#ePIC22 conference – Day 2

#ePIC22 Day 1

Day 2 was the day I noticed this helpful poster, which lays out the value of the recognition ecosystem that badges permit. The recognition of individuals and professionals are more likely to be discussed in our higher ed contexts here in BC, and I like that the notion of social capital, human capital and confidence capital were included as part of individual benefits. Less discussed here in BC are the bottom two: communities and regions/provinces. The inclusion of these as part of the badge ecosystem offers some interesting avenues for discussion and dreaming, and Day 2 would offer some tangible examples of those.

Day 2 started with some research sessions, and one that stuck with me was a presentation by Sebastien Rollin, whose research highlighted the potential of using badges to recognise transversal competencies in higher education, which he helpfully framed as “hidden curriculum”. At the same time, the research showed that the biggest uptake was with high performing students, resulting in a risk of “privileging the privileged”.  I think this is an important message, given that this was also the case with MOOCs and is currently a question being asked about microcredentials.  Ultimately, who are badges for and what problem do they solve?   

The next few presentations were clear examples of badges solving a problem.

  1. First up was Stella Porto from the International Development bank describing a community based badge project called HydroBID. This was clearly a case of badges being built with the HydroBID community, in a context where various levels of contributions are taking place in the community. The goal of the badge was to provide a way for community to recognize itself and the range of various individual contributions. Importantly, the badge wasn’t there to rank, rather everyone gets the same badge through telling their own story of contribution, which may take many forms.

The process to get the badge involves reviewers who assess the evidence that individuals have uploaded upon applying for a badge.

2. Alissa Bigelow and Lyndsay Woodside from e-campus Ontario described the Ontario Extend set of badges that lead to a micro credential that then pathway to a program at Conestoga College. This was a helpful and tangible example of all 3 functioning as a group – badges, MCs and recognition.

3. HPass, a skills platform for humanitarians, with over 24k users earning badges from 30 different organizations. This was a helpful example of badging and recognition at both a sector and global level and presumably with 24k users is having tangible impact. HPass is being used by organizations to:

  • recognize knowledge (badging courses)
  • recognize participation (and counting towards a professional certification
  • recognize behaviour
  • recognize action

While Day 2 provided lots of examples of badges in use, there were two notable presentation that focussed on recognition. First, the keynote by Nan Travers about Credentials as You Go, who similar to CLOCK from Day 1, began with a compelling case as to why we should care about recognition as a means to address the large numbers of people who never finish formal higher education, representing an invisible population of some higher ed, but no credential. She challenged us to think about both our communities and structures in terms of who they are leaving out and highlighted that there are people with and without power in any of these systems (a concern that I share anytime we romanticise community as a way of addressing power and gatekeeping). Credentials as You Go is trying to address both external and prior learning, informal and formal, incrementally awarded upon validation. This is highly appealing to those of us working in access-oriented institutions attracting more marginalized or adult learners.

And for those of us who stuck around to the end of a very full day, we were treated to a mind stretching presentation by Susan Forseille on decolonizing PLAR in a BC context. I was curious how this topic would land in a European context and to be fair, there was a parallel stream of presentations running in French at the same time. Nonetheless, I got the sense there was a lot of interest in the project that Susan described, where Indigenous knowledge was honoured and PLAR’ed through a guided process of storytelling. This mirrored a message that seemed to be present throughout the conference of the importance of having the agency and empowerment to control one’s narrative or learning story, of being able to tell it in a way that can be counted or validated, and the importance of listening and creating room for these narratives in our systems.

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