Alternative assessment using digital credentials

Photo CC BY Doug Belshaw

At a recent Digitalme event entitled Digital Credentials for Employment: Bridging the Gap, we noticed three distinct themes emerging amongst speakers and participants. Digital credentials, powered by Open Badges, seem to be particularly useful for:

  • Quantifying potential
  • Alternative assessment
  • Fixing recruitment

This second post in the series focuses on the ways in which digital credentials allow for alternative assessment.

The early days of any new technology often brings with it big claims about how it will ‘disrupt’ the existing status quo. Take, for example, the hyperbolic statements made around MOOCs as signalling the death knell for universities. Similar claims are currently being made around blockchain technologies — that they will somehow miraculously solve all of our problems.

What usually happens in practice, of course, is that technological advances mesh with existing good practices to enhance and extend them. Digital credentials are a good example of this. The early days of Open Badges were full of pronouncements about the “end of degrees” and a utopia where CVs and job applications were no longer required.

Instead, as one would expect, digital credentials based on Open Badges technology have been particularly attractive to existing issuers of qualifications. Awarding organisations, membership bodies, and formal education institutions (such as schools, colleges, and universities) have either adopted, or are experimenting with, ways in which they can digitise the credentials they issue.

Image CC BY-ND Bryan Mathers

There is more to Open Badges than simply digitising existing certificates. In fact, a good way to think about issuing digital credentials is to think about things the other way around: a certificate is just a printed-out, offline badge, stripped of it’s valuable metadata!

All of this brings us to assessment. When individuals and organisations have new and better ways to credential knowledge, skills, and behaviours, it opens up the ability for them to assess learning differently. For example, instead of one, single, high-stakes examination, digital credentials based on Open Badges technology can be used to evidence learning on a much more granular level.

As well as expert assessment, digital credentials are well-suited for peer assessment, for project-based learning, and even for self-assessment! The metadata pointing to the evidence of learning is key.

If you are interested in issuing your own digital credentials why not check out the Open Badge Academy.

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