Thursday, March 20, 2014

Learners Were Always Feral

Greetings from the Australian National University in Canberra, where Joyce Seitzinger is speaking at "Have learners gone feral?". This is part of an open badges research project, funded by the Office of Learning and Teaching. The idea of digital badges are a form of lightweight digital educational certificate. A student might get a badge for a small amount of educational achievement, such as a few hours study. This is different to, for example, my Graduate Certificate in Higher Education (which required six months study).

While I understand how this might apply to schools and vocational education (where competencies are divided into very small components), but it is not clear how it would apply to universities. After getting a GCHE, I went along to the CIT to obtain the vocational equivalent. Whereas the university made me do all the classes and assessment, the vocational institution accepted evidence of my having already achieved most of the skills, by experience as well as in formal classes. When I had ticked off all the requirements (like collecting badges) my Cert IV in Training and Assessment was awarded. It seems to me that education has always been mostly an informal process in the real word, it just just that universities are the last to admit this. 

 It seems to me that the major issue for open badges at universities is the lack of openness in the forms of education and assessment used. If programs and assessment are open then badges would be easy to implement. The area for research should be how to have traditional universities accept these badges. This will require showing the universities how they can make money out of the badges.

ps: many years ago I visited a research centre in Cambridge which developed the Active Badge System.

Event Details

Have learners gone feral? Accessing and accrediting learning at the edges of educational space

Learners have been teaching themselves for many centuries. However in our highly connected time learning practices have truly gone feral. Twitter drips out 140 character learning bites around the clock. Google Scholar gives you, on demand, as many resources as you need. Scoop.It lets you connect with experts in your field who are curating the best and most recent information on any topic you are interested in. Don’t know how to make that widget? Search YouTube or, better yet, join a maker community.

According to Pew Research the age of ‘binge learning’ in linear courses might be coming to an end: we can now all “graze on information” anytime, anywhere. So how are people organising these platforms and information streams to maximize their learning? Is it possible, or desirable, for formal higher education providers to engage with these independent learners and add value?
More importantly, if learning is feral and happening everywhere, how can we assess and accredit the learning that is happening in existing higher education settings, but not as part of formal course work? A conventional degree testamur is a ‘mute’ object that actually tells us very little about the richness of the learning that is taking place, especially around the edges of formal coursework. It looks like Mozilla’s Open Badges may be an important piece of the puzzle, a way of making learning more legible to others, and to the learner themselves.
In this lecture Joyce Seitzinger will discuss the concept and potential of Mozilla’s Open Badges movement against the background of these feral learning practices and sketches out what this new development might mean for our universities.
Joyce Seitzinger has worked in eLearning for 15 years, including 8 years in higher education in New Zealand and Australia. Since 2007 she has become a strong advocate of networked learning in education and organisational learning. Her consulting service Academic Tribe helps individuals and organisations build networked communities and practices in education that suit lifelong learning needs in the 21st century. Joyce is one of the founders of the newly established OBANZ (Open Badges Australia and New Zealand) community. She is an active Twitterer, follow her at to see what she’s working on.
Refreshments will be provided.
This project is funded through an Office of Learning and Teaching seed grant.

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