Open Passport: Reinventing the ePortfolio from Open Badges?

There are two possible approaches to connecting Open Badges with ePortfolios: assimilation and accommodation. Assimilation looks at Open Badges as a nice add-on to ePortfolios. This can be done by adding a plug-in to an existing piece of software. It is what "Moodle as issuer, Mahara as displayer" (link). 

Accommodation requires much more than adding a simple plug-in, it should be about rethinking ePortfolios in light of what we have learned from Open Badges. We should start by asking questions such as: what can we do with Open Badges that was not possible with current ePortfolios? How should ePortfolios change in order to use the full power of Open Badges.

For example, while there have been calls for some time now to make better use of metadata in ePortfolios (or even simply use them!), the beauty of Open Badges is that they are a pure set of metadata (an Open Badge is a picture into which metadata are 'baked'). How could we use the information contained in Open Badges to generate ePortfolios out of them? Conversely, what would we need in an ePortfolio that we would like to find in Open Badges, for example the narrative that led to the attribution of a Badge. Could a collection of Badges allow the automatic creation of meta-narratives?

These are some of the questions the Badge Europe! initiative has decided to explore. And to give a name to this new kind of ePortfolio, we call it the Open Badges Passport, or Open Passport for short.

Another key question being explored: how can the data contained in the Open Passports be exploited? What kind of new services could emerge?

To explore this issue, one needs to understand that Open Badges are much more than "Digital records of achievements, skills, interests, affiliations or roles" (Mozilla); they are also connectors between people, places, organisations and ideas! For example, a specific Badge connects all the people sharing the same Badge or specific criteria connects all the Badges that share these same criteria. From the exploitation of the information contained in Open Passports, a whole new range of services could emerge, such as finding people sharing the same interests, with specific competencies or employers looking for specific competency-set, etc. 

How many services could emerge? It is impossible to anticipate, but what the Open Passport will do is provide a simple API (Application Programming Interface) so that any service trusted by their owner will have access to the (meta) data it contains.

The architecture of the Open Passport should facilitate all kinds of connections:

  • Connecting people sharing similar interests
  • Connecting personal goals with examples of learning pathways (and people)
  • Connecting people to trade knowledge or services

For example, someone could self-issue a 'volunteer teacher' Badge that would be discoverable by other Open Passport owners (through trusted services). As the 'volunteer teacher' supports more learners through their journey, she receives more endorsement Badges, thereby increasing her trust capital.

Exploiting the data contained in the networks of Open Passports through search services, it would be possible to show the many different paths that lead to a job or role, making people more confident about the options available for reaching their goals. Connector services could also connect personal goals to various resources such as literature, courses, internship, mentoring and more.

While Open Badges have been described as the "New Currency for Professional Credentials," the true value of Open Badges is the trust they embed, the trust that Badge holders receive from Badge issuers.

The Open Passport will address a number of issues elicited from the current implementations of the OBI:

  • user unfriendliness — Badges will be received and displayed with one click
  • power unbalance between issuers and holders — everybody will be issuing and receiving Badges
  • data fragmentation — different data types will be hosted: Open Badges, xAPI statements, evidence and more
  • data exploitation — new services, trusted by the owner, will have access to the Open Passport through an AP
  • data management —  user-defined rules and policies will be enforced (a must have, for trust networks)

Eventually, the Open Passport will empower their owners to create a new type of ePortfolio, a trustworthy and distributed Open Passport with which everybody will be able to issue, receive and display Open Badges. If Open Badges are the building blocks of trust networks, Open Passports are the virtual wallets to store and grow our trust capital. 

And the beauty of trust as a currency embedded in Open Badges: when you give your trust to someone else, you not only do not loose any, but you might even get more — trust trickles downwards as well as upwards! 

Otto Nate and Serge Ravet will present the Open Badge Passport at OpenED 2014An API of One's Own: Individual Identities as First-Class Citizens in the Open Badges Infrastructure

You are interested in working on the reinvention of ePortfolios? Please contact serge.ravet@gmail.com