Open Badges are admitted to university careers

Following integration between ESSE3 and Bestr, Italian universities can now recognise credits for students’ activities certified by Open Badges
April 18, 2016

As from April 2016, ESSE3, the information system that handles 83% of Italian university careers, interacts with Bestr, enabling Italian university administrations to recognise credits for their students who hold a Badge approved by the university concerned.

Learning takes place everywhere. While attending University, students also learn simultaneously in other places: developing personal hobbies, pursuing their personal interests or enjoying a great variety of experiences.

The interaction between these different ways of learning is precious and it is that which enables the individual to grow and develop proactively. The universities know this and they themselves offer an extremely wide range of extra-curricular activities, which may be related to their courses to a greater or lesser extent, but which always offer the learner the chance to reflect and grow. Not only that, but the value of these activities may also be recognised, in the form of credits, as part of the degree course, either by helping to reach the number of credits required to pass a particular exam, or by being added on as extra, optional didactic study.

Badges represent competencies

Every University, school, company, association or organisation that contributes through its activities to developing competencies in learners may issue Badges to represent these competencies.

The Badges include a description of the competencies represented and the criteria by which they are recognised.

The organisation that has designed the Badge then issues it to the learners who satisfy the criteria laid down.

Endorsement: to recognise the value of a Badge

A University may recognise the value of the competencies represented by the Badge, thus demonstrating its own trust in the organisation issuing the Badge. This recognition is expressed as an endorsement, which is done through the Bestr platform, also including a comment substantiating the reason for the endorsement. 

On ESSE3: the Badges accepted by the University

The ESSE3 student management system, used by 80% of Italian universities, allows the operator in the university administration to view all the Bestr Badges recognised as valid by that University, including Badges issued by the University and those which have its endorsement.

For each Badge, the University can establish whether any, or how many, credits may be recognised  for students who hold them, depending on their degree course and didactic activities.

From Badges to Credits

Through ESSE3, a university can view which of its students have obtained the Badges recognised by  that University. In accordance with rules laid down for each degree course and didactic activity, credits are recognised for students holding the Badges.

For example, a student who holds a badge corresponding to an active educational experience, relevant to his degree course and supported by a final examination of a standard which has been checked in advance by the University and confirmed with an endorsement, may have the whole of that didactic activity recognised. 

For the same Badge, but for a student following a degree course that is less relevant, recognition may still be conferred as extra-curricular didactic activity, potentially as an extra amount, for which credits, area, type of activity and discipline will be defined.

Open Badges as a common  language for sharing competencies

Integration of Bestr with ESSE3 provides Universities with a digital instrument to implement rapidly, and in an innovative way, something that is already a long established idea of university teaching: recognising the value of a language certificate obtained through an experience abroad, or an internship that has developed competencies that are complementary to a degree course, and so on. 

The disruptive element does not lie just on the technological side, making recognition easier, faster and more transparent for all the operators, but also in the fact that, by making use of Open Badges, recognition can be activated for competencies that, until a very short time ago, were not identified in a sufficiently structured way to be taken into consideration by a University.

Those soft skills that have been spoken about such a lot recently were not defined by any collectively recognised framework and this made it difficult to give them a value.

With Open Badges each learning provider defines in a clear, detailed, public and shared manner how it interprets and examines the competencies represented by the Badges, thus allowing any interested party to assess them and decide whether or not to back them with an endorsement.