Open Badges for Training and Development

Chromatrope have undertaken a large scale piece of innovation strategy work for the BBC Academy. The Academy is the department within the BBC responsible for creating staff learning and development training across the organisation, and includes everything from mandatory training for all staff, journalism, creativity, TV and radio craft skills as well as administering the BBC’s trainee and apprenticeship schemes. We wrote a blog post some time back about our interim work, but now have more to share on the project.

1: Open badge displays in Mozilla Backpack
1: Open badge displays in Mozilla Backpack

Our brief has been to create and apply an innovation strategy, to investigate how online training and development could be realised in new and different ways. Our strategic consultation has covered a pretty wide range, and where we can, we’re documenting here some of the more tactical development projects that have resulted from the work.

Open badges for learning and development was one such pilot. The initial proposal grew out of an understanding that there was a requirement for a mechanism that could help BBC staff and freelancers to record and maintain a record of their formal training within the organisation. In addition we felt it was important that the mechanism allowed users to capture their ‘informal’ and skills based learning.

Mozilla’s Open Badges project appeared to be one way for us to offer a means for the BBC to issue badges that could then be used by BBC staff as well as potentially the BBC’s audiences to record and share their skills, training and development achievements and work related learning.

2: Production case study badge shows issuer and criteria for earning badge
2: Production case study badge shows issuer and criteria for earning badge

Chromatrope worked with Mozilla and with stakeholders within the BBC to design and implement a series of pilot open badges from the BBC as issuer. These badges would initially recognise a user’s engagement with the ’TV Production Case Study’. To earn this badge users needed to watch and engage with a series of BBC curated films that outlined key roles in a specialist factual TV series including series producer and production manager. By doing this they could earn and display a badge which explicitly recognised their ‘understanding the essential roles in a series such as Crimewatch’.

3: Badges formed into collections for sharing via social media
3: Badges formed into collections for sharing via social media

During the discovery phase of the project we worked with a number of stakeholders to understand the editorial and technical requirements and constraints of the project. We attended Mozfest, the international gathering of Mozilla supporters and activists, where we ran a ‘Beta Badging the BBC’ workshop. Mozfest was a fantastic way for us to have face to face conversations with the creators and remixers of the technology that the BBC’s badge pilots would be using. The badge design and build itself was a straightforward process, made even simpler now that Mozilla has made it’s BadgeKit available.

4: User can supplement the badge with their own comments and share
4: User can supplement the badge with their own comments and share

The project has been evaluated and we’re hoping to see more badges from the BBC in the future. The Open University have recently announced that they are implementing open badges across some of their Open Learn content. It feels that issuing open badges should be natural progression for an organisation which is setting itself the challenge of becoming more open, with a more fluid workforce, and a requirement to where possible use existing, proven technologies and approaches. There is an interesting tension between the superficial informality of the learning captured by open badges, and the needs of an organisation to protect its reputation, and to manage risk by being obliged to provide a more formal and ‘accredited’ record of training and development. We believe that there is a place for open badges to be used more widely across organisations including the BBC, to capture and display informal learning and more formal training and development.