Qualifications - SQA plans online badge of quality

25th October 2013 at 01:00
Exam body in talks to record student achievements online

As the digital age advances, the days of recording qualifications and achievements on a "piece of paper" will end, according to the Scottish Qualifications Authority.

That is why the exam body has teamed up with non-profit internet organisation Mozilla to explore the possibility of allowing people to display their educational accomplishments online.

The internet company's existing "open badges" scheme lets people share their qualifications and skills on the web, verified by credible organisations. Now it will also design badges to accredit courses on assessment run for teachers and SQA staff.

Open badges could also be used in the early years of secondary, before S4, as an incentive and a means of recording students' achievements, said SQA's head of new ventures, Joe Wilson.

The badges could further be used to accredit learning that had taken place over a period of less than 10 hours, something the SQA was unable to do, he said.

"Once someone is awarded one of these badges they can display it on Facebook, LinkedIn - anywhere in the online world," Mr Wilson said. "When people click on it there's far more information than it would be possible to contain on a qualifications certificate.

"There will be information about the outcomes achieved, who awarded the badge, who judged the performance, and, in instances where something was actually produced, there could be examples of the candidate's work."

Borders College in Galashiels has created badges to issue to staff as a means of recording their continuing professional development. Meanwhile, the Smithsonian American Art Museum has issued badges to teachers and others who took part in its Oh Freedom! online conference exploring civil rights and Smithsonian collections.

Elsewhere, organisations such as Disney Pixar and Nasa are also in the process of designing badges.

The Disney Pixar "Wilderness Explorers" badges - inspired by the animation Up - aim to make primary children more environmentally aware via an online game. As they progress through the levels, they will gain skills and earn badges.

Nasa is creating digital badges for Stem (science, technology, engineering and maths) students of all ages.

Erin Knight, Mozilla's senior director of learning, said: "We are really excited that SQA, as Scotland's national awarding and accreditation body, is actively exploring how best to implement Open Badges as a means to give learners and institutions the opportunity to demonstrate their skills and accomplishments."

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