competency. At the same time, we’re separating out the two parts of ‘Design & Accessibility’ to create Designing for the Web and Accessibility. We should have v1.5 ready by the end of March 2015.
This is a visual history, but behind the simplicity we’ve aimed for is so much debate, discussion and complexity. I’ve been in awe at times at the nuanced thinking of contributors to this project. Some have showed up since the beginning of the project, others have given their precious time for just a couple of sessions. But either way, we couldn’t have come this far without them. If you want to get involved in this work, you’re very welcome! Here’s where to point your attention:
Here’s the community, in alphabetical order by first name. They’re all rockstars:
Elizabeth E Charles
Janet Laane Effron
Majda Nafissa Rahal
Have I missed your name? Apologies! Let me know. Finally, there’s a few people I want to single out for their extraordinary help. I can’t overstate how important Carla Casilli was as a thought leader to the community from 2012 to 2014. Ian O’Byrne has stepped up time and time again and has led when I’ve been away. Greg McVerry has been a tireless champion of the Web Literacy Map. Laura Hilliger has been inspirational, knowledgeable and enthusiastic. Marc Lesser has been the voice of reason and wisdom. Gus Andrews has been thoughtful and questioning. Alvar Maciel has opened our eyes beyond the English-speaking world and been a indefatigable translator. It’s been such an enjoyable couple of years. I can’t wait to get v1.5 ready and then move on to version 2.0!
Webinar: Digital Badges to curate, credential and carry forward digital learning evidence
In case you missed the February 4th webinar hosted by Transforming Assessment, here is the recording of David Gibson (Curtin University, Australia) and Kate Coleman (Deakin University, Australia) discussing badges for recognition and motivation within higher learning environments.
Thank you to everyone who participated in the community call and online discussions - we look forward to another productive and badgeriffic week with you all. Have a great weekend!
Opportunity for UK-based badgers [DEADLINE TODAY, FRIDAY 6 FEB.]
Jorum are currently investigating the implementation of Open Badges with the depositing, repurposing and remixing of OERs and are forming a focus group of representatives from further education and skills sectors in the UK.
While the badge universe has grown exponentially — about 300,000 badges have been issued using an open-sourced software developed by Mozilla, one of MacArthur’s partners in the “Badge Alliance” — those first 30 pilot projects [from the 2012 DML Competition] are the most thoroughly scrutinized badges around. Their fates will be instructive. As this ambitious, multi-million effort draws to a close, I spoke to researchers who have followed it from day one. Those conversations suggest that badges will need at least two essential ingredients if they are to be more than a gold star sticker for the digital age — rigor and relationships.
“Badges are like a new currency,” says Sheryl Grant, director of badge research for the academic consortium known as HASTAC (the Humanities, Arts, Technology and Science Alliance and Collaboratory), another Badge Alliance partner, and the one that administered the pilot competition. “Currencies depend on a collective belief that something has value.”
And that value cannot be from mere participation, says Daniel Hickey, an education professor at Indiana University who tracked the badge pilots. For badges to be meaningful, they need to make specific claims about the learning they represent and link to evidence that backs them up. Some pilot programs, he says, took a year or more just to figure out what they wanted their badges to say.
“They had never thought, specifically, about what learning they provided,” Hickey says. What’s more, Hickey adds, badges should go beyond what’s already covered by grades, tests, blue ribbons or other marks of distinction. For example, finalists in the Intel Science Talent Search, a rigorous and prestigious high-school science competition, win thousands of dollars and a week in Washington, D.C., where they meet dignitaries and present their research to top scientists. In 2012, when the competition gave finalists digital badges as well, few bothered to claim them.
So the competition added badges for research papers judged to be college-level, and “initiative” badges, for students who had overcome hurdles such as a lack of advanced science courses or lab space in their schools. In 2014, 39 percent of the finalists claimed their badges, but the claim rates for research and initiative badges were 51 and 59 percent, respectively.
Ideally, of course, a badge won’t mean something just to the earner. It will also impress college admissions officials or potential employers. By that measure, badges have a long way to go. None of the college accreditation agencies yet recognize badges as course credit. While several universities award digital badges in select courses, most are still “considering” whether to work them into the admissions process. Most online human resources platforms can’t process them. People do post badges to their LinkedIn profiles, but it’s not common enough to track, says a spokesperson for the company — whose business depends on tracking everything subscribers do.
That brings us to the second key ingredient for badge value: relationships. Simply put, most badges will only be valued by organizations that already know and trust the issuer or that had a hand in developing them. The rigor behind a badge rarely speaks for itself.
Just ask Hillary Salmons, executive director of the Providence After-School Alliance (PASA), which offers workshops in subjects ranging from debate to dance to designing smartphone apps. When PASA started digital badges, students could find no use for them, so PASA dropped them after two years. Now PASA is planning to re-launch badges this spring.
This time, Salmons says, PASA is reaching out to local business and universities to find out how badges can be useful to them. “We’re asking them, do these skills we plan to measure seem right to you. Do you value them?”
We were joined by two new community members this week: Russell Okamoto of Cel.ly, where they have been developing a mobile app for showcasing badges via GPS, built with OBI compatibility in mind:
"We have built a digital badge app that lets you "carry" and "beacon out" your badges to people around you. You can also slap your badges like stickers anywhere you go sort of like digital graffiti. We think this app would be great for edtech badges to let people showcase their credentials. if you want to try it please let me know. The app is called Wave. We think for professional development, Wave might be a good way to advertise what interests and skills people have as they move around at events or in daily life.”
We were also joined for the first time by Bohdan Andriyiv, founder of ThankOut.com, where users can send thanks to others as recommendations and endorsements. Welcome, newcomers!
The Standards Working Group has been moving forward with numerous extension proposals - read more and contribute to the discussions on Endorsement and Identity in the mailing list. We’ll be hearing more from Working Group members next week, so join us next week if you’d like to hear more about what they’re working on.
This week we asked those who attended the Digital Promise Educator and Workforce Micro-credentials Summit on January 30 to join us and share their thoughts on the conversations and presentations they participated in during the Summit, which brought together around 100 teachers, administrators, entrepreneurs and non-profit representatives to discuss the value of micro-credentials for professional development. It was a small summit full of intense conversations, according to Carla Casilli, who said the term ”micro-credentials” was a “door-opener” that opened up conversations about badges to an audience of teachers discussing professional development credentials. Accreditrust’s Mary Bold said there were quite a few attendees starting from the beginning with badges and micro-credentials, using the phrase “eternal September” to describe the rolling on-boarding of those new to the badging conversation. Mary also noted the summit was largely California-centric, and spoke to the need for more global connections in the coming months, when asynchronous collaboration will become increasingly important. Nate Otto said there were lots of questions and conversations about how “recognizers of micro-credentials” (consumers of badges) can determine whether to trust or value certain badges and “convert them into opportunities for earners.”
A few people have written about the summit already:
Indiana University’s Dan Hickey is looking for new platforms and partners for his latest project, Open Badges in Open edX and Beyond:
"my team is funded for two years to support people who are getting innovative badge systems operational in higher education. We can offer quite a bit in terms of getting systems up and running, and documenting progress and projects in our open case library. The official name of this new project is Open Badges in Open edX and Beyond. Now that we have succeeding in getting open badges up and running in Open edX, we are looking for new collaborators and new platforms. We now know our way around Open edX, Canvas, and Google CourseBuilder, and are quickly expanding beyond that.
Get in touch with Dan or his research associate James Willis to discuss your projects - even if you don’t need help, your work may be included in the open case library the team is building.
When I start a new project, I often have a moment of anxiety - blank canvas syndrome. I am really excited about all of the possibilities that are embedded within the task of initiating new work, however I am overwhelmed by the blank screen that is staring me in the face. I start to think: will I ever be creative again? Will I create something unique? How can I effect the most change? ... make impact? do something original.... not find the obvious solution... but the best one.
Despite the fact that I feel like an impostor or a fraud in these moments - this is actually pretty common. I've talked to a lot of designers, illustrators and creative people and everyone seems to have a strategy for conquering this feeling. Here are some of my strategies:
Sit with a marker in your hand
My good friend Chloe Varelidi suggested this to me once and it works for me 99% of the time. I find if I just sit somewhere - a coffee shop, a subway ride, a library etc - with a pen in my hand and a sketchbook in front of me and just start the action of drawing, something will spur on an idea. If I am in a total rut, I will start by drawing what I think is the boring or obvious solution to a design problem - kind of to just put it out there into the world. After that is done, it's out of my mind - time to come up with a handful of other ideas. Look or listen to something that is unrelated but inspiring
I am the queen of podcasts - at any given time I can tell you about something that I found interesting in a recent episode of 99 Percent Invisible or The Moth. The topics of the show don't ever need to relate to something I am working on, but I find that hearing how other people process problems and ideas inspires me to create. Sometimes looking at art in a museum or gallery is helpful. I will say that not going online and hunting for ideas on Pinterest or Dribbble is the most constructive for me. If I go to those sites I tend to go into a downward spiral of self doubt - thinking - look at all these other designers rockin' it - will I ever get my idea? Instead I think more conceptually and proactively.
Move your body
You've heard of the expression - 'mind - body connection' right? Well there's a reason for that - it's true. Stretch, run, do yoga, go for a swim or a walk around your office. My friend Atul Varma actually takes off his shoes and paces from room to room while he is brainstorming. It's the act of waking up your body and prepping it to be creative that really motivates you - and it could be completely subconscious. I always hear about people coming up with great ideas in the morning while they are showering. This is unscientific, but I am sure that it has something to do with the fact that you are moving your body - stretching, standing and letting your mind relax. Context switch
Sometimes the reason that I can't get started on something new is that my head is stuck on something old. For example, I recently went from designing a snippet for Firefox to making an onboarding experience to then making promotional content for Privacy day. There's a lot of context switching going on here. I am switching mediums, platforms and thematic concepts! I am still struggling with how to get over this, but one thing that I do is context switch my physical environment. If I have been sitting at a desk for a week straight working on a project, I go to sit at a coffee shop or on a couch to brainstorm. If I have to work at my desk, I find some way to change it : re - organize it, put some fresh tea in front of myself, find a new pen to sketch with - sticky notes to cut up etc. Anything to alter the environment within my zone of comfort.
Talk it out
When all else fails, I find a friend or colleague to talk to. This might be in the form of a tweet, a blogpost (ahem ahem), a journal entry, an instant message or a conversation in real life. I tend to talk to everyone - my husband, my community, my mom, my fellow designers, people who are struggling with the problem that I am trying to solve - people who know nothing about the work that I am dealing with, people who won't respond - but just listen to me ramble, people who will respond and give me thousands of ideas that make no sense, just anyone. It's like talk therapy for me. I just need to get out my concerns and energy in some way so that I can move forward with the creative business at hand.
None of these solutions are fool proof, and it's not like you do one thing and it's a magic bullet or creativity, however, I find that these things are constructive ways to focus and release my anxiety or nervous energy when initiating new work. If you have other strategies, I would love to hear about them, please send me or copy me on a tweet.
The Digital Promise Micro-credential Summit is happening right now in Redwood City, CA, which we’ll hear more about on next week’s community call. Follow @DigitalPromise for ongoing updates, and take a look at this neat vine which captures some of the discussion topics below:
This week we met a new community member, Angela Fulcher, who is looking into options for developing a badge system for Harlem schools and is based at Columbia University. We also heard from longtime badgers Serge Ravet, who has made some updates to the Badge Europe site, and Nate Otto, who dialed in from the Digital Promise Micro-credential Summit (more on that next week).
Our main presentation this week was from Ian O’Byrne, who spoke to the group about the work the Badge Alliance Working Group on Digital and Web Literacies did during Cycle 1 in 2014. This group used Mozilla’s Web Literacy Map as a starting point for drafting recommendations for creating a privacy badge pathway. The Web Literacy community has spent the last two years scripting out the Web Literacy pathways and really think about what it means to be a web-literate individual. The goal of Cycle 1 of the Badge Alliance Working Group was to aim for a descriptive approach, avoiding being prescriptive about what these literacies should be. They began developing pathways, trying to be transparent about the individual skills/competencies incorporated, and what they would look like with badges built around them. The result was this paper: “Considerations when creating a ‘Privacy’ badge pathway.”
The discussion that followed touched on endorsement, federated badge systems, and badge currency, which the open badges community has been grappling with on the mailing list. Carla Casilli suggested this work might be a good use case for endorsement, with the Web Literacy community endorsing badges that align with the mapped pathways developed in recent years. James Willisargued that a certain degree of generalization is important in work this like, to increase accessibility for those who are new to the concept. As organizations start to explore badges, they look for use cases to find out what worked and what didn’t. Being able to generalize these lessons learned makes them more easily applicable to new members of the badge issuing community.
Meredith Summsfrom MOUSE shared this fun ‘privacy’ activity for youth on Mozilla Webmaker, focusing on users choosing privacy levels based on which digital identities it relates to. Check it out here.
What a great call this week - thank you to those who participated. Join us next Wednesday at 12pm ET to learn more about our community’s badging projects and share updates from your own.
Joined by over 40 organizations and individuals around the world, we’ll test the first section of our web literacy basics curriculum, based on our community-created Web Literacy Map.
We anticipate having a community-created and tested Web Literacy Basics curriculum ready by the end of March, consisting of three sections:
Reading the Web
Writing the Web
Participating on the Web
In addition, there will be extra guides and goodies packaged with the curriculum to help people start their own local clubs or to inject this kind of web literacy learning into their existing programs. These will be bolstered by an online “club house” and leadership development for club mentors.
We selected these activities because we’re looking for lessons that:
are production-centered and about learning socially.
readily adapted to a local context.
work as standalone lessons or strung together for a larger arc.
require little or no prior web literacy skills for the mentor.
done offline, without internet or computers. or, at the very most, with only a modern browser.
The testing process
Testers are looking at the effectiveness and compatibility of the activities. In particular, we’re interested in how people adapt the curriculum to their learners. One example could be swapping out the mythical creature, The Kraken, for your local variety, like Loch Ness, Knecht Ruprecht, etc.
We’d love to see greater remixes and alternatives to the activities themselves, hopefully uncovering more compelling and context-sensitive ways to teach credibility and web mechanics.
And most importantly, we’re looking at whether the activities meet our learning objectives. They should not only be fun and engaging, but instill real skill and a deeper understanding of the web.
where the questionnaires and reflection will unpack how the activities played out with learners and whether they taught what we think they do.
Co-creating 2. Writing the Web
In parallel to testing the first section, we’re co-developing the second section with our fellow club creators. Here we hope to up-level two existing activities from the community and to prepare them for testing in the next round, starting Feb. 10.
If you have ideas for how to teach “Writing on the Web”, particularly the competencies of remix and composing, chime in!
When I was creating the patterns for the Webmaker privacy campaign, I posted my works-in-progress up on Instagram and a few people asked if I would make them into desktop wallpapers. So... in honor of Data Privacy Day you can download them in a variety of patterns and sizes here.
Welcome to a new year of badging! In my last post, I detailed issues and topics that I think need to be a priority this year, and this one builds on that focusing more on new approaches for this year and beyond…
It’s hard to believe that January is almost over, but I’ve been impressed and excited by the energy and excitement that folks have had in just these first few weeks of the new year. Last week I attended an event at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston exploring ‘soft skill’ badges for Workforce in the Boston area and beyond. And Digital Promise is hosting an event this week in Redwood City to also dig into badges for Workforce, as well as Educators. It’s so fantastic and inspiring to see the initiative from the network organizations and these types of meetings occurring.
In general, I think there are some important themes around new approaches already emerging this year:
1) Empowered network and distributed leadership - We are seeing increased initiative and leadership from across the network, where organizations are driving key conversations, not waiting around for permission or for a centralized effort to kick it off, and organizing around specific goals. This is so exciting and will be critical to our success and scale as a network. Of course, it will be important to make sure that we’re ensuring findings and outcomes of these initiatives get fed back into the broader network as we go so that we’re minimizing duplication and learning from each other’s efforts. This is a clear area in which the BA can help.
2) Regional momentum - Conversations, projects and leadership are starting to have a regional focus, which creates more awareness beyond the early-ish adopters and further builds the network, focuses and speeds up policy considerations and conversations, creates relevant and strong partnerships, and even opens up more opportunities for funding. We’ve already seen many examples of this emerging, including the Boston event I mentioned, work in Oregon, Pennsylvania and Maine, and much of the current interest globally. Perhaps the strongest role for a centralized BA is to create any necessary support structures for these regional ‘alliances’ and then work to connect key leaders or representatives across each to share experiences and leverage one another further. This won’t work for every issue and project out there, but I think is an obvious and needed piece of how we optimize our collaborative work and productivity and scale well.
3) Specific projects versus general conversation - As I’ve written before, last year was great for building foundations, but this year needs to be focused on delivering specific work and projects that provide models and examples to learn from and point to. The Boston event was positioned around not badges generally, but how we could use badges to support ‘soft’ skill development and communication for workforce. It was a specific set of problems, with the right partners at the table, and is exactly what we need to see more of this year.
4) Face-to-face events - We are a distributed network, and growing even more distributed as global interest takes off, and virtual meetings and methods will always be a critical part of how we interact. But we can’t also discount the value of being in the same room every now and then. I think face-to-face events will need to be an important part of our collective strategies. Ideally we have an opportunity to get together as a network at least once, with more regional or project-based meetings in the meantime. And again, a lot of those specific events are already underway in the first few weeks of 2015. More thoughts on this to come on this shortly, but expanding our toolkit for how we work together is definitely an important theme.
To get even more meta on you, the theme across these themes is one of decentralized work, initiative and progress, with a strong BA role in connecting those efforts and people. More to come in my next post.
Here’s to an exciting year. Looking forward to working with you (and maybe seeing you) soon!
This week a few of the features that I have been writing about will be shipping on webmaker.org - the work for Privacy Day and the new on-boarding experience. You might be wondering what we've been up to during that period of time after the project gets coded until the time it goes live. Two magical words: quality assurance (QA). We are still refining the process, and I am very open to suggestions as to how to improve it and streamline it. For the time being, let me walk you through this round of QA on the Privacy Day content.
It all starts out with a github issue
... and a kickoff meeting
The same team who worked on the prototyping phase of the Privacy Day campaign work are responsible for the quality assurance. We met to kick off and map out our plan for going live. This project required three kinds of reviews - that more or less had to happen simultaneously. We broke down the responsibilities like this:
Aki - (lead engineer) - responsible for preparing the docs and leading a functionality review Paul - (communication/marketing) - responsible for preparing the docs and leading a marketing review Jess - (lead designer) - responsible for preparing docs and leading design review Bobby - (product manager) - responsible for recruiting participants to do the reviews and to wrangle bug triage. Cassie - (quality) - responsible for final look and thumbs up to say if the feature is acceptable to ship Each of us who were responsible for docs wrote up instructions for QA reviewers to follow:
We recruited staff and community to user test on a variety of different devices:
This was done in a few different ways. I did both one on one and asynchronous review sessions with my colleagues and the community. It helps to have both kinds of user tests so that you can get honest feedback. Allowing for asynchronous or independent testing is particularly beneficial because it signals to the reviewer that this is an ongoing process and that bugs can be filed at any point during the review period specified.
The process is completely open to the community. At any given point the github issues are public, the calls for help are public and the iteration is done openly.
and if there were any problems, they were logged in github as issues:
The most effective issues have a screenshot with the problem and a recommended solution. Additionally, it's important to note if this problem is blocking the feature from shipping or not.
We acknowledge when user testers found something useful:
and identified when a problem was out of scope to fix before shipping:
We quickly iterated on fixing bugs and closing issues as a team:
and gave each other some indication when we thought that the problem was fixed sufficiently:
When we are all happy and got the final thumbsup regarding quality, we then....
Close the github issue and celebrate:
Then we start to make preparations to push the feature live (and snoopy dance a little):
“To truly realize the power of technology to transform learning, it is crucial that students develop tech skills as well as the attributes of good digital citizens, outlined in the ISTE Standards. Taken Charge provides learners with an engaging and rewarding online environment that gets them ready to learn, create and thrive in a technology-infused world,” said Wendy Drexler, Ph.D., ISTE’s Chief Innovation Officer. “We are proud to award the first ISTE Seal of Alignment for an educational game to Taken Charge.”
We’re really excited to see educational games issuing digital badges for tech skills, and even more thrilled to see standards bodies recognizing those skills acquired through game-based learning.
This year it’s all about making these calls more about you, our wonderful community. With our revived “open mic” approach, everyone who wants to give updates on their badging projects can have time to share and gather feedback from their fellow badgers.
A question from another newcomer, IBM’s Laurie Miller, sparked an interesting discussion about badge value. This is a conversation that’s been ongoing since badges first started gaining traction, but has gotten more attention recently, with more people writing, writing (and writing!) about the potential and challenges of creating value around digital and open badges. We’ll be using one of the upcoming calls to dive deeper, so get your thinking (and writing) caps on!
Sunny Lee brought up a recent discussion thread from the community mailing list on badges and image / content licensing, raising the question of whether folks would be interested in digging into the points raised on a community call. Catch up with the thread here and stay tuned for more movement on that conversation.
Andrew Downes is working on a prototype for issuing open badges through the Tin Can API; follow the Gitter chat here: https://gitter.im/ht2/BadgesCoP.Nate Otto posted “minor updates” to the Badgr mobile apps for iOS and Android - if you find any bugs, report them to Nate directly via email. These updates should make them compatible with more issuers of open badges (how exciting!)
Speaking of exciting projects, Don Present is working on building a badge-enabled personal learning environment (PLE) for international humanitarian workers, starting with Doctors Without Borders. We definitely look forward to hearing more about this as it progresses - and if you’re going to the 2015 ePIC Conference in Barcelona in June, look out for Don’s presentation on this project.
We were also joined by more of our European friends, Nerijus Kriauciunas and Robertas Visinkis, who have developed BadgeCraft, which offers tools for organizations to design, manage and issue open badges. Their project made it through to the finals of hte DML Competition, and although voting has now ended, you can read more about their proposal here: http://bit.ly/DML_BadgeCraft
Thank you to everyone who participated this week - join us next Wednesday at 12pm ET to share and give feedback on more community badging projects!
The newly created Mozilla Foundation design team started out with a bang (or maybe I should say rawr) with our very first collaboration: a team debut on dribbble. Dribbble describes itself as a show and tell community for designers. I have not participated in this community yet but this seemed like a good moment to join in. For our debut shot, we decided to have some fun and plan out our design presence. We ultimately decided to go in a direction designed by Cassie McDaniel.
The concept was for us to break apart the famed Shepard Fairey Mozilla dinosaur into quilt-like tiles.
Each member of the design team was assigned a tile or two and given a shape. This is the one I was assigned:
I turned that file into this:
We all met together in a video chat to upload our images on to the site.
Anticipation was building as we uploaded each shot one by one:
But the final reveal made it worth all the effort!
Within ten years, there will be five billion citizens of the web.
Mozilla wants all of these people to know what the web can do. What’s possible. We want them to have the agency, skills and know-how they need to unlock the full power of the web. We want them to use the web to make their lives better. We want them to know they are citizens of the web.
Mozilla Learning is a portfolio of products and programs that helps people learn how to read, write and participate in the digital world.
Building on Webmaker, Hive and our fellowship programs, Mozilla Learning is a portfolio of products and programs that help these citizens of the web learn the most important skills of our age: the ability to read, write and participate in the digital world. These programs also help people become mentors and leaders: people committed to teaching others and to shaping the future of the web.
Mark Surman presents the Mozilla Learning vision and plan in Portland, Dec 2015
By 2017, Mozilla will have established itself as the best place to learn the skills and know-how people need to use the web in their lives, careers and organizations. We will have:
Educated and empowered users by creating tools and curriculum for learning how to read, write and participate on the web. Gone mainstream.
Built leaders, everywhere by growing a global cadre of educators, researchers, coders, etc. who do this work with us. We’ve helped them lead and innovate.
Established the community as the classroom by improving and explaining our experiential learning model: learn by doing and innovating with Mozilla.
At the end of these three years, we may have established something like a “Mozilla University” — a learning side of Mozilla that can sustain us for many decades. Or, we may simply have a number of successful learning programs. Either way, we’ll be having impact.
We may establish something like a “Mozilla University” — a learning side of Mozilla that can sustain us for many decades.
1) Learning Networks 2) Learning Products 3) Leadership Development
Our focus in 2015 will be to consolidate, improve and focus what we’ve been building for the last few years. In particular we will:
Improve and grow our local Learning Networks (Hive, Maker Party, etc).
Build up an engaged user base for our Webmaker Learning Products on mobile and desktop.
Prototype a Leadership Developmentprogram, and test it with fellows and ReMo.
The short term goal is to make each of our products and programs succeed in their own right in 2015. However, we also plan to craft a bigger Mozilla Learning vision that these products and programs can feed into over time.
A note on brand
Mozilla Learning is notional at this point. It’s a stake in the ground that says:
Mozilla is in the learning and empowerment business for the long haul.
In the short term, the plan is to use “Mozilla Learning” as an umbrella term for our community-driven learning and leadership development initiatives — especially those run by the Mozilla Foundation, like Webmaker and Hive. It may also grow over time to encompass other initiatives, like the Mozilla Developer Network and leadership development programs within the Mozilla Reps program. In the long term: we may want to a) build out a lasting Mozilla learning brand (“Mozilla University?”), or b) build making and learning into the Firefox brand (e.g., “Firefox for Making”). Developing a long-term Mozilla Learning plan is an explicit goal for 2015.
What we’re building
Practically, the first iteration of Mozilla Learning will be a portfolio of products and programs we’ve been working on for a number of years: Webmaker, Hive, Maker Party, Fellowship programs, community labs. Pulled together, these things make up a three-layered strategy we can build more learning offerings around over time.
The Learning Networks layer is the most developed piece of this picture, with Hives and Maker Party hosts already in 100s of cities around the world.
The Learning Products layer involves many elements of the Webmaker.org work, but will be relaunched in 2015 to focus on a mass audience.
The Leadership Development piece has strong foundations, but a formal training element still needs to be developed.
Scope and scale
One of our goals with Mozilla Learning is to grow the scope and scale of Mozilla’s education and empowerment efforts. The working theory is that we will create an interconnected set of offerings that range from basic learning for large numbers of people, to deep learning for key leaders who will help shape the future of the web (and the future of Mozilla).
We want to increasing the scope and diversity of how people learn with Mozilla.
We’ll do that by building opportunities for people to get together to learn, hack and invent in cities on every corner of the planet. And also: creating communities that help people working in fields like science, news and government figure out how to tap into the technology and culture of the web in their own lives, organizations and careers. The plan is to elaborate and test out this theory in 2015 as a part of the Mozilla Learning strategy process. (Additional context on this here: http://mzl.la/depth_and_scale.)
Contributing to Mozilla’s overall 2015 KPIs
How will we contribute to Mozilla’s top-line goals? In 2015, We’ll measure success through two key performance indicators: relationships and reach.
Relationships: 250K active Webmaker users
Reach: 500 cities with ongoing Learning Network activity
In 2015, we will continue to grow and improve the impact of our local Learning Networks.
Build on the successful ground game we’ve established with teachers and mentors under the Webmaker, Hive and Maker Party banners.
Evolve Maker Party into year-round activity through Webmaker Clubs.
Establish deeper presence in new regions, including South Asia and East Africa.
Improve the websites we use to support teachers, partners, clubs and networks.
Sharpen and consolidate teaching tools and curriculum built in 2014. Package them on their own site, “teach.webmaker.org.”
Roll out largescale, extensible community-building software to run Webmaker clubs.
Empower more people to start Hive Learning Networks by improving documentation and support.
Expand scale, rigour and usability of curriculum and materials to help people better mentor and teach.
Expand and improve trainings online and in-person for mentors.
Recruit more partners to increase reach and scope of networks.
Grow a base of engaged desktop and mobile users for Webmaker.
Expand our platform to reach a broad market of learners directly.
Mobile & Desktop: Evolve current tools into a unified Webmaker making and learning platform for desktop, Firefox OS and Android.
Tablet: Build on our existing web property to address tablet browser users and ensure viability in classrooms.
Firefox: Experiment with ways to integrate Webmaker directly into Firefox.
Prioritize mobile. Few competitors here, and the key to emerging markets growth.
Lower the bar. Build user on-boarding that gets people making / learning quickly.
Engagement. Create sticky engagement. Build mentorship, online mentoring and social into the product.
Develop a leadership development program, building off our existing Fellows programs.
Develop a strategy and plan. Document the opportunity, strategy and scope. Figure out how this leadership development layer could fit into a larger Mozilla Learning / Mozilla University vision.
Build a shared definition of what it means to be a ‘fellow’ at Mozilla. Empowering emerging leaders to use Mozilla values and methods in their own work.
Figure out the “community as labs” piece. How we innovate and create open tech along the way.
Hire leadership. Create an executive-level role to lead the strategy process and build out the program.
Test pilot programs. Develop a handbook / short course for new fellows.
Test with fellows and ReMo. Consider expanding fellows programs for science, web literacy and computer science research.
Learn more. There’s much more detail on the Learning Networks, Learning Products and Leadership Development pieces in the complete Mozilla Learning plan.
Get involved. There’s plenty of easy ways to get involved now with Webmaker and our local Learning Networks today.
Get more hands-on. Want to go deeper? Get hands-on with code, curriculum, planning and more through build.webmaker.org
BadgeLAB Leeds: badges for arts-based learning in the UK
BadgeLAB Leeds is a partnership amongst ArtForms Leeds, Sheffield Hallam University and DigitalMe. The project works with local arts organisations and arts practitioners to help them create badges that recognise arts-based learning. BadgeLAB Leeds offers learning events for schools, learning programmes and informal audiences.
Buzz, one of the participating arts programmes, is for young people aged 14 to 25 who have a learning disability. It’s offered by West Yorkshire Playhouse at First Floor, their designated creative space for young people.Bee, featured in the above video, is an artist and support worker for Buzz who attended a Badge Design Dayback in September.
Head over to the blog (link below) to read an interview with Maria, Co-ordinator at Buzz, about BadgeLAB Leeds.
1. micro: how might we promote the unique Privacy Day content on the splash page for the 28th?
2. macro: how might we incorporate promotional interest-based content into the real estate on the Webmaker splash page on an ongoing basis?
Constraints: needs to be conceived, designed and implemented within 2 weeks.
Start from the beginning
I took a look at the current splash page. The content that we are promoting is directly connected to the Mozilla mission, so I identified a sliver of space directly above the section where we state the project's values. My thinking here is that we are creating a three tier hierarchy of values on the page: 1) we are webmaker - we are all about making - and this is what you can do right this second to get started, 2) we are deeply concerned about [privacy] - and this what you can do right now to dive into that topic and 3)we are more than just making + [privacy] - here are all the things that we value.
I SEE what you did there
That sliver was great, but it was below the non-existent but deeply considered fold of the page. If this was a painting I would create a repoussoir element to bring the users attention to the core content by framing the edge. In the painting below you can see that tree branch that directs your attention directly into the heart of the composition.
Building off of my thinking from designing the Mozilla snippet and the onboarding ux, I wanted to make this repoussoir element something that a user might find quirky, whimsical or relateable. All of the other elements on the page were expected and kind of standard elements for a webpage. I needed to create something that would be subtle yet attention grabbing. Looking at subject of privacy, I immediately had associations with corporations and individuals big- brothering me as I visited web pages. I realized that the activity we were directing users to was called private eye - and this led me to create a small asset that features an eyeball that follows your cursor around as you explore the splash page. On hover it will flip and direct you to the activity.This worked for desktop, but for mobile we would have to simulate the action by having a simple CSS eyeball animation center aligned on the sliver. Major props here go out to Aki who had to invoke the pythagorean theorem to get the eye to follow the cursor without leaving the sclera.
I did a study of eyeballs on redpen and immediately got a ton of community and staff feedback - which told me two things: 1. it was a conversation topic and 2. people liked the very first eyeball that I drew.
Let me give you a walk through
From Mozilla's perspective, we are testing:
whimsy vs. traditional promotional placement
mission driven content
how many people are we getting to engage with Webmaker and sign up for new accounts
What's Next Up:
This will be deployed on staging on Monday and then our goal is to go live on January 28th, which is Privacy Day!
Now that we have a promotional framework, figuring out how to incorporate a richer learning experience around mission - based content.
Users can opt into enrolling in a sustained challenge - based Webmaker activity. Almost as if it's a virtual Webmaker club.
This year, we’re encouraging the community to have much more of a voice on the community calls, with “open mic” style updates and presentations.
This week, Sunny Lee shared her hopes for badges in 2015, including continuing work on endorsement, the Directory and display tools. A number of community members, including Serge Ravet, are working on projects such as the Open Badge Passport to make badge sharing and display easier for earners. Tim Cook from the Sprout Fund also hopes 2015 will bring more display options such as backpacks and passports, as well as progress on backpack federation. Many community members are also working on increased documentation for badging projects in 2015 - James Willis is putting the Design Principles Documentation Project’s final report together, with “research and hard data” to contribute to our research base. Exciting stuff!
We also heard from Nate Otto and Beth Unverzagt, who are founding members of the Oregon Badge Alliance. This sparked a discussion of how a selection of organizations came together to form “a network of partners in Oregon who want to advance education with technology.” They are kicking off 12 pilot projects in 2015, including workforce readiness programs, after school groups, higher education and informal learning organizations. Wayne Skipper, another of the Oregon Badge Alliance’s founding members, said the key to forming this regional alliances finding a “core group serving different roles with complementary skills” across different sectors. We hope to follow up with the folks in Oregon and get some advice for others who might want to start their own local or regional collaborations.
Finally, we heard from Mercè Muntada,Jordi Moretón and Eduardo Millán, who together developed BadgeCulture, a project to engage people in cultural tourism activities in Spain. They recently launched an open beta at www.badgeculture.com and are looking for further tools and user testing before progressing further. Badges are still a new concept in Spain, so they’re also doing a lot of evangelism and education on the concept of badges before taking BadgeCulture to the next level and developing badges.
If you’ve got a badging project you’re thinking about or working on, please join us next Wednesday at 12pm ET and share it with the community!
For the last few years, Joi Ito has been blogging about learning to dive with PADI. It wasn’t until I became certified as a diver myself that I really understood how much we can learn from PADI’s educational model.
Here’s a summary of how PADI works, including ideas that we could apply to Webmaker.
The Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) has been around since the late 1960’s. It trained over 130,000 diving instructors to issue millions of learning certifications to divers around the world. Many instructors run their own local businesses, who’s main service is to rent out gear and run tours for certified divers, or to certify people learning how to dive.
Through its certification service, PADI became the diving community’s de facto standard-bearer and educational hub. Nearly all diving equipment, training and best practices align with PADI.
No doubt, PADI is a moneymaking machine. Every rung of their engagement ladder comes with a hefty price tag. Diving is not an access-for-all sport. For example, part of the PADI training is about learning how to make informed consumer choices about the dive equipment, which they will later sell to you.
Nevertheless, I do think there is lots of learn from their economic and engagement model.
Blended learning with PADI
PADI uses blended learning to certify its divers.
They mix a multi-hour online theoretical part (regrettably, it’s just memorization) with several in-person skills trainings in the pool and open water. Divers pay a fee ($200-500) to access the learning materials and to work with an instructor. They also send you a physical kit with stickers, pamphlets and a logbook you can use on future dives.
Dive instructors teach new divers in very small groups (mine was 1:1 to maximum of 1:3). It’s very hands-on and tailored to the learner’s pace. Nevertheless, it has a pretty tight script. The instructor has a checklist of things to teach in order to certify the learner, and you work through those quite methodically. The online theory complements the lessons in the water, although for my course they could’ve cut about 3 hours of video nerding out on dive equipment.
There is room for instructor discretion and lots of local adaptation. For example, you are taught to understand local dive practices and conditions, like currents and visibility, which inform how you adapt the PADI international diving standard to your local dives. This gives the instructor some agency and adaptability.
Having a point of view
PADI makes its point of view very clear. Their best practices are so explicit, and oft-repeated, that as a learner you really internalize their perspective. In the water, you immediately flag any detraction from The PADI Way.
Mainly, these mantras are for your own safety: breathe deeply and regularly, always dive with a buddy, etc. But by distilling their best practices so simply and embedding them deeply and regularly in the training, as a learner you become an advocate for these practices as well.
Learning with a buddy
The buddy system is particularly interesting. It automatically builds in peer learning and also responsibility for yourself and your buddy. You’re taught to rely on each other, not the dive instructor. You solve each others problems, and this helps you become empowered in the water.
Furthermore, PADI makes its learning pathways very explicit and achievable. After doing one of the entry level certification, Open Water Diving, I feel intrigued to take on the next level and trying out some of the specializations, like cave diving and night diving.
Throughout the course, you see glimpses of what is possible with further training. You can see more advanced skills and environments becoming unlocked as you gather more experience. The PADI system revolves around tiers of certifications unlocking gear and new kinds of dives, which they do a good job of making visible and appealing.
You can teach, too.
What’s even more impressive is that the combination of the buddy/peer learning model and the clear pathways makes becoming an instructor seem achievable and aspirational—even when you just started learning.
As a beginner diver, I already felt excited by the possibility of teaching others to dive. Becoming a PADI instructor seems cool and rewarding. And it feels very accessible within the educational offering: you share skills with your buddy; with time and experience, you can teach more skills and people.
Training the trainers
Speaking of instructors, PADI trains them in an interesting way as well. Like new divers, instructors are on a gamification path: you earn points for every diver you certify and for doing various activities in the community. With enough points, you qualify for select in-person instructor trainings or various gear promotions.
Instructors are trained in the same model that they teach: it’s blended, with emphasis on in-person training with a small group of people. You observe a skill, then do it yourself, and then teach it. PADI flies about 100 instructors-to-be to a good dive destination and teaches them in-person for a week or so. Instructors pay for the flights and the training.
At some point, you can earn enough points and training as an instructor that you can certify other instructors. This is the pinnacle of the PADI engagement ladder. We’re doing something similar with Webmaker: the top of the engagement ladder is a Webmaker Super Mentor. That’s someone who trains other mentors. It’s meta, and only appeals to a small subset of people, but it’s a very impactful group.
What’s the role of PADI staff? This is a question we often ask ourselves in the Webmaker context. Mainly, PADI staff are administrators. Some will visit local dive centers to conduct quality control or write up new training modules. They are generally responsible for coordinating instructors and modeling PADI practices.
Local learning, global community
The local diver centers and certified instructors are PADI’s distribution model.
Divers go to a local shop to buy gear, take tours and trainings. The local shop is a source of economic revenue for the instructors and for PADI. As divers level up within the PADI system, they can access more gear and dive tours from these shops.
Lastly, PADI imparts its learners with a sense of stewardship of the ocean. It empowers you in a new ecosystem and then teaches you to be an ambassador for it. You feel responsibility and care for the ocean, once you’ve experienced it in this new way.
Importantly, this empowerment relies on experiential learning. You don’t feel it just by reading about the ocean. It’s qualitatively different to have seen the coral and sea turtles and schools of fish yourself.
The theory and practice dives in the pool ready you for the stewardship. But you have to do a full dive, in the full glory of the open water, to really get it.
I think this is hugely relevant for Webmaker as well: it’s all good to read about the value of the open web. But it’s not until you’re in the midst of exploring and making in the open web do you realize how important that ecosystem is. Real experience begets responsibility.
PADI encourages several ways for you to give back and put your stewardship to use: pick up litter, do aquatic life surveys, teach others about the waters, etc.
They show you that there is a community of divers that you are now a part of. It strikes a good balance between unlocking experiences for you personally and then showing you how you can act upon them to benefit a larger effort.
As mentioned, there are many shortcomings to the PADI system. It’s always pay-to-play, it’s educational materials are closed and ridiculously not remixable, it’s not accessible in many parts of the world due to (understandable) environmental limitations. Advocacy for the ocean is a by-product of their offering, not its mission.
Still, aspects of their economic and learning model are worth considering for other social enterprises. How can instructors make revenue so they can teach full-time and as a career? How can gear be taught and sold so that divers get quality equipment they know how to use? How can experiential learning be packaged so that you know the value of what you’re getting and skills along the way?
I’m pretty inspired by having experienced the PADI Open Water Diving certification process. In the coming months, I’d like to test and apply some of these practices to our local learning center model, the Webmaker Clubs.
If you have more insights on how to do this, or other models worth looking at, share them here!
After working for about three years with Forrest we finally meet him on a meet up of The Grid team.
During the first days we were preparing a workshop for MozFest's #ArtOfWeb track. The idea was to present a quick introduction to Flowhub/NoFlo and how to use it to draw with Mirobot. Then we would let people create their own drawings.
Having the robot represented as a component made it easier to even explain to people how it was drawing: "the SendCommand component waits for commands --- like go forward or turn left --- so when it receives a new command, it sends it to the robot. When the robot finishes drawing, it signalizes banging the completed port, so we are good for the next command".
For the workshop Gabi created a NoFlo graph that draws contours of a given image:
Given an image as input (the heart), the graph extracts its edges and chooses random points from it. If we give those points to Mirobot draw randomly, it will end up with a random path that wouldn't remember the original shape of a heart. We have to order the points in a way the robot will travel along the shortest path. We have a Travelling Salesman Person solver that finds the shortest path. After converting cartesian coordinates to polar ones --- because Mirobot just understands translations and rotations, remember? forward X and turn left/right Y --- we send the commands to Mirobot and using noflo-canvas we draw a preview. Here's the result:
The other graph collects points someone draw on a canvas and after sending that, Mirobot draws them on paper:
Our session did its job. We had people curious about the drawing robot, nice discussions about procedural vs flow-based programming and really nice collaborative drawings.
Henri recorded the following time-lapse video. A really nice way to capture this kind of session.
The festival ended up with a demo party where the most revealing feeling of collaboration and aesthetics experimentation took its place. Surrounded by curtains, music and projections, people and robots joined again to draw together.
We hope the next workshops are like this last experience and we'll try to make it happen more in the future. As well pointed by Kat, "let's (re)make networked art".
We really want to thank and give a huge hug on all people we met. To our dear colleagues of The Grid, that made it possible to happen, thank you for all. To Mozilla, thank you to bring this amazing people together for a better Web of openness and opportunity.
Looking forward to keep phreaking art and meet you all again this year!
Over the past five years, the Digital Media and Learning Competition has awarded $10 million to more than 100 projects — including the Badges for Lifelong Learning Competition, which kicked off 30 badging projects, many of which are still going strong today.
This year’s competition is The Trust Challenge: an open, international invitation to museums, libraries, school districts, schools, community organizations, app developers, researchers, colleges and universities, and other institutional/organizational partners willing to create collaborations or alliances that address existing real-world challenges to trust in connected learning environments.
Many of you, our innovative and motivated community, submitted badging proposals to the Trust Challenge. Among the finalists are the following projects that we encourage you to vote for before January 20, 2015:
Reputation building tools for Open Badge issuers
BadgeCraft offers tools for organisations to design, manage and issue Open Badges in their educational practices. Our proposal will focus on developing reputation building tools for badge issuers and Open Badges within the wider community of potential endorsers: schools, parents, employers. We will partner with Trustribe to develop reputation building solutions. Trustribe has developed technology which enables users building and transferring their reputation across different collaborative platforms. We want to adapt their technology and know-how to enhance badge issuing process with reputation tools.
Oregon Center for Digital Learning Trust Ecosystem Project
The Trust Ecosystem Project will work with 12 pilot badge programs, employers, and Oregon Badge Alliance partners in workforce development, government, K12 and higher education to build software and a framework for connecting learning experiences with Open Badges. The project aims to close the loop between badge issuers, earners and consumers by building software that represents the interests of each stakeholder group. Each application will be released open source as well as hosted for public use. Beyond software, the Trust Ecosystem Project will organize a youth advisory council and will bootstrap a trust network around badges with pilot programs and badge-consumer partners in Oregon, yielding a variety of case studies and potentially exportable implementation models.
The project aims at establishing a native, distributed, open trust infrastructure based on a network of Open Badge Passports (OBPassport) that seamlessly issue, receive, share and display badges. Fully OBI compliant and open source, the OBPassport will provide users and organizations with their own backpacks and create the conditions for the emergence of new services through the provision of an open API. The OBPassport will provide social features, such as the creation of badge aggregations at group, network, organization or business levels, the display of badges earned by friends in one’s activity stream, or the search for people with a specific badge, sharing evidence across passports.
Global Gateway: Building Trust Through Peer Review
VIF’s Global Gateway system provides online professional development (PD), digital badging and a social community to over 8,000 educators from around the world. To further our trusted environment, educators need opportunities to engage in focused peer and expert review of learning products. The proposed Global Gateway enhancement will allow teachers to choose between completing PD modules or progressing toward competency badges while fostering a trusted peer review community.
ForAllRubrics is hoping to develop ForAllLearners, a tool to help learners navigate all their learning experiences throughout their lifetime. Badging as credentialing supports learning from the point of view of employers, schools and others that control opportunities. During this project we will focus on badging in the context of work readiness with the goal of creating practical working exemplars of how these three approaches to badging complement each other and make for a more effective learning ecosystem.
The Digital Media and Learning Competition is a program designed to find and to inspire the most novel uses of new media in support of connected learning. The Competition aims to explore how technologies are changing the way people learn and participate in daily life. It is supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation through a grant to the University of California, Irvine, and is administered by HASTAC.
Easier said than done. Back in the day, my amazing colleague Jess Klein made an epic PDF laying out a lesson plan for what was then known as Hackasaurus. People who teach started using it left and right, and when I saw it for the first time I thought “Holy moly that looks like a fun bit of curriculum.” But I didn’t need all of it. I only needed piecesandparts (many of which, BTW, are baked in, remixed and modified within Webmaker Teaching Kits), and so I started to think about the models we use when we make curriculum. The old smelly models that didn’t evolve as technology evolved.
[caption id="attachment_2523" align="aligncenter" width="500"] A map of all the resources and their connections to an initial Teaching Kit[/caption]
I’ve always thought the models and systems could be better, so several years ago I started working on an educational model that centered on the idea that educators ALWAYS remix. I thought that if the model was clear, we could tackle the problems of OERs while making new curriculum to #TeachTheWeb. Fast forward about five years and the OER (open educational resources) movement has become something that is well known within the open and the educational communities. But people are still publishing their resources in ways that make remix hard, and as a result we edunerds tend to remix on the fly.
We implemented the model in HTML, creating overview pages that were separate from activities. The idea was to separate all the pieces and parts of curriculum – the learning objectives, the assessment criteria, the activities, the overviews – so that any one individual part could be remixed into a new bit of curriculum. We tried to lay this model out using the mechanics of the web to make the modularity and remixability clear, but we began to realize that
“No one remixes the HTML. It’s too high bar.”
So now, I’m trying to figure out how we can collect those on the fly remixes and get educators to understand how important their ideas and feedback is when it comes to learning materials. What works? What doesn’t work? How did someone remix context?
I think that Webmaker could become the clearinghouse for Web Literacy OERs, and to do so, I think remixability is key. I still think the model is solid, but we haven’t gotten to a place where remixing curriculum is common place. This post begins to explore WHY.
The Problems of OERs
1. Open Licenses are Confusing and Attribution is Hard
"confusion over copyright, fair use, and Creative Commons is one of things that makes many educators hesitant about adopting any new resources, licensing be damned.” - Audrey Watters
"Often resources using more open licenses incorporate or refer to media that are made available using a more restrictive license.” (Tel Amiel 2013)
In education there is “…still a limited understanding of how to move beyond some of the encumbrances— specifically with regard to reusing others’ content as well as more complex reuse behaviors that lead to new configurations of existing content” (Petrides et al., 2008, p. 352). (Tel Amiel 2013)
Users need to be able to contextualize credit depending on how they’ve used a resource.
Is the resource BY someone who used an open license or is the user under Fair Use?
Is the resource a light edit of someone else’s?
Was the resource based on or inspired by someone else’s?
2. Users don’t have time to make the required effort
“Faculty consistently listed the time and effort to find and evaluate open educational resources as the most important barriers to adoption.” (Open the Curriculum 2014)
“Existing educational sites and repositories contribute to this concern. Most are focused on the distribution and dissemination of resources and provided little guidance or tools for those who wish to make revisions or remix existing resources.” (Tel Amiel 2013)
Staff (anywhere) rarely have the time to review all the resources submitted. We build software and communities though, so how can automation or, much more importantly, social evaluation make it easy for users to find quality curriculum?
3. There are technical barriers to remix
“When presenting OER development and use, many of the restrictions derived from our working scenario came to the forefront. In many cases, the source guides assumed a reader with substantial access to computer-based resources. “ (Tel Amiel 2013)
"The process of remix is usually associated with four steps: finding, relating, creating, and sharing resources...Many of the online portals, which contain more openly licensed resources either do not have alternative language interfaces or metadata, which impacts both finding and sharing resources in these sites." (Tel Amiel 2013)
We have to design mobile-first and keep our need for localization at the forefront. We know this, but we also need to find more ways for lo-fi, no-fi communities to share their offline remixes (e.g. a couple of community managers does not a stable system make).
[caption id="attachment_2524" align="aligncenter" width="500"] Creative Commons licensing table and an early Mozilla Drumbeat project that aimed to make attribution easy.[/caption]
Make licensing and attribution easy, embedded. I’ll leave it to the amazing devs and designers to figure out what exactly that means, but building this into our tools from the onset is a way to encourage remix at all levels (both in learner focused and mentor focused content).
“Reuse is perhaps reminiscent of the rhetoric around learning objects as they were presented as blocks of media that could be reused and assembled for different contexts, a metaphor that did not hold in practice (Fulantelli et al., 2008; Gunn et al., 2005).”
Make remixability & modularity obvious and lean into social evaluation. This is as much about presentation as it is about functionality. We are missing context around our educational model. We’re starting to do that with the Club curriculum, where we are building resources on how to remix as well as giving examples of why and when and how we’ve remixed.
Build the thing that makes it easy for others to build their thing (no matter what device they have). As we build features for our communities, continuing to encourage open interaction is essential to changing the landscape of OERs (and open in general). What are the ways in which we can utilize existing systems to encourage remixable curriculum? We’ve thought on this before…
Leave me comments and check out the Bibliography:
During my webinar I’ll be going through introductory stuff around Webmaker, the Web Literacy Map, and the Webmaker whitepaper. I’m also interested in any questions you’ve got, so please do ask them as comments below! I’ll try and answer as many as possible during the webinar.
* That’s 9am PT / 12pm ET / 5pm GMT / 6pm CET / 10.30 IST / 4am AET
I love Los Angeles. Peel back the Hollywood veneer and, at its core, it’s a city that belives in putting in the work.
Which is why I’m excited to be in LA this week with our 2015 cohort of Knight-Mozilla Fellows to start the work of the fellowship year. With a distributed fellowship like ours, where fellows will spend far more time apart than together, it’s important to start the experience building the pathways of collaboration, community, and sharing that we want our fellows to continue to utilize throughout their fellowship year. It’s also an opportunity to meet somewhere warm and to celebrate the start of an amazing year.
We’re not just celebrating the start of the fellowship year at this onboarding, we’re also welcoming our final fellow for 2015: Kavya Sukumar, who will be spending her fellowship year at Vox Media.
Kavya is a developer-journalist who appreciates both elegant code and well-written prose. Everything about journalism fascinates her and she wants in on it all. She has reported and written stories, analyzed data and built a CMS. She has more than eight years of experience working at technology companies as well as in newsrooms. Kavya was a software engineer at Microsoft when the journalism bug bit her. She has a graduate degree from Medill School of Journalism where she was a Knight Scholar. She is currently a Data & Interactives Editor with the The Palm Beach Post’s investigative team.
In the UK, Barclay’s Bank kicked off an exciting new initiative issuing badges for digital skills - check it out here;
If you’ve got more to share from the past few weeks, make sure to tweet it using the hashtag #openbadges…….it’s been awesome to see how much has come out over the holidays, and we can’t wait to see what 2015 has in store!
The first time that someone comes to your website is like a high school dance at the gym. You want that hottie who you have been thinking about all year to be attracted to you and join you on the dance floor . You want to show them what you are all about: how you aren't just about the MC Hammer pants and bikini top you are wearing (dating myself much?) - and you have the moves to prove it. This dance is just the beginning - you really want to go steady, but you have to start somewhere, right?
When designing the on-boarding experience, we have a few goals:
We should make a positive user experience where the visitor learns something within minutes of interacting
We should have the user take some action which results in signing up for a Webmaker account
We should give the user a clear and compelling reason to return.
Deeply inspired by the theory ofHanging Out, Messing Around and Geeking Out: Kids Living and Learning with New Media, I started to think about what a low bar way might be to get people to dance with me. The idea is that there is a progression and/or just different ways that a site visitor might interact with the site. I wanted to create an experience for the user, that will allow them to walk away having seen a little bit of code, had the a ha! moment, the realization that there is so much to learn about the way that the web is crafted - and most importantly: that remixing the web is an approachable challenge. According to this chart below, we could argue that most of our site visitors are at the beginning of the customer awareness journey.
Start from the beginning --- err where is that exactly?
I started by doing anexploratory sketch - asking where might users first see/ interact with the Goggles on Webmaker? I see 5 main areas of contact:
Within the Goggles interface upon activating the bookmarklet
For thisheartbeat (and the build sprint after) we decided to focus on number 1 via 2 (Join Webmaker user flow via the landing page) as the goal for the first quarter is to improve our conversion of visitors to Webmaker.org into makers.
Think through the user flow
With a clear scope, I took a stab at thinking through potential user flows (ahem,dance moves). What interactions might I be able to design that could help the user gain an understanding of the awesome potential of Webmaker and come away with learning a little bit about making things on the web within the first few minutes of their site visit? On a traditional site, this is where I would do a product tour - to tell the visitor about all the bells and whistles. But, let's remember, we are at a high school dance. We don't want to just tell that hottie about how great we are, we want them to hold our hand and dance with us. So what exactly is our dance? It's an introduction to the site through an interactive tinkering activity.
I had some experience tackling this user experience challenge a few months backwhen I designed the Maker Party snippet for the Firefox about page. Here, we were trying to coax visitors to the About Page to sign up for Webmaker AND ... (the cooler part) expose them to a little bit of code through modeling a playful interaction that they in turn would emulate. We found this approach to be successful. I personally user tested the page with a variety of site visitors in the Hive Learning Network and found that the animated modeling of the CSS value being typed acted as I would as a teacher in a classroom, or a friend showing someone how to approach the problem, asking the friend to try it out themselves. This approach could easily translate to an activity on the landing page where we show a visitor how to edit some playfully placed text using the X-Ray Goggles.
Approach 1: Modeling
Modeling tries to emulate the way you might teach this in a classroom environment - you show the actions that you want the learner to emulate. See complete mockup here.
I also tackled this challenge of getting a user to dabble with new information and content in theweather activity experiment for the Hour of Code. Here, I thought about how I like to follow recipes and get feedback as I do each each step in a staged progression. (This would be like... someone teaching you how to do the macarena step by step at the dance)
Approach 2: Stage Progression
The staged progression allows the user to read, and then asks them to try it out, providing little tips along the way.See complete mockup here.
After getting some feedback from my colleagues and a few user testers I am leaning towards a hybrid approach - where you might model for them at each "step."
Next up: enticing your friend to get on the dance floor
All of the user flows and interaction designs are a good exercise, but if the icebreaker prompt isn't enticing, then it's no good.So - I did a few iterations:
Name tag fill in the blank --- this could somehow tie in to the sign up flow.
Venn Diagrams - probably too designerdy but I couldn't help myself.
Fill in the blank - I <3 webmaking.="">
Fill in the blank - attempt 2. I like this one the most at the moment because it has a focal point, and it feels a bit disruptive, like Webmaker itself.
Next up: Finding those dancing shoes.
To get to an interactive prototype, we need to:
Design the hybrid interaction design (modeling + staged progression)
Choose a direction and then work on the UI elements
Wordsmith the copy.
User test with real humans!
Designing an on-boarding is like asking someone to the dance floor ----testing if your pits stink and all, so I would love to hear any thoughts if I've got any moves.
Schew! What a year! As you know, we wrapped Cycle 1 of the working groups up at the end of September - after 6-7 months of great work and contribution from the network. Since then, the team and I have been working to document all of the successes and challenges that came out of this first experimental cycle, and we plan to share those reports early in the new year. We’ve already celebrated many of the successes (and you!) for getting us there, for which I thank you again. In the new year, you can also expect a series of posts from me on lessons learned and ideas around next phases of the work. So much more to come there.
But as we wind down 2014, I felt it was important to highlight the things that I think need to happen next year, and the things that I’m particularly excited about digging into together in some capacity.
Badge Alliance Executive Director Erin Knight reflects on the year coming to a close and looks ahead to the exciting things 2015 holds in store for the badges community.
2014 has seen a lot of development in the open badges world. You can see all the cool things we did and worked on here.
Reflecting back on the past year allows us an opportunity to take pause and inventory the tremendous amount of work and activity around open badges that occurred and the advances we made to further our goal of reimagining credentialing for the 21st century so that it is interoperable, democratic, open and designed with the learner in mind.
But it also gets meexcited about 2015 and thinking about what I want to work on in the next year; i.e. what’s personally interesting to me, what I get most energized about and where I think we’ll get the most “bang for our buck” in terms of broader adoption.
Here’s my list:
* Adoption and ongoing experimentation of the open badges standard extension
The standard the standard the STANDARD! Are you sick of hearing about the standard yet? I know I know but that’s how important it is! It’s the underpinning of all our work enabling credentials to be all the things we want it to be; interoperable, stackable, portable and easily shareable. We’ve made a lot of advances on the foundational standards framework during Cycle 1 of the Badge Alliance Standard Working Group adapting JSON-LD technology to enable extending open badge metadata such that it is machine readable and indexable. We have shared the 1.1 proposal of the extension framework with the broader community and have put it through the feedback and iteration cycle. Having done that, in 2015 I’m eager for the community to start plugging in. The extension specification is super exciting because it allows badge issuing organizations to append additional metadata fields to any of the badge objects (i.e. badge assertion, badge class, issuer).
* Image courtesy of Nate Otto
Oft-talked about extension field possibilities include location data, endorsement, additional identities, etc.
What’s really neat about the extension field is that we can experiment in a coordinated way. Say, my organization thinks location data is really important within my community so I decide to define a location extension context and add it to the Badge Class object. After introducing the field, I notice that other organizations are starting to use the context file in which I define my location field with increasing frequency. As more and more organizations start utilizing the location field, I can potentially bring this up with the Standards community and build a case to add the location field to the standard proper.
* Making endorsement a reality by using the open badges standard extension field
Once we get organizations playing with the extension field for endorsement, I think things will get interesting. There are still a lot of things around endorsement that needs discussion and unpacking such as the following:
What’s the user experience around an issuer organization endorsing another organization’s badge class?
What’s the user experience around an issuer organization endorsing an earner’s badge instance?
What’s the user experience of a badge consumer who wants to review the endorsements a badge class has received?
What’s the user experience of a badge earner who wants to review the endorsements her particular badge instance has received?
What’s the user experience around an issuer organization or badge earner rejecting an unwanted endorsement?
How are the various endorsements a badge class or badge instance has received displayed so that it is both human and machine readable?
As folks start to pick up and run with the extension field, we can start to pin point with more accuracy the pain points people are experiencing in utilizing the endorsement field for their needs. We can use that data to triage and prioritize how to make the experience smoother for all participating parties to help support endorsement adoption.
I concluded my last blog with some next step suggestions such as listing badge instances in addition to badge classes, additional API end points and exploring ways in which we can lower the barrier of entry for badge issuers and being more articulate about the value proposition of the directory offering.
Pending usage and uptick of the extension field in 2015, we could also list badges according to location data, or endorsement information, standards alignment, and more.
In 2015 I want the directory to be at a place where twitter was circa 2008; minimal UI with production ready back end and APIs developers could easily plug into. With badge instance, badge class, endorsement data and the like available with easy access points, I can see an employer-facing application develop on top of the directory that enables hiring managers to extract badge earner listings based on certain badges, endorsements, tags and location, deriving practical value for organizational needs. This paves the way for employer tool development making it easier for employers to plug in and start accepting badges, completing the badge narrative from issuance to consumption for hiring.
* Making a kick ass open badges display tool
It’s hard to “get” or wrap your head around what you don’t see and I think herein lies the problem with bridging the gap between early to mainstream adoption of open badges. The pitch is there and more and more people are coming on board, acknowledging the value proposition of an interoperable digital credential but we still don’t have a simple example of a visualized open badge that we can point to that has been verified, earned and displayed with all the meaningful data easily extractable on somewhere as simple as a Facebook timeline or blog. We need a simple display tool that helps folks easily share and display their open badges wherever they want. I think this tool should satisfy several needs currently not met with satisfaction in the ecosystem:
Earner can easily share earned badge on various websites, via email or attachment
Badge reviewer can easily extract and view the badge metadata
Metadata is both human and machine readable
Badge reviewer can verify whether badge earner matches the person claiming the badge
Current display capabilities do exist but they don’t do a good job at fully telling the potential and value of an open badge. A display tool that makes it simplistic and easy to share and review an open badge will go a long way in helping guide a broader audience to adoption.
This is already a pretty extensive list with each major bullet warranting multiple blog posts on their own. I know it’s highly ambitious aiming to tackle all of these but I think we have the right community, resources, thought leadership and organizational partners at the table to work on these collaboratively and in parallel with one another. I can’t help but think 2015 is the pivotal year that takes open badges several steps closer to mainstream adoption. I’m so excited for what’s in store and can’t wait to dive in.
Welcome to the year’s final edition of the Badger Beats - and what a year it’s been!
From February’s launch of the Badge Alliance and the collaborative efforts of the various Working Groups, resulting in an impressive set of deliverables from Cycle 1, to the summer’s exciting CGI Commitment for 10 Million Better Futures, this year we’ve seen just how much can be done when our community works together. The Cities of Learning and the emergence of new international badging communities pushed badges into new areas, while ongoing efforts in higher education, workforce, research and professional development strengthened the work the community had already done.
For now, let’s look back at what happened this week:
Anne Hole published a paper on badges for the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education, - read the abstract here;
Jarin Schmidt has spent more than 14 years in the credentialing industry at Pearson, and was product lead for Pearson’s badging platform, Acclaim. Schmidt now supports the platform as a business development executive and recently wrote a piece for the Institute of Credentialing Excellence titled "Badging: The End of a Trend," in which he examines the momentum of the badging movement over recent years and offers his insights into the Acclaim team’s findings since launching their platform at the beginning of the year:
Now Is the Time to Go Digital
Dynamic digital badges can evolve in response to changing needs within the global economy. They are a viable resource for credential issuers and earners that:
Inform and enable credentialing organizations to evolve their programs based on direct feedback from the market in order to meet skill gaps;
Increase brand value through more transparent recognition of what it takes to earn a credential;
Engage credential earners with the issuers over the span of a career, instead of a moment in time;
Provide credential earners with the kind of verified recognition that is relevant in the digital world.
Badges aren’t just a trend to watch; they are happening now. And now is the perfect time to start badging your credential.
Ever since version 1 of the Web Literacy Map came out, I’ve been waiting to see people take it and adjust it or interpret it for specific educational endeavors that are outside the wheelhouse of “teach the web”. As I’ve said before, I think the web can be embedded into anything, and I want to see the anything embedded into the web. I’ve been wanting to see how people put a lens on top of the web literacy map and combine teaching the web with educating a person around Cognitive Skill X.
I’ve had ideas, but never put them out into the world. I was kind of waiting for someone to do it for me (ahem Web Literacy community :P
Lately I’ve been realizing that I work to develop socio-emotional skills while I teach the web, and I wanted to see if I could look at the Web Literacy Map from a personal, but social (e.g. psychosocial) angle. What, exactly, does web literacy mean in the context of Identity?
First things first - there’s a media education theory (in this book) suggesting that technology has complicated our “identity”. It’s worth mentioning because it’s interesting, and I think it’s worth noting that I didn’t consider all the nuances of these various identities in thinking about how the Web Literacy Map becomes the Web Literacy Map for Identity.
We as human beings have multiple, distinct identities we have to deal with in life. We have to deal with who we are with family vs with friends vs alone vs professionally regardless of whether or not we are online, but with the development of the virtual space, the theory suggests that identity has become even more complicated. Additionally, we now have to deal with:
The Real Virtual: an anonymous online identity that you try on. Pretending to be a particular identity online because you are curious as to how people react to it? That’s not pretending, really, it’s part of your identity that you need answers to curiosities.
The Real IN Virtual: an online identity that is affiliated with an offline identity. My name is Laura offline as well. Certain aspects of my offline personality are mirrored in the online space. My everyday identity is (partially) manifested online.
The Virtual IN Real: a kind of hybrid identity that you adopt when you interact first in an online environment and then in the physical world. People make assumptions about you when they meet you for the first time. Technology partially strips us of certain communication mannerisms (e.g. Body language, tone, etc), so those assumptions are quite different if you met through technology and then in real life.
The Virtual Real: an offline identity from a compilation of data about a particular individual. Shortly: Identity theft.
So, back to the Web Literacy Map: Identity - As you can gather from a single theory about the human understanding of “self”, Identity is a complicated topic anyway. But I like thinking about complicated problems. So here’s my first thinking about how Identity can be seen as a lens on top of the Web Literacy Map.
Exploring Identity (and the web)
Navigation – Identity is personal, so maybe part of web literacy is about personalizing your experience. Perhaps skills become more granular when we talk about putting a lens on the Map?
Example granularity: common features of the browser skill might break down into “setting your own homepage” and “pinning apps and bookmarks”.
Web Mechanics - I didn’t find a way to lens this competency. It’s the only one I couldn’t. Very frustrating to have ONE that doesn’t fit. What does that say about Web Mechanics or the Web Literacy Map writ large?
Search – Identity is manifested, so your tone and mood might dictate what you search for and how you share it. Are you a satirist? Are you funny? Are you serious or terse? Search is a connective competency under this lens because it connects your mood/tone to your manifestation of identity.
Example skill modification/addition: Locating or finding desired information within search results ——> using specialized search machines to find desired emotional expression. (e.g. GIPHY!)
Credibility – Identity is formed through beliefs and faith, and I wouldn’t have a hard time arguing that those things influence your understanding of credible information. If you believe something and someone confirms your belief, you’ll likely find that person more credible than someone who rejects your belief.
Example skill modification/addition: Comparing information from a number of sources to judge the trustworthiness of content ——> Comparing information from a number of sources to judge the trustworthiness of people
Security - Identity is influenced heavily by relationships. Keeping other people’s data secure seems like part of the puzzle, and there’s something about the innate need to keep people who have influenced your identity positively secure. I don’t have an example for this one off the top of my head, but it’s percolating.
[caption id="attachment_2514" align="aligncenter" width="500"] braindump[/caption]
Building Identity (and the web)
Composing for the Web, Remixing, and Coding/Scripting allow us to be expressive about our identities. The expression is the WHY of any of this, so directly connected to your own identity. It connects into your personality, motivations, and a mess of thinking skills we need to function in our world. Skills underneath these competencies could be modified to incorporate those emotional and psychological traits of that expression.
Design and Accessibility – Values are inseparable from our identities. I think design and accessibility is a competency that radiates a persons values. It’s ok to back burner this if you’re being expressive for the sake of being expressive, but if you have a message, if you are being expressive in an effort to connect with other people (which, let’s face it, is part of the human condition), design and accessibility is a value. Not sure how I would modify the skills…
Infrastructure - I was thinking that this one pulled in remembrance as a part of identity. Exporting data, moving data, understanding the internet stack and how to adequately use it so that you can keep a record of your or someone else’s online identity has lots of implications for remembrance, which I think influences who we are as much as anything else.
Example skill modification/addition: “Exporting and backing up your data from web services” might lead to “Analyzing historical data to determine identity shifts”
That's all for now. I've thought a little about the final strand, but I'm going to save it for next year. I would like to hear what you all think. Is this a useful experiment for the Web Literacy Map? Does this kind of thinking help hone in on ways to structure learning activities that use the web? Can you help me figure out what my brain is doing?
Happy holidays everyone ;)
1. We’re putting together a Tiki Toki timeline of Open Badges for 2014 (check out last year’s timeline!) If you or your organization have badging milestones you’d like us to include in this year’s timeline, let our Marketing + Community Manager know at firstname.lastname@example.org
2. If you participated in Hour of Code, Badge List is offering open badges (awesome!)
This week, superbadgers Nate and Serge shared their recent collaboration on a presentation for the Open Education Conference held in Washington, D.C. in November. The session, titled “An API of one’s own: Individual Identities as First-Class Citizens in the Open Badges Infrastructure,” looked at issues of trust, identity and symmetry in the badging ecosystem. They reviewed their presentation and gave the community the opportunity to dive deeper into some questions raised during the presentation.
Badges as currency
Open Badges are “a common portable language about data,” providing information on a skill or knowledge as well as those earning and issuing it. Serge argues that Open Badges are “declarations of trust,” and that this shift in thinking affects both badge system design and how badges are used in particular environments.
Currently, badges are part of what Serge describes as “trust silos,” where an issuer is at the center and trusts numerous earners (see above). This conflicts with the narrative of Open Badges, which states that the earner is at the center of the ecosystem. In that narrative, we have often talked about badges as a “new currency” for skills and knowledge in the 21st century. Serge made the point that it could be said that badges are a visible representation of the oldest currency: trust. By thinking of badges as tokens of trust, we can address those who have concerns about dilution if there are ‘too many badges’ in the ecosystem or in a particular earner’s backpack / portfolio.
To dig deeper into the issues of trust within badging interactions, Nate and Serge examined the three roles performed and the necessary assets to perform those roles:
has to sign up with a platform to create badges, or create JSON assertions themselves;
has the capacity to create more as more badges are earned
needs an email address;
needs a Persona account if they are using the Mozilla Backpack;
might want or need various display options for their badges
needs enough education, understanding and/or familiarity with Open Badges to be able to interpret and distinguish between badges;
needs the necessary time and tools to dig into badges
These three roles are built on very different different technologies, making it difficult to move between roles. Earlier this year, Mark Surman compared the current state of badges with the early days of email: a small number of issuers with huge potential to grow into a global network. The key difference is that all email users use the same tool to send and receive emails, whereas badging still relies on piecing together many different tools with varying functionality.
Nate and Serge posed the question of how to align badges with our philosophy of an earner-centered system, by building these values into the Open Badges Standard and software. Doing this would break down the silos of trust Serge described above and instead create visible chains of trust. There are two proposed models to help build this network: Nate and a team from Concentric Sky, Oregon Center for Digital Learning and the Oregon Badge Alliance are working on a trust ecosystem project,which includes a 3-faceted application for issuers, earners and consumers of open badges.
The initial pilot will focus on 12 programs, including workforce development, conferences, K-12 and out-of-school learning environments. The project will see further development, testing and refining in 2015, but is aimed at enabling connectivity among enterprise issuing platforms and independent services, connecting to other badge-aware services on the web, with software and support for all 3 badging roles, making it easier for users to move between them.
Serge, in a partnership between Discendum Oy, Badge Europe and Europortfolio, is working on an open badges passport that acts as a basic portfolio where anyone can earn and issue badges. This passport can then be built up with endorsements and other trust-building add-ons, as well as a ‘dashboard’ of stats on badges earned, issued, pledged, etc., contributing to the growth of a social network around badges. If everyone used a passport for receiving and issuing badges, Serge argues, it would build a trust network in which the barriers between roles of issuer, earner and consumer are significantly lower.
This week the Badge Alliance team led the live MOOC session, going over highlights from the year. Check out the slide deck above, as well as this overview of Cycle 1 to see a neat infographic of the working groups’ deliverables and other major milestones the badges community hit this year.
Before we kicked off this week’s presentation from Jeff Colombe, we heard from our Directory whizz, Kerri Lemoie, who gave the community some updates from the Directory project. The call attendees raised some great questions about next steps for the Open Badges Directory, including taxonomy, a take-down or ‘opt-out’ mechanism for the registry, and who can add badges. See the full discussion on lines 69-156 in the call notes: http://bit.ly/CC-Dec3
Badges for Talent Management
Jeff Colombe works in the Emerging Technologies Department at the MITRE Corporation, a not-for-profit technology company operating several federally funded research and development centers. MITRE frequently works with various organizations to try to connect technology with whose who can use it best, including other not-for-profits as well as for-profit companies.
Jeff, like many others, saw how badges were being used in education and was interested to see how badges could be used to aid the hiring process in the workplace. Jeff’s project is Skillset, a talent management project undertaken during the last two years at MITRE to match people to project work based on skills, expertise and interests.
There is a “marketplace” for work at MITRE: project managers need to find people to do work, and employees need to find enough work so that they don’t have to bill their vacation hours. Skillset is essentially a MITRE-specific job skills inventory. Employees can fill out a profile of practical and soft skills, working styles, etc., all of which are graded by levels of both expertise and interest. These skills profiles can then be voluntarily verified (endorsed) by a manager, task leader or co-worker. When job roles are listed, they include a list of skills categorized by level and necessity, then employees’ profiles are cross-referenced to show their expertise in those particular skills, allowing for fast connections between those who have the skills and the roles they can fill.
Several factors will affect the long-term success of Skillset, according to Jeff:
Adoption: currently there are only 2 user groups at MITRE that have completed their job profiles; more widespread adoption across the organization is needed to support the project;
Content quality: as the user community continues using the inventory and adding skills to the database, the most desirable and valuable skills will be revealed;
Incorporating Skillset into business practices: there are legal issues related to data privacy and the sharing of information that might present a hurdle to the widespread adoption of the Skillset program;
Merging with other services / platforms: Jeff is exploring the potential uses of Skillset as a plug-in for HR software and a web service to be used globally
At this year’s MozFest, the Badge Alliance was represented by three team members—Carla Casilli led a research-focused session and held office hours throughout the festival weekend, and Sunny Lee and I sat down with a group of attendees to dig into this year’s accomplishments and start to look at areas in need of attention in the coming year.
We used the Cycle 1 Working Groups as a starting point, focusing on each to identify gaps still to be filled in key areas of both the infrastructure that supports Open Badges and the growing ecosystem that expands adoption of badges. Upon our return from MozFest, we brought our notes from this group exercise to the Community Call, inviting attendees to add their thoughts. These conversations helped clarify the most critical issues facing the open badges community as we continue to push this work forward.
Here’s what we found
Employers will be the key to widespread adoption
Workers need jobs. Employers need talent. Badges can help workers showcase their full skill sets and allow employers to identify candidates with the right qualifications and competencies. This has been part of the Open Badges narrative since day one, and as we see increased adoption of badges within education, the next step is to help more employers see the value proposition in using badges to differentiate between job applicants and identify those with the right skill set. Without employer buy-in, badges earned for academic or professional skills cannot have meaning outside of the issuing environment.
Some members of the community indicated that veterans separating from the military will play an increasingly important role in workforce, therefore focusing badge activity and adoption in this area could potentially yield great success—not only for the veterans but also for employers. Continued efforts will be needed to support open badges initiatives aimed at connecting veterans with civilian employment opportunities.
We need to keep pushing for badges in higher education
Badges are steadily gaining a foothold in higher education as a way for instructors to recognize a wider range of skills and achievements than traditional credentials allows - institutions such as UC Davis are using badges as a supplement to traditionally graded programs. Others are pushing the envelope even further, such as Dr. Bernard Bull at Concordia University Wisconsin, who has developed a master’s program in education technology based entirely on competency-based digital badges. Many are still reluctant to integrate badges into their courses; the Campus Policy Framework Document developed by the Policy Working Group will help more institutions find a way to make badges work for them.
Continued collaboration by the community will be increasingly important as more educational bodies and institutions start to explore and adopt badges. The Higher Education Working Group started curating a list of examples of badges in higher education - if you know of more, add them to the list!
Continued research is vital
Building on a quickly developing base of ongoing open badges investigation, the Open Badges Research strives to establish a research base that reports on a variety of open badges aspects. A nice progression from the Research & Badge System Design Calls, now with a stronger emphasis on traditional academic research, this group covers the entire realm of the open badges ecosystem, and actively works to provide the public with meaningful information about open badges.The group’s foundational landscape survey—developed with IRB review and exemption granted from the University of Michigan (thanks Steve Lonn!)—will help badge researchers find future areas of focus. By coalescing, investigating, and funneling research activity into accessible locations, the research community will continue to expand on this meaningful research base that benefits the entire ecosystem.
Global Cities of Learning will bring badges to communities around the world
2014 has truly been a year of global growth for Open Badges. Initiatives such as Badge The UK have continued to raise awareness of badges in the UK; European badging projects have seen increased activity in France, Finland, Serbia, Spain, and Germany; and Down Under, the OBANZ community has formed to support the research, development and adoption of Open Badges in Australia and New Zealand.
The Cities of Learning initiative grew from one summer program in 2013 to six summer and year-round initiatives in 2014. Now that there is increased global badging activity, international cities are starting to investigate the value of using badges to recognize youth activity. Partnerships with local governments and community leaders will be the key to developing an international Cities of Learning movement—the driving force will come from the communities, not from outside influences.
The Open Badges Standard is really important
The Open Badges Standard and technical infrastructure (OBI) are the lynchpins that hold the ecosystem together: their importance can’t be understated, and the community recognizes this. There are several issues that the badges team and community have been working on that are in need of continuing efforts, including:
The Backpack:The community has requested that the Mozilla Backpack receive continued attention to address bugs and find solutions to common problems such as sign-on identities, and to get us closer to backpack federation, which Chris McAvoy has written about extensively. Other backpack options are also starting to emerge - Serge Ravet and Nate Otto will be presenting a peer-to-peer Open Badge Passport at the OpenEd Conference in late November, and Digital Me’s Tim Riches led a brainstorming session at MozFest to gather ideas for a ‘next generation backpack’ maintained by a dedicated team of developers.
The Directory:The Directory Working Group, led by Achievery’s Kerri Lemoie, released an initial prototype of the Open Badges Directory during Cycle 1. There’s still a lot of work ahead for the directory to live up to its full potential, and the group is eager to tackle a number of key focus areas, including: listing badge instances in addition to badge classes; additional API endpoints; and exploring ways to lower the barrier of entry for badge issuers while still clearly articulating the value of open badges. Read more over on Sunny’s blog.
Endorsement:Endorsement will be a game changer in terms of how badges are used, understood, and trusted, because it allows third-party organizations to publicly indicate which badges are aligned with their values and are therefore most meaningful and useful to them, Working closely with the the Standard Working Group, the Endorsement Working Group produced the initial technical implementation proposal to support badge endorsement. The conceptual framework for digital badge endorsement is outlined in the Endorsement Working Group’s seminal working paper. Ongoing technical development for badge endorsement will allow badge adoption to reach a critical tipping point, encouraging the further development of open badges trust networks.
Shareability:The portability of the badge has been an integral part of the narrative since day one, but making that experience more intuitive is something the community is in need of. This includes being able to easily share badges on LinkedIn, as the biggest professional network on the web, as well as easy integration with online résumés and digital portfolios. While the community have found a number of workarounds, collaboration with critical players will be the key to making this a smoother process.
Building technical resources:As an open source project, Open Badges relies on a vibrant community of volunteers to report and fix bugs in Github; encouraging technically-minded folks to get involved will be an ongoing need for the community to address. As other organizations work to build out badging platforms, a connected network of resources will help the ecosystem continue to grow without each newcomer having to start from scratch.
Get involved: be the change you wish to see
We’ve identified a number of important areas for community contribution over the coming months. None of them were particularly surprising; these are issues we’ve been talking about for a while now. We’ve already achieved so much—if you haven’t already checked out the overview of our successes from Cycle 1, do it now—but there is still much more work to be done.
The exciting part is, the work has already begun. No-one has to start from scratch, and there is a thriving community ready to support and collaborate with you. We started this work the same way we’ll accomplish the things we outlined above: as a community.