I’ve been blogging a lot about open badges lately. That really means I’ve been thinking a lot about open badges lately, as I use my blog as a sense-making platform.
Through my blogging, combined with the insightful discussions following both Badges of honour and The past tense of open badges, I have been able to consolidate my thoughts somewhat.
This consolidation I
rehash share with you now in the form of my Top 5 benefits of open badges for corporates.
1. Open badges can motivate employees to learn.
Badges are widely perceived as being childish, yet there is no denying that the game mechanics that underpin them can work. Some people are incredibly motivated by badges. Once they’ve earned one, they want to earn another.
You will note that I am using weasel words such as “can” and “some”. This is because badges don’t motivate everyone – just ask Foursquare! But my view is if they motivate a significant proportion of your target audience, then that makes them worthwhile.
I consider this an important point because as learning in the corporate sector becomes more informal, the employee’s motivation to drive their own development will become increasingly pivotal to their performance, and hence to the performance of the organisation as a whole.
2. Open badges can credential in-house training.
Yes, corporates can print off certificates of completion for employees who undertake their in-house training offerings, only for them to be pinned to a workstation or hidden in a drawer.
And yes, corporates typically track and record completion statuses in their LMS, but that lacks visibility for pretty much everyone but the employee him- or herself.
In contrast, open badges are the epitome of visibility. They’re shiny and colourful, the employee can collect them in their online backpack, and they can be shown off via a plugin on a website or blog – or intranet profile.
Badges therefore give corporates the opportunity to recognise the employees who have completed their in-house training, within an enterprise-wide framework.
3. Open badges are portable.
Currently, if you undertake training at one organisation and then leave to join another, you leave your completion records behind. However, if badges were earned through that training, their openness and centralisation in the cloud means that you can continue to “wear” them when you move to your next employer.
This portability of open badges would be enhanced if third parties were also able to endorse the training. So an APRA-endorsed badge earned at Bank A, for example, would be meaningful to my next employer, Bank B, because this bank is also regulated by APRA.
Still, the concept holds without third-party endorsement; that is to say, much of the training provided by Bank A would probably still be meaningful to Bank B – because Bank A and Bank B do very similar things.
4. Open badges are task oriented.
Despite my talk of “training” thus far, open badges are in fact task oriented. That means they recognise the execution of specific actions, and hence the mastery of skills.
I love this aspect of open badges because it means they don’t promise that you can do a particular task, but rather demonstrate that you have already done it.
That gives employers confidence in your capability to perform on the job.
5. Open badges can formally recognise informal learning.
I have argued previously that in the modern workplace, we should informalise learning and formalise assessment.
My rationale is that the vast majority of learning in the workplace is informal anyway. Employees learn in all kinds of ways – from reading a newsfeed or watching a video clip, to playing with new software or chatting with colleagues over lunch.
The question is how to manage all of that learning. The answer is you don’t.
If a particular competency is important to the business, you assess it. Assessment represents the sum of all the learning that the employee has undertaken in relation to that competency, regardless of where, when or how it was done.
I see open badges as micro-assessments of specific tasks. If you execute a task according to the pre-defined criteria (whatever that may be), then you earn its badge. In this way, the badge represents the sum of all the learning that you have undertaken to perform the task successfully, regardless of where, when or how that learning was done.
This is my blog, so of course all of the above assertions are the product of my own opinion. Naturally, I believe it to be an opinion informed by experience.
Other people have different opinions – some concordant, some contrary, as the comments under Badges of honour and The past tense of open badges will attest.
So, I’m curious… what’s your opinion?