DisasterReady.org, USA

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DisasterReady.org, a signature initiative of The Cornerstone OnDemand Foundation, offers aid workers and volunteers professional development opportunities by accessing online learning anywhere and anytime at no cost. Their extensive online learning library consists of more than 600 learning resources and covers topics such as Humanitarianism, Program/Operations, Protection, Staff Welfare, Management and Leadership, Staff Safety & Security as well as Soft Skills. DisasterReady.org is accessible as an open online learning portal for individuals as well as organisations wanting to arrange online training for volunteers and employees.

Challenge

Tina Bolding, Director of DisasterReady.org, tells us they started to experience a few key challenges related to their learners and how to verify their skills as the portal gained more popularity. Before Open Badges came along, the best way to offer learners verification after they completed a course or curriculum was to take a screenshot or print their transcript from the DisasterReady learning portal. With Open Badges, learners can display and publish their professional development achievements, which may help with future career and education opportunities. Open Badges addressed another challenge they had around learning pathways. To help learners build competencies in a specific area, the team bundled learning resources into learning pathways (learning packs) on essential topics like security in the field or humanitarian principles. The challenge was getting learners to complete all the training in the learning pathway. “Open Badges has proven to be a great way to raise awareness of our learning pathways, increase learner engagement and incentivise learners to complete all the training in a learning pathway,” Tina explains.

Tina Bolding, Director of DisasterReady.org Tina Bolding, Director of DisasterReady.org

Solution

Because DisasterReady operates as a relatively small team, they were looking for an easy to use platform for creating, issuing and managing Open Badges. Open Badge Factory has been just that: “OBF is an easy-to-use platform to develop and deliver various forms of online recognition to individuals within the DisasterReady.org community. The developers and designers are always strapped for time so we have appreciated the ease with which anyone can design and customise the badges.” Tina says.

DisasterReady started to build their Open Badges strategy by linking Open Badges to the completion of their core learning pathways (learning packs). Although these learning packs were received well by their community of learners, Open Badges brought additional credibility and attention to these essential learning resources.

Naturally, there have been some challenges around Open Badges as well: “Like any new idea, it has taken some time to build awareness around the value of Open Badges and the different ways in which learners can earn them. Now that our learners have grown more comfortable with the concept of Open Badges, we are focused on getting our learners to complete the learning packs, earn the respective badge, and share their accomplishment with their social networks.”

“Sharing these badges across individual’s social networks will significantly increase the value of our learning resources for our learners as well as the visibility of the DisasterReady initiative within the humanitarian aid community,” Tina notes.

The DisasterReady team sees Open Badges as an innovative and effective strategy for engaging their learners. Because of the positive results in the DisasterReady program, they are now excited to bring Open Badges to NonprofitReady.org as well as to their future open online learning initiatives.

Present and Future

DisasterReady has great plans regarding expanding their offering of Open Badges for their learners in the future as they are looking for new ways to recognise skills and certifications. Tina says: “Some may be as small as completing a single online course, others could require the learner to follow a more structured learning path and demonstrate mastery of new skills.”

They are also looking for ways to collaborate with higher-education institutions to provide accreditation of their courses and curricula, and then signify this achievement with Open Badges. “We have also seen interest from within our NGO partner network to develop new learning pathways, creating another opportunity to use the Open Badge Factory. We expect these external accreditations to continue to increase the uptake of Open Badges by our DisasterReady community,” Tina concludes.

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