ODEM and Education Skill Badges

Richard Maaghul
Oct 3, 2018 · 4 min read

Do you have a skill or area of knowledge that you’ve mastered but don’t have a way of proving proficiency to prospective employers, customers or clients?

It could be a second language, tasks you completed as a community volunteer or even an aptitude for paragliding or catering for large groups.

If you have ever played a video game, it’s possible you’ve had a character with increasingly powerful abilities displayed on a skill tree. Players will start with lower level skills that open up new branches or show improvement in already acquired skills as they progress through the game. Depending on how a player decides to grow a skill tree, special abilities or increased access to high-level game content are granted.

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At On-Demand Education Marketplace (ODEM) our Education Skill Badges (ESB) operate on a similar principle.

When students apply “skill-tree” thinking to real life, it’s easier to understand that a skill badge is applicable to competencies and other abilities. Central to the application of ESBs are a few key requirements: 1) Skill badges represent a learned proficiency, 2) they compliment previously learned skills, and 3) they lead to more complex and rewarding opportunities.

At ODEM, we know that learning occurs anywhere and anytime — not just in the classroom — and that individuals should be recognized for both their formal and informal learning achievements.

That’s why we’re excited to develop ESBs, a type of digital badge that will be issued through our blockchain-based ODEM Platform. They’re part of the education portal’s Education Activity Repository and are designed to capture a lifetime of learning, not just the college transcripts and degrees.

We’re not the first company to come up with the idea of educational skill badges. But an important difference in ODEM’s badges compared to other digital insignias available on the internet is that ours are stored and secured with blockchain technology.

Blockchain, or the encryption system that underlays digital currencies, allows for the permanent and unalterable storage of records such as personal credentials. Locking information on our ESBs to the blockchain adds to the traceability of an educational achievement. The Platform does this by creating a cryptographic key and address attached to a student’s Education Activity Repository. This attachment process provides durable and mathematically provable evidence that a certificate was created at the time of an educational event.

Educational Skill Badges also include ODEM procedures to guarantee the accuracy and veracity of a student’s educational achievements. Our verification protocols ensure that employers, for example, will have complete confidence in the validity of a skill recorded on an ODEM Skill Badge.

Education Skill Badges are a way to prove to a potential customer or employer that an individual has done a particular type of work in the past. For the highest levels of assurance, we encourage the inclusion of professional assessors to add a layer of confirmation about the skill being evaluated and the proper issuance of Skill Badges.

For example, suppose an individual speaks French as a second language. An Education Skill Badge for language proficiency would showcase the student’s level of proficiency as verified by a recognized expert in the French language.

Another example of a Skill Badge is the ability to set-up an office WiFi network. To do it correctly, an individual needs to understand the components of the network, such as the router, cables, and peripherals. It also requires an understanding of how to connect all the pieces together so they can communicate and gain internet access.

We’ve designed the badges to be easy-to-issue at an affordable cost to allow for a wider range of documentable skills. Ultimately this will allow for greater insight into actual abilities that traditionally have not been capturable in traditional education systems.

At ODEM, we are building Skill Badges into the ODEM Platform so that students can show their competencies not just for knowledge-based work, but also for their ability to learn and perform complex tasks. One key aspect of Skill Badge design is underpinning the badge metadata with measurable learning actions that can be assessed by an educator.

The ODEM Platform is a tool that adds a layer of transparency and accountability for skill-based classes so that students know what they are getting when they take a course, how learning the new skill can help them find a job, and indelible proof of their competency.

We look forward to updating the community on our progress with Education Skill Badges and showing how ODEM and blockchain technology can help to unleash human potential.

Rich Maaghul,

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