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Digital badging at the OU

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The business case for open badges at the Open University: a first look at the impact of badged open courses

Digital badging at the OU

  1. 1. Recognising informal elearning with digital badging: evidence for a sustainable business model Patrina Law, Head of Free Learning The Open University Patrina.Law@open.ac.uk @HigherEdPatrina www.slideshare.net/patrinalaw
  2. 2. Why do we do free learning?
  3. 3. What is ? Comprehensive: Over 900 free courses 1-100 hrs in length. Representative: From introductory to masters. Inspiring: Enriched with inspiring topical videos, interactive games, quizzes, polls and articles. Rewarding: Recognising progress and achievements through personal profiles, certification and digital badging.
  4. 4. 4 Our commitment to ‘open’
  5. 5. How does informal learning begin?
  6. 6. Syndication of free assets
  7. 7. Why is OpenLearn important? 7 Enquirers: 13% of visitor enquire about qualifying with the OU. 39m Total visitors worldwide inspired by free learning from the OU since launch. 4.9m New visitors every year. Social Impact: OpenLearn helps ensures our campus remains truly open, with academic perspectives on important community issues. 0.5m
  8. 8. Our research: who are our informal learners? Research projects in 2013, 2014 and 2015: • Demographic profiling of learners, students and teachers • Understanding how the content serves learners’ needs • Examining how free educational content is influences the progression to formal study • Understanding learners’ challenges and successes • Discovering what learners want and how this is changing • Evaluating the impact of the ‘recognition’ for informal learning
  9. 9. 9 What do our surveys tell us?
  10. 10. What we know about our OpenLearn learners “I can definitely say that I wouldn’t have taken the risk of paying so much to do a degree if I hadn’t been able to test the water through OpenLearn.” “ The free extracts of courses gave me confidence to enroll in my first module…I have also been using them to practice time management. ” “ It's free! I can't afford the costs of university courses since it all went sky high. ” “ I fell into OpenLearn because I was priced out of other studies. ” “ Thank you for providing a resource for people that cannot get to a facility due to physical and/or financial difficulty. Being out of the workforce is hard; it is easy to feel closed off from particular changes. These courses make it possible to keep the mind active, learn and try to stay current…with the advancement of technology. ”
  11. 11. What do informal learners want now? 58% declare improved confidence in their ability to study. 38% are students. 10% enrol: 29% of these are OU students. 80+% want OU-branded recognition for informal learning. Cross (2007) describes informal learning as ‘the unofficial, unscheduled, impromptu way people learn’ but in an environment where ‘...no one assigns grades…’ and ‘...no one takes attendance.’ We have moved from Cross’ anonymous world to one of identified informal learning. Whilst learning is still taking place as a supplement to formal learning there is a growing demand and expectation that informal learners want recognition for their achievements and engagement that can be acknowledged beyond a closed forum of learners.
  12. 12. Why award badges? Image credits: Thornhill School http://thornhillschool.org.uk/current/latest-news/-/post/blue-peter-badges; and Patrina Law. A means to recognise learning, to motivate learners, and to provide evidence of skills and achievements in a variety of formal and informal settings
  13. 13. Digital badges in HE Research tells us that they are used: 1. by educators in MOOCs to reward and motivate learners to participate in a group. 2. by learners to let others know of their mastery usually in closed, online, tutored environments. 3. by universities as a method of encouraging first year students to complete. Awarding of a badge can often be a manual activity.
  14. 14. Badged Open Courses (BOCs) on OpenLearn Require learners to progress at their own pace and not in a cohort, in specially designed courses. Badges are applied to support and motivate learners who, in the informal sector, are often from underserved groups.
  15. 15. Engaging with learners – informal and formal Launched in 2015, Badged Open Courses: 1. Give informal learners the recognition they’ve requested. 2. Give prospective students the skills to be prepared for undergraduate study. 3. Give our current students a means of developing and displaying skills relevant to career progression.  Created using repurposed module content or via current module production  Cheaper to produce than our MOOCs  No tutoring overhead  Badging infrastructure interoperable with open standards
  16. 16. Badge display Mozilla Backpack My OpenLearn Profile Social networks e.g. LinkedIn Printable certificate
  17. 17. BOC assessment framework • Learners need to achieve 50% to pass an assessment • Learners are given three attempts • If they fail on the third attempt, they can retake after 24 hours • Practice assessment is available throughout the course • All pages of the course must have been ‘read’ • Formal assessment takes place halfway and at the end Two successful assessments = 1 badge
  18. 18. The business case for free learning • A showcase for new students • A taster of paid-for content • Confidence building • A taster for studying online and at a distance • For OpenLearn, direct click- through to make an enquiry • Re-using/repurposing course content reduces costs • Improved grades and confidence in students
  19. 19. BOC impact – supporting the business case Initial findings (since March): o 1300 badges issued o The BOCs are generating over 12,000 new visitors a month to OpenLearn o They drive a very high proportion of learners to click-through to make an enquiry to the OU (~28%) o Completion rates of BOCs are higher than our MOOCs o 250 formal module registrations have been made (mostly entry level) o 2000 prospectus requests o Satisfaction rates are very high (~98%) o Surveys have also shown that up to 57% say that they will be sharing their achievements with an employer or prospective employer
  20. 20. BOC impact – qualitative data analysis  BOCs as a motivator and for recognition  71% perceive digital badge and certificate as equally important Responses to ‘What does earning a badge mean to you?’ Source: SurveyMonkey. End of course survey, English skills for learning. “The basic accreditation from these badges adds more value to the work I put in” “Thank you for giving me the confidence to do something I thought I had no intellect to actually do”
  21. 21. BOC impact – qualitative data analysis  BOCs supporting professional development  39-57% will show badge to employer  BOCs as preparedness and driver for study  Promising demographic for undergraduate recruitment in terms of age (younger than OpenLearn overall) and existing qualifications: 7-17% hold undergraduate degree compared to 26% on OpenLearn (MOOCs >70%)  Reasons for studying: Professional development (84%), personal interest (78%), preparation for study (54%)  58% had not taken online course before “a good talking point and something to include on my CV” “Refreshed my maths skills and going on to do the open learn English course, will be applying to do an access course in March”
  22. 22. BOC impact – qualitative data analysis  Identified informal learners are clear about how they like to learn Responses to ‘Please rate how you felt about the different ways of learning on OpenLearn’. Source: SurveyMonkey. End of course survey, Succeed with maths Part 1
  23. 23. BOC impact – reasons for studying… Word cloud source: SurveyMonkey. End of course survey, Succeed with maths Part 1
  24. 24. What employers want e.g. resilience, negotiation, followership, commercial awareness and communication, working in culturally diverse teams Badge metadata enhanced e.g. with level of participation, production of artefact, assessment type, by sector, by industry HEAR / extended transcript Education Design Lab, collaborating employers + collaborating badge providers
  25. 25. Next steps 1. Platform enables rapid feedback for interoperable innovation with the VLE (Moodle) 2. Continue to experiment in the open with digital credentialising and ‘volunteer’ social support 3. Extending curriculum to new postgraduates, plus subject- specific clusters, employability, workplace skills 4. Delivery of BOCs to offender learners (UK and Australia) 5. Working with Centre for Recording Achievement for the UK to recognise Digital Badging in HE. 6. OU BOCs on OU Student Record and HEAR. @HigherEdPatrina www.slideshare.net/patrinalaw
  • OctavioHeredia

    Nov. 4, 2015

The business case for open badges at the Open University: a first look at the impact of badged open courses

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