9 ways that Open Badges can help a University

For students, for staff, for relations with businesses: Open Badges make competencies visible and digital, to the advantage of the Universities
July 22, 2016

1. Give real worth to extra-curricular activities.

Students often don’t attend extra-curricular activities because they don’t contribute to earning credits towards the degree. To encourage students to enrol in activities offered by the University to round off their education something needs to be on offer that is both worthwhile and has recognised value. An Open Badge, if it is properly promoted, can successfully achieve this purpose: the student will understand he or she is not working for the degree, but for what follows it, in other words finding a job and a career.

2. Enhance staff competencies.

Anyone working within a university, just as within a company, will acquire new, specific competencies every day, to build up his or her role and often even to go beyond that. Open Badges can be used by the management of human resources, to map out the competencies of the personnel and make them evident to colleagues and superiors. 

3. Manage career progress and internal job rotation.

Once the competencies have been mapped out and put in evidence, as explained in the previous point, the competencies identified can be used to define pathways to career progress: in this way, all the personnel will be made aware of the competencies required to fulfil a particular role and how they can be acquired.

4. Give visibility to the competencies acquired by students through company internships.

All universities have several active arrangements with businesses for setting up internships with students. The information often has to be sought on the level of individual study courses or activities, or it may be listed on a general university level, but without any specific subject matter for the particular arrangement, especially when there are various ones available. By using an Open Badge to represent the competencies covered by the internship, not only is value given openly to the working opportunity with the company and to the internship, but, importantly, something of worth is left in the hands of the student.

5. Give evidence to cooperation with companies. 

If the competencies nurtured in the course of cooperation with companies are represented by Open Badges, as suggested in the previous point, the endorsement becomes the tool that gives visibility to the bond of trust that links the University to the company and it does not just make it abstractly visible, but precisely in the specific context of the competence developed. In this manner, where the company is not very well known, its cooperation with the University will help to increase its merit in the public eye and vice versa: the Badge becomes a catalyst of trust..

6. Automatize recognition of credits.

What does a Badge issued by the University have in common with one it has endorsed? They are both Badges whose value is recognised by the University. Then, if the value is recognised, possibly in certain circumstances (a particular course of study, certain didactic activity ….) it may also decide to recognise credits for students who hold that Badge.

Thanks to the merger between Bestr and ESSE3, universities using ESSE3 can decide in advance how many credits to recognise for students holding a particular Badge, taking into account certain conditions on their study careers: the two systems will then verify possession of the Badge and proceed with its recognition, coherently and with the minimum amount of work required for the operators. 

7. Give importance to collateral competencies developed by students during the course of their studies. 

Humanistic studies create a forma mentis capable of understanding new areas and contexts; engineering directs students towards problem solving: a lot of courses of study have output in terms of soft skills that are not necessarily noticed or recognised by employers. By identifying these and representing them with Open Badges, the university would place itself in a position to issue students with certificates for their soft skills, together with their degree certificate or step by step as the learning activities are completed.

8. Give value to e-learning materials produced by the University.

A University often has e-learning materials at its disposal that have value and interest separately from the course of study they were intended for. Identifying which competencies these help to develop and offering them as learning courses for a corresponding Open Badge can give new life to e-learning materials and help the University to promote its range of teaching courses to a wider public. 

9. Give value to teaching projects in cooperation with other Universities.

Inter-university teaching experiences are often only backed up by the evidence of corresponding web pages, attendance certificates and the inclusion of the experience in the student’s curriculum. Representing the competencies that arise from these contexts with Open Badges that have the  endorsement of both universities involved, gives the cooperation extra visibility and enables the students to obtain lasting proof of their experience.