Open Badges for 2015

We have now issued our open badge HCUK Employability Seals for 2014-15 –  we have issued:

Employability Skills Seal Gold badge-01 Employability Skills Seal Gold badge-03 Employability Skills Seal Gold badge-03
485 Gold 307 Silver 327 Bronze

We hope next year to implement some form of ePortfolio to help students record and display the evidence that sits behind these open badges.

Final Report

Our official JISC Advance FE and Skills project is now finished and you can find the final report here.

We will continue to post to this blog to let you know how our work in this area progresses and whether we are successful in increasing the uptake of our open badges this year.

JISC Open Badge Design Toolkit: Good for Planning & Evaluation

To design our badges, we used the JISC Open Badge Design Toolkit – jiscopenbadgesdesigntoolkit. Our advice to those embarking on future Open Badge projects would be to use the JISC toolkit not only for initial planning but to revisit regularly during the project to evaluate progress and ensure effective management of the more complex aspects .

The toolkit was initially useful as a starting point for the project planning team, and enabled us to identify areas where we needed to make decisions and those which were already predetermined e.g.:

  • Badge content (converted from our paper-based Progression Passport)
  • Brand Design (delegated to our Marketing department as the badge was intended to be used externally). The badges we devised were in line with college branding and were circular to tie in with the Seal/Medal concept of Bronze, Silver and Gold. The designs were the same except for colour and wording to give them a unified look and increase the motivation to try and move up the levels. Font was a particular issue as the badge needed to be small but display text clearly and several iterations were needed to get this right.

Whilst the JISC toolkit was useful at the start of our project, our limited knowledge and overemphasis on the technical aspects meant we did not utilise it as fully as we could have done. Where it has been particularly valuable has been as a framework for evaluating our project and identifying areas for further improvement .
One of these has been to consider more fully Why? we were issuing the badges and the Channels where a user would find out about the badge(as part of evaluating our Badge System & Content Design) and this has led us to put a student briefing in place before the badges are issued to explain their value and purpose.
Another was the consideration of the Behaviours the badge is designed to encouraged (part of the Badge Content Design template) and this will be picked up as part of the on-going review of the HCUK Passport as a whole. This review will also picked up on endorsement of the Seal as part of further developments in partnership with our local LEP.
Technically, evaluation using the JISC Open Badge Design Toolkit has raised issued about the systems we use and the sustainability and rigour of our process such as:
• The need to monitor new opportunities for display Open Badges online
• The possibility of automating issue of our badges through Moodle
• The debate over the use of personal or college email addresses to issue the badges
• The ability to store online evidence as part of the HCUK Passport and link between our Pro-Monitor and Moodle systems.

We will continue to post about how we respond to these challenges as our project continues!

Views of staff and students on the HCUK Progression Passport and Employability Seal

Here are some views we collected on the impact of the HCUK Progression Passport and the inclusion on Open Badges: “I feel proud that I was among a few students that achieved the gold employability seal, as it makes me more employable than someone else who hasn’t achieved it. Employers will see that I have gone that extra mile to make me stand out from the crowd. I have learnt a lot from doing the many activities that we had to do e.g. how to write a good CV, what employers look for in interviews and on CVs.” (Hair & Beauty Student) “Proud to be awarded the Gold Employability Seal because it makes me more employable and it lets other employers know that I am reliable and hard working. It also shows employers I am a good team player/team leader and have excellent communication skills. It wasn’t hard to achieve, I just made sure that I attended college every day and carried out/got involved in extra activities and workshops that we were encouraged to go to”. (Hair & Beauty Student) “I worked with Level 2 students on their passports. The idea is fantastic but what is needed is coherent, meaningful evidence. Tracking what the students did was not difficult but I felt it needed more depth/description. The students were also rather passive – I wanted them to find things to do but they were very reluctant to do that!” (IT Tutor) “I see the benefit is huge and would not like to be without them in the college. Only a small number of my students last year embraced the passport but they got the seal they deserved. The others found it too complicated, too many items on it and they are not always clear. This means the students are not clear about it enough to be fully motivated, even with me pushing it positively. I feel it should all be online as they forgot to bring diaries into class to sign off evidence.” (Beauty Therapy tutor) “I see the benefit is huge but think there are perhaps too many items on it and they are not always clear, especially from a student perspective. This means they are not clear about it enough to be fully motivated, even with me pushing it positively. I feel it should all be online and something the student should be able to evidence with assistance in making things happen, as opposed to us often making things happen for them“. (Student Coach)

  • Can it be changed to include authorised attendances?
  • Don’t know where it is/haven’t opened it since I got it, only the student coaches go on about it.
  • I see the benefits of it (passport and seal) and it is nice that the college is doing something extra and free to support us (Health, Social Care & Applied Science students)

Employer survey results

We received 8 responses to our employer survey– of these 75% were already aware of the HCUK Employability Seal, although all consider it to be useful it was explained to them. None of the were aware of Open Badges prior to the project but 75% said they looked on websites/social media for more information about job applicants, which 2 naming LinkedIn, 1 Twitter and 2 other websites.

Open Badges: Reflections of an Employer

Open Badges: an Employers viewpoint

Through being part of this project,  I have learned what an Open Badge is and am able to see its potential to support employers in identifying students with appropriate employability skills whilst maintaining the integrity and appropriate security in an online environment. Employers regularly search social media for more information on applicants and these badges could also be flagged through blogs, websites and online CVs.

During the last year, the HCUK Progression Passport has continued to evolve and work has been done, in consultation with employers, to further define the skills sets, project work, work experience, participation in volunteering etc. to embed a framework of demonstrable skills. The Employability Skills Open Badge provides an online representation of the skills they have developed and their level of work readiness. I think the Open Badge aspect will continue to support the HCUK Passport by allowing students to more easily display their Seal through online media and this could support the embedding of the HCUK Employability Seal within recruitment and on the job assessment in the local business community. It would be useful to see the College offer other Open Badges for example badge students who have acquired specific skills.

As awareness of  Open Badge increases within society as a whole, this will assist in promoting the HCUK Passport model through the technology’s connectivity with social media channels. As Open Badges become more widely used, students will be able to use them to display to employers a collection of badges showing educational attainment from a range of different institutions plus achievements through other organisations such as volunteering awards. It would be particularly useful if job-specific websites, develop the ability to allow applicants to link to their Open Badges in their profile and also if it were possible for employers to search a website that could list students with particular badges and allow a contact email to be sent encouraging them to apply for vacancies.

Donna Edgar – Sental Recruitment Ltd
Aside from being the Director of a very successful recruitment business, Donna also gives her time for free to For Entrepreneurs Only (FEO) by offering advice and guidance to new and established companies looking to expand. Donna is also a previous Governor for The Hull College Group which looks after over 31000 students across the UK