Let's Badge Normandy!

Badgeons la Normandie (Let’s badge Normandy) is an active member of global movement that aims at making it possible for anyone to get recognised for their learning, skills and achievements. Agricultural, technical and higher education organisations as well as the farming sector are now examining the use of digital Open Badges in order to recognise learning. Public and private agricultural education establishments in Normandy are leading a series of projects dedicated to giving meaning to learning, reinforcing learners’ personal career projects, recognising and valorising learning achievements, both formal and informal.

Challenge

“We discovered Open Badges through a video by Serge Ravet (@szerge), who is a well-known expert in the field, and decided to create our first badge to valorise the participants of a serious game regarding climate challenges. We started to issue badges only within agricultural education at the end of 2015. However, this strategy proved out to be wrong because of the lack of digital culture, awareness about lifelong and lifewide learning and especially Open Badges. A clear ecosystem was definitely missing,” Philippe Petitqueux (delegate for technologies and education, Regional Authority for Food, Agriculture and Forestry of Normandy) and Emmanuel Bon (delegate for training engineering, Regional Authority for Food, Agriculture and Forestry of Normandy) explain.

Because of the outcome, they decided to organise a big conference in architecturally beautiful Rouen (Normandy) back in May 2016 with the help of Serge Ravet. At the end of the conference, participants were asked to vote about the usage of Open Badges and should they start exploring them further. The answer was crystal clear as 99% voted YES.

Let’s badge Normandy started officially in April 6, 2017 as a network open for anyone wanting to explore the true potential of Open Badges and for building a learning territory. Individuals, institutions, associations and organisations operating in education, training, employment and social integration are all taking part.

Philippe and Emmanuel tell that the region’s agricultural high schools’ students, teachers and professionals cooperate in the fields of agrology, pedagogy, civic engagement and sustainable development and grow abilities that are badly recognised and in some cases not recognised at all. This had to change. They wanted to make non-formal and informal learning and their outcomes visible with modern tools. That’s how Open Badges came into the picture.

Solution

Emmanuel says that the badges they create and issue in Badge Normandy depend on the different projects of each member and what the projects are aiming to achieve: Will these badges be useful in finding a job in the future? Will they enhance the badge earner’s self-esteem? Will they make new skills visible? Will they support the orientation of people? Are they part of a wider learning path? “Everyone of us has to use a canvas and answer these questions in order to create and issue high quality badges,” Emmanuel clarifies.

Philippe continues: “Our primary goals are to acculturate our members and people with badges that recognise participation, community membership and achievement.” Some of their advanced projects:

  • animated by the regional council of Normandy: badges to accompany the digital transition of the centres of learning https://apprentissage.normandie.fr/label-cfa-numerique
  • led by the Dome (Caen): badges to recognise the skills or participation of people during their experiments at the Fablab and in the living lab
  • led by agricultural high schools: valorisation of artistic and cultural projects, citizen engagement and initiatives around agroecology

You can see Badge Normandy badges in Open Badge Passport’s Gallery after logging in!

Philippe Petitqueux and Emmanuel Bon Philippe Petitqueux and Emmanuel Bon

Badge Normandy uses Open Badge Factory for creating, issuing and managing their Open Badges. “OBF has some very important features for us such as badge application and different validation processes. We do actually prefer that it’s the people who ask for the badges or contribute on validating them,” Philippe and Emmanuel explain. They will also be using OBF’s new endorsement feature, as it will add more value to the badges they create and issue.

“Endorsements will promote the recognition of badges by our members or the representatives of employers and possible other institutions. It will definitely contribute to the adoption of this innovative tool.”

They also like using OBF’s sister service Open Badge Passport as it helps making Badge Normandy’s badges visible all around the world. The social features of OBP like the possibility to start a chat around a badge are also very useful for them. “We plan to install a dedicated instance of Open Badge Passport at the end of the year 2018.”

Present and Future

So far it seems like the only challenge Badge Normandy’s members have faced is the fact that open recognition is still very new to their organisation and they are still trying to mobilise it the best way possible.

“It’s common that at first people see Open Badges as micro-credentials but they are so much more. It’s a technology that has the potential to actually transform the way people and their achievements, skills and learning are recognised. Open Badges and now the endorsement features make it possible to shift the focus of recognition from institutions to people,” Philippe states.

Although Badge Normandy is still in early stages, Emmanuel and Philippe say that they can see that the badge earners are satisfied they are receiving recognition from their activities. They have also put much importance in communicating and how they advertise Open Badges and the concept to their interest groups.

“Badges need to be seen as a way to capture learning in context and valorise the people differently than with grades. We have now managed to rally enough of members, especially our Regional Council, to imagine a sunny future for Let’s Badge Normandy,” Emmanuel and Philippe conclude happily.

Read more about Let’s Badge Normandy.