Digital badges and other innovations on Open edX
IBL Studios Education has developed the first badge-based technology for the Open edX learning platforms. These badges are digital credentials that recognize and verify students’ achievements and skills at any point in time.
The majority of students in MOOCs neither complete their courses nor receive completion certificates, but many pick up relevant skills and experiences along the way. By issuing badges professors solve this problem. The badges allow instructors to increase students’ engagement and provide independent learners with proof of their accomplishments.
New York City-based IBL Studios Education has written an external component, called an XBlock, for the Open edX software platforms. The “IBL Open Badges” XBlock allows professors to set up a badging strategy for their courses in order to award learners with this type of micro-credential.
Our XBlock is a unique development in the Open edX ecosystem. Technically it is able to extract scores from the grade book, determine eligibility for a badge, establish a secure connection to a badge provider –for now Achievery.com– and issue the badge.
This is not a small software development. Before us several developers tried to solve the badge problem on the edX ecosystem but failed. We got results within two months. We presented this achievement in Harvard University at the Open edX Developers Conference, celebrated during mid-November in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Conceptually, the solution was conceived by IBL’s CEO, Michael Amigot, and George Washington University’s Professor Lorena A. Barba. IBL’s engineering team wrote the XBlock software that connects edX to Achievery.com’s API through a client written in Python. The project was funded by George Washington University. Indiana University and the MacArthur Foundation provided consultancy support.
The first integration of this badge technology took place early in December on the “Practical Numerical Methods with Python” MOOC, a course released at the George Washington Online Open edX platform. This MOOC, conducted by Professor Lorena A. Barba, has issued 115 badges so far.
These badges are being issued upon completion of graded modules, set up at the subsection level.
These badges may contain student links providing evidence of their learning through their GitHub repositories.
Michael Amigot is the CEO and founder of IBL Studios Education, a New York City-based IT consultancy firm specialized in building Open edX ecosystems. IBL provides technical solutions pertaining to Open edX software and courses for two prominent academic institutions in the U.S.: George Washington University and Cooper Union.
In addition, IBL Studios Education has developed the first badge-based technology for Open edX learning platforms, in collaboration with Indiana University and George Washington University. Michael Amigot presented this achievement in Harvard University at the Open edX Developers Conference, celebrated on November. Michael is also the author of the first “Open edX guide”.
IBL is one of the few companies appointed by the edX consortium as a third-party provider. It also serves universities such as Comillas – ICADE, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Alfonso X El Sabio, Francisco de Vitoria, Universidad de Navarra. IBL recently won the first public contracts to install Open edX instances in Spain, with the Ministry of Education and Red.es.
Michael earned his college degree in Information Sciences from the University of Navarra in 1987. Born in Spain and a resident of the U.S. since 2001, Michael is a serial, independent entrepreneur who has spent his entire career developing innovative ideas in the fields of technology, education and media. He was one of the pioneers of the Internet in Spain, launching one of the first online media outlets (rebranded today as IBLNews.com). Michael blogs at Amigot.com.
Daniel T. Hickey is an Associate Professor and Program Coordinator with the Learning Sciences program at Indiana University in Bloomington, and a Research Scientist with the Indiana University Center for Research on Learning and Technology. He completed his Ph.D. in Psychology at Vanderbilt University and a postdoctoral fellowship at that Center for Performance Assessment at Educational Testing Service. He studies situative and participatory approaches to assessment, feedback, and motivation, mostly in online and game-based learning contexts. He has directed projects in these areas funded by the National Science Foundation, NASA, and the MacArthur Foundation, and has published papers in leading journals. His full bio is here.
Dr. Hickey directed the Design Principles Documentation project, a two year study of the 29 projects funded in the 2012 Badges for Lifelong Learning Initiative. The final report will be published in early 2015, but most of the project findings are already available at http://dpdproject.info/. His newest badges project is called Open Badges in Higher Education and aims to support and publicize high-quality uses of digital badges the major learning management systems in higher education around the world. The project is currently seeking collaborators who are looking for help, partnership, and community in their higher education badging efforts. He and his team blog about this work at http://remediatingassessment.blogspot.com/