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Wednesday, November 18 • 3:30pm - 4:00pm
The identified informal learner: recognising assessed learning in the open

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Digital badging as a global trend across educational sectors is now recognised. It offers a new way to reward and motivate learners, providing evidence of skills and achievements in a variety of formal and informal settings. As the diversification of OER across multiple platform types and formats has evolved to suit different learners and educators alike, so the notion of recognition for informal learning in these spheres has become accepted provision by some educators and philanthropic providers, where it can be achieved at scale.

Badged Open Courses (BOCs) were piloted by The Open University (OU) in 2013. The project built on research into the motivations and demographic profiles of learners using free educational resources which the OU makes available through its OpenLearn platform. This work was repeated in 2014 and found that an increasing proportion of learners are keen to have their informal learning achievements recognised. Based on all these data, a suite of free employability and skills BOCs was launched in February 2015.

The Open University (OU) currently attracts over 4.4 million informal learners annually to its free public provision on OpenLearn (www.open.edu/openlearn), with around 39 million in total having visited the site. OpenLearn hosts over 850 free courses drawn from undergraduate and post graduate course provision, released under a full Creative Commons licence. The primary aim is to introduce the opportunity to learn to those that might not otherwise have considered the option, and to help prepare those who want to make the next step from informal to formal learning.

The OU has attempted to demonstrate an ongoing institutional commitment to new models of teaching, learning and assessment in the open to serve both informal learners and students. Existing metrics show that OpenLearn attracts a very balanced demographic compared to the potentially ‘over served' cohorts attending MOOC engines.

All learners that study a BOC participate in a number of online assessments delivered through the deployment of Moodle quizzes. The courses are designed to be as robust as any of the OU's modules in terms of quality and pedagogy: they follow strict learning design procedures, academic authoring, assessment and critical readership.

This presentation reports on initial findings of the 2015 BOCs and how they build on what we now know of the strategic importance of free learning recognition. Initial results reveal that the majority of respondents declare that it provides a sense of achievement in the absence of any tutor-led instruction and that they would be sharing their achievement with their employer. In terms of impact to the business, metrics compare favourably with informal learning per se, with 29% of learners visiting the BOCs going on to view the OU's qualifications webpages. This is more than twice the percentage of the average OpenLearn learner.

Presenters
avatar for Anna Page

Anna Page

Senior Producer (Open Education Projects), The Open University
I'm involved in the Opening Educational Practices in Scotland project oepscotland.org


Wednesday November 18, 2015 3:30pm - 4:00pm
Vancouver Island

Attendees (48)