Monday, January 21, 2013

Agile Learning and OpenBadges

I spend a lot of my personal time deepening my understanding of self-directed learning and its direct application. I'd rather walk-the-walk than talk-the-talk... and pedagogically you learn much more by walking-the-walk. Over the last eight months I have focused a lot of my learning on badge systems as a method for recognizing learning and achievement, and as an alternative method of accreditation. I have been exploring, what I consider, the four different approaches to badge systems and have utilized my Agile Learning Design (ALD) approach to direct my learning. Over the last eight months I have learned a considerable amount about this subject. And given there is yet to be a person or school that focuses on teaching about badges systems I really didn't have a choice but do it myself.

During the envisioning step of the ALD methodology you focus on a creative effort which defines what you know of a subject domain. Even if what you know starts with a single word or just the name of the subject you can still start exploring the subject and build a creative effort that defines your current knowing of the subject. With open badges I was able to read a few of the sites dedicated resources and was able to put together a concept map, and this really got me started and allowed me to set a direction for my learning.

My first concept map capturing my early understanding of open badges.

During the middle six months of 2012 I immersed myself in learning about digital badges and open badges. I wrote extensively and participated in many online events and created many online resources. All of this deepened my learning. The ALD approach helped focus my learning and assisted in identifying gaps in my knowledge. I followed an iterative learning approach and studied concepts as identified in my concept map and as they became apparent through my reading, investigation and peer feedback. My learning journey occurred as follows;

The first few steps of my learning journey were planning my approach and setting the context and learner perspective. The importance of this is described in the planning step of ALD.
  • Context and User Roles: This step was really important for setting the context and learner roles to define how I was looking at the learning I was about to embark upon. It really helped me understand who the learner was, and to what depth and direction I was to take my learning.
  • Learning Themes: What did I want to get out of my learning and how would I anchor my learning.
My next step in deepening my understanding was to build learning resources. These resources covered many of the topics I had identified in my concept map and during my planning. Each resource I created added depth to my understanding of open badges.
Once the first iteration build of my learning resources was complete I sought feedback by having others use the resources. In truth, I was continually asking for feedback. As soon as a resource was built I would publish it to the internet and seek input. All very iterative, all very lean. As you can see the above resources were all published at different times and as I published I would engage my learning community and ask for input. With some resources the feedback would initiate a change for others the resource remained the same, sometimes the change would come as how the new resource was hosted or the context around the learning was changed.

The final step within this iteration of learning was to deploy the final versions of the learning resources. I chose to wrap the video resources in popcorn.js and to build a small portal to organize all the resources. This allowed further enhancement to the resources by focusing in on key learnings and also providing a listing of the embedded URL's as follow on learning resources. To view this portal visit the dedicated Bowen Institute of Technology website;

I feel I learned a lot over the last nine months regarding digital badges and open badges. The next steps to deepen and continue my learning will be;
  1. to assist others who are learning about digital badges, mostly through the following activities;
    • facilitate online workshops whenever possible
    • continue building out P2Pu School of Badges
    • answer questions regardless of where they come from
    • continue to engage the community as time permits
  2. to loop around back to the start of the ALD where I revisit my learning themes and do another deep dive into my concept map.
  3. to Plan, Build, Stabalize and Deploy another iteration of learning resources
The purpose of these activities is to celebrate all I have learned so far, expose the gaps in my knowledge regarding digital badges and open badges, create more resources for others to learn from, and refocus my learning. All good.