So i decided to enroll in this MOOC on Open Badges. I mean, i do have some experience with the thing, and we issue badges on an increasingly regular basis, but i thought, why not, it can be useful.
We are still in the beginning of the MOOC (scheduled to run for 6 months). Already I can see benefits.
First off the approach was to include my personal interest and life story. To begin we were all asked to badge our life experiences. Suddenly, and with such a simple device, the concept broadened and became more interesting.
Next up was a webinar with representatives from various companies using badges. Working as I do in non-formal adult education it was interesting to hear other views on learning and competence-building. As a follow-up we were then asked to identify three companies using badges, and analyse them. Having canvassed the net for a while, and then asked in a Badge-related Facebook group i found them
- Kesko is a large national food supply chain. They have their own academy for their many employees, called K-akatemia. Within this educational provision they are currently offering a total of 5 different badges, dealing with cyber security, good sellmanship, and being a K-chain employee. More: http://www.kesko.fi/koulutus/ohjeita-opiskelijalle/open-badges/
- IlonaIT is an IT-company specializing in providing solutions and platforms for education. Adobe Connect is their flagship product in Finland, but they are also offering a lot of other things. IlonaIT uses badges to reward participation, but also within their training offers, for example in OBF (Open Badge Factory), Adobe Connect, Mobiilitotaali, Gafe.
- Rastor is a private education provider, targeting primarily companies with competence development schemes and consultancy. However, in spite of my best efforts i did not manage to each anyone at Rastor that could help me or tell me how they were working with badges. It was also not possible to find anything useful on their web pages.
In general it seems to me the companies using badges are not very forthcoming in terms of using this in marketing or even to provide easy to find information. It could be because their usage is low, or it could be that they have simply not thought about it. Apart from Kesko the two other examples i found were IT-related, so it might be their interest comes from working in the field. Personally i think the most benefit would come from having SMEs in sectors other than IT discover and put badges to good use.
The companies I did locate used badges either to encourage learning of their staff (Kesko) or to encourage general participation (IlonaIT). An additional aspect we were asked to investigate was quality aspects in relation to Open Badges within these companies. I could not find anything written on this, so this is my speculation: The badges Kesko awards are just a few, and they are for quite specific things. Keeping the number of badges low and their use very targeted is one way of ensuring that the badges do represent a real value. At the same time they are not utilizing the full potential of creating learning pathways and increasing potential learner/employee interest to improve themselves. My conclusion is that they really should make a badge ecosystem, and widen their scope to reach within their whole organisation.
IlonaIT offers badges as a way to easily encourage participation on trainings or online events. This creates a positive buzz around the company, and might make them stand out in a crowd. However, for that to happen i think they must make their badge commitment much clearer and stated.
And that concludes my analysis of badge usage in some companies in Finland.
Please feel free to share this, contact me and/or correct any errors in this text!