Books as Open Online Content #BOOC

In the past 10 years as a learning technologist or eLearning consultant, I’ve come across many new ideas, concepts, techniques, technologies, methods, cultures, etc. I’ve learned about open source software and open badges and open access journals, and open courses. Now I’ve just learned about open books, specifically BOOCs (Books as Open Online Content).

What is a BOOC?

“These innovative ‘living books’ feature articles of various types, in a non-linear thematic presentation that offers readers the option to select and sort subjects they wish to read. With long and short articles, blogs, videos, audio and Storifys, these ‘books’ grow over a period of time.” UCL Press.


Books as innovative 'living' books? Yes, really! Read more from @hopkinsdavid #learning
Click To Tweet


How I see the BOOC is that it’s a free ebook, but not something for your Kindle or Kobo or eReader. This is a browser based resource that can be text, image, video or audio based (ideally a mix of all of them?) that can build and expand as the authors continue to research and write. The platform that UCL has built is really good, for the explanation of BOOCs, that enables the content to the flagged/tagged under one of four headings, each displayed graphically using different colours (as below). The content is capable of being in more than one ‘category’ so you can read this BOOC from the perspective of ‘libraries’, ‘publishing’, ‘bookselling’, or ‘academic’.

There are many instances where, when wanting to read and learn about something, the most up to date and highly respected book is still out of date. For example, any reference book or ‘how-to’ book is out of date as soon as the author has written it. Then you add the lead time, production and publication time to the equation, and the latest ‘best’ book on the subject could be as much as a year out of date. Anything I want to read about my own interests (learning technology, social media, etc.) falls into this category. To get around this I read mostly blogs and long articles I find and am pointed to by friends on Twitter. This does not mean I get the whole picture, just one view.

A BOOC (researched, references, and peer-reviewed) would help me here? Yes, it’ll still take time to write and review all the content, but it can be ‘released’ in chunks / sections as they become available, enabling the information to be read and used, the authors can get valuable feedback and keep previously released material up to date while progressing the rest. I’m sure it’d be a huge production to do something like this, but exciting none the less? 

I like this. I’m sure there are some WordPress themes that could also handle something similar, along with a clever developer, if not a dedicated website template.

“BOOC is not the answer to the question, ‘What will the academic book of the future be?’ – and it doesn’t claim to be. It is, however, the tangible result of a great deal of consultation, discussion, innovation, and perseverance. It represents some of the issues – contentious, complicated, deep-rooted, emerging, and provocative – that confront everyone who engages with academic publication.” Dr. Rayner.

What do you think? Is this a route you’d use for your own academic authoring and publishing? Would you read a ‘book’ like this, knowing it’s (a) not complete, but (b) kept up to date and features  feedback and changes in the subject / topics?

Image source: modified from Brian Smithson (CC BY 2.0)

Open Badges – die unterbeleuchtete Seite von Open Education

Wenn es um Open Education geht, stehen die Lehr- und Lernmaterialien (Open Educational Resources, OER) klar im Vordergrund. Open Badges oder “digitale Kompetenzabzeichen”, wie Ilona Buchem von der Beuth Hochschule für Technik in Berlin sie in diesem Video nennt, stehen noch etwas im Abseits. Potenzial, z.B. als digitale CVs oder ePortfolios, wird ihnen gerne bescheinigt. Was fehlt, ist Aufmerksamkeit und eine breitere Diskussion über ihren Sinn und Nutzen. Manchmal denke ich, dass eine solche Infrastruktur vor allem zukünftigen Programmen bzw. Algorithmen hilft, automatisiert Profile und Lebensläufe auszulesen. Aber das wäre vielleicht schon Teil der Diskussion …
OERinfo - Informationsstelle OER,  YouTube, 1. Mai 2017

Open Badges for Open Education

Open Badges, so Ilona Buchem (Beuth Hochschule für Technik Berlin), stehen in der Diskussion um Open Education häufig im Hintergrund. Die Aufmerksamkeit gehört vor allem offenen Lehr-/ Lernmaterialien (Open Educational Resources/ OER) und offenen Online-Kursen (Massive Open Online Courses/ MOOCs). Deshalb hat sie auf der Open Education Global Conference 2017, die gerade in Kapstadt stattgefunden hat, noch einmal für Open Badges geworben.

Ihr Foliensatz gibt einen guten und aktuellen Überblick. Er reicht von der Definition (”Open Badges = visual representations of a skill or achievement”) über ihre Funktionsweise (Metadaten, Infrastruktur, Typen, Taxonomie) bis zu konkreten Einsatzszenarien und Beispielen. Für Einsteiger und Fortgeschrittene.
Ilona Buchem, Mediendidaktik 2.0, 14. März 2017

3 things we need for the next big frontier in Open Badges and digital credentials

Bei Open Badges reden wir ja nicht nur von “online representations of a skill you’ve earned”. Sondern es geht um ein System, eine Infrastruktur, eine Währung, mit der Nutzer glaubhaft versichern können, dass sie wirklich einen bestimmten Skill erworben haben. Hier setzt Doug Belshaw, “Open Educational Thinkerer” aus Northumberland/ England und vielleicht der “Open Badge”-Experte, an und zählt drei Aufgaben auf, mit denen sich die “Open Badge”-Bewegung beschäftigen sollte: “progression pathways”, “granular permissions” und “long-term storage”.

“As an educator, I think the great thing about Open Badges is that they are packaged-up ‘chunks’ of identity that can be put together like Lego bricks to tell the story of who a person is, and what they can do. The trouble is that we’re used to thinking in silos, so people’s (understandable) immediate reaction is “can I put my badges on LinkedIn/Facebook/somewhere else I already have an account”. While the short answer is, of course, “YES!” there’s a longer, more nuanced answer.”
Doug Belshaw, Open Educational Thinkering, 10. Oktober 2016

Open Badges in HE

An unfortunate clash in my calendar meant I wasn’t able to attend this wonderful event today, but it hasn’t stopped me joining in and being a Twitter-pest with my comments.

You’ll be needing Doug Belshaw’s excellent slide deck for this:

Open Badges in Higher Education from Doug Belshaw

Open Badges in Higher Education from Doug Belshaw

I know some are against badges, I know some are in favour. I prefer to think of them as the extra-curricular ‘award’ for students to be able to showcase more than just subject knowledge they’ve been able to regurgitate in an exam (something I was always really bad at).

I don’t believe there is merit in a two to three hour stressful exam scenario. Some students do well here, others do not. I would liked to have had the opportunity to produce more appropriate projects, like I do for work, where I had a role to play, sometimes many roles, in order to organise myself and others, collect and collate resources and knowledge, prioritise these resources and manage outcomes. Not to mention the presentation of the project, either digitally or in-person, and the ability to discuss the project and how I/we worked to get this end result. Here I see where badges can showcase individual achievement, aligned to the formal assessment criteria maybe, but giving the ability to showcase my skills, not just knowledge.

Also present and presenting is Anne Hole from University of Sussex, highlighting more experiences in implementing open badges for both CPD (100 Days of Twitter and TEL). I especially like the badges offered to staff for their engagement in the ‘Take 5’ short courses.

Exploring Open Badges in HE by Anne Hole

Exploring Open Badges in HE from Anne Hole

Also shared during the day was this excellent post from Carla Casilli: Open Badge Opticks : The prismatic value of badges. Go read it.

Many of the tweets I engaged with during the event centred around the same questions we’ve been asking/answering for a few years now:

  • Where is the value in open badges?
  • Who gets to decide the value of the badge, and who gets to issue them?
  • How many badges are too many (either in badges issued or badges collected)?
  • Do employers recognise/value badges?
  • Can/should formal assessment be badged?

and many more. Many questions (still), many different answers (still), all depending on the perspective you’re coming from, and why. I’ll leave you with this great graphic from Doug’s slidedeck – open badges give the recipient (note: not just students!) the opportunity to demonstrate and display proof of the acquisition :

We really do need a new name for 'soft skills' - these are what *really* matter in the workplace! #OpenBadgesHE

image source: Alan Levine (CC BY 2.0)

Why do we hire based on ‘experience’? HR, Automattic, and Open Badges

Was sagen eigentlich noch “Lebensläufe”, “Qualifikationen” und “Erfahrungen” über die Kompetenzen eines Kandidaten aus? Wenig, meint Doug Belshaw. In vielen Bereichen stellen Open Badges, jene digitalen Abzeichen für erworbene Fähigkeiten und Fertigkeiten, bessere, weil feinere Filter dar. “Granularity”, “evidence” und “portability” zählt er als Pluspunkte auf. Mag sein. In jedem Fall werden Netzprofile (LinkedIn, Xing, Blogs) mehr und mehr zu Ausgangspunkten auf dem Jobmarkt. Und ein Baustein dieser Präsenzen könnten auch Open Badges sein.
Doug Belshaw, Medium, 25. Februar 2016

Reading: Open Badge’s and MOOCs #openbadges

Badges continue to interest me, and the development of open badges in online courses and commercial/corporate settings seems to be gaining momentum?

However, the bottom line is that conditions have changed (i.e. progressive mobility worldwide, as well as the increasing need for recognition of migrants’ qualifications). While some authors warn about the risky “inflation of educational credentials” others go even further claiming that “The university has already lost any claim to monopoly over the provision of higher education” (Duke, 1999). The initiatives described here are still in an embryonic stage but at the same time are promising in terms of new possibilities for more flexible tools and, as @daveowhite suggests, they provide new currencies that can redesigning the economy of talent (find more in UNESCO UIL or the EU ESCO).

As I always say, badges will not be suitable for everyone, nor every situation or course, or learning journey(s). But they do have a place in demonstrating acquisition of skills, in a carefully implemented and designed environment, for a specific and define purpose. Whether the display of the badge itself is part of the reason we strive to earn it is part of the value associated with the badge and is something for others to argue (but I am keenly interested in the outcome and arguments).

Image source: Alan Levine (CC BY 2.0)

Open Badges. Competency Credentials For A Digital World

Dieser Artikel “wirbt” auch für die Schnittstelle zwischen dem Totara Learning Management System und Mozillas Open Badges Infrastructure. Aber er ist vor allem ein Überblick über das Thema “Badges”, jener digitalen Abzeichen, die uns heute auf vielen Lernplattformen begegnen. Im Artikel ist sogar die Rede von 14.000 Organisationen, die bereits mit Badges arbeiten. Aber da gehören sicher vor allem “plattform-immanente” Abzeichen dazu, die Lernende nicht mal eben auf ihre eigene Profilseite stellen können. “Digital Badges” halt und nicht “Open Badges” (was auch im Artikel nicht immer getrennt wird). Als “Use Cases” für Badges halten die Autoren jedenfalls fest:

1. Credentialling Non-Traditional Pathways, 2. Micro-Credentialling, 3. Professional Development, 4. Transparency, 5. Streamline Credentialling Process and Improving Efficiency, 6. More Learner Control
Totara Learning Solutions, Mai 2015 (pdf)

The three biggest (perceived) problems with Open Badges

Doug Belshaw ist einer der führenden Experten und Fürsprecher in Sachen Open Badges. Hier geht er auf drei Einwände ein, die ihm in der Diskussion immer wieder begegnen: 1. Wert/ Nutzen von Open Badges, 2. Motivation der Lernenden, 3. Qualität von Open Badges. Zum letzten Punkt schreibt er treffend: “However, the issue that I often bump up against is that ‘quality’ is defined in such a way as to (in effect) describe the status quo.”
Doug Belshaw, Blog, 16. April 2015

Here’s What Will Truly Change Higher Education: Online Degrees That Are Seen as Official

Was MOOCs bis heute fehlt, sind Abschlüsse, mit denen Teilnehmer auf dem Arbeitsmarkt etwas anfangen können. Okay, jetzt könnte man auf die Certificates hinweisen, die Coursera, Udacity und edX in den letzten Monaten entwickelt haben. Aber das ist, so der Autor, erst die halbe Miete. Interessanter sind Entwicklungen wie Open Badges. Sie können am Monopol der Colleges auf Abschlüsse und Zeugnisse rütteln. Eingebettet in eine entsprechende digitale Infrastruktur können sie weit mehr Informationen über Lernprozesse transportieren als traditionelle Diplome. Und ihre Besitzer könnten diese Informationen, je nach Anlass, individuell steuern.

“In the long run, MOOCs will most likely be seen as a crucial step forward in the reformation of higher education. But their true impact won’t be felt until students and learners of all kinds have access to digital credentials that are also built for the modern world. Then they’ll be able to acquire skills and get jobs for a fraction of what colleges cost today.”
Kevin Carey, New York Times, 5. März 2015