The Open University (OU) is building on years of knowledge, experience and research into Open Educational Resources (OER) with its release of innovative new free Badged Open Courses (BOCs). These have been developed in response to the needs of informal learners who are seeking access to study skills and to have their learning recognised.
“We have listened to the changing needs and requirements of our informal learners using our open platforms” says The OU’s Open Media Unit Director, Andrew Law. “Badged Open Courses will complement The OU’s extensive and growing portfolio of OER on OpenLearn and provide learners recognition for their achievements through assessment – for free.” The team at The OU who produced the courses were finalists in The Learning Awards 2015 for ‘Innovation in Learning’.
BOCs will be different from MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) because they are perpetual, enabling students to return to them at any time to refresh their knowledge, unlike MOOCs which have a set start and finish date. The first to be released will be as Beta, to gather user feedback which will help improve the experience for learners.
Currently, learners enrolled on any of the 800 short courses on OpenLearn can download an Activity Record to print or to share online what they have read. Digital badges issued with each BOC and accompanying Statement of Participation certificate are a different marker of achievement: learners willhave not only read full online courses but will have passed online quizzes to earn their digital badge and
OU certificate. Pilot research has shown that this will help informal learners build confidence and motivation for learning, providing a record of achievement which they can share with friends, learner communities, employers and educational institutions. Learners will be able to display their completed badges publicly or privately in their My OpenLearn profile and link to other platforms, such as LinkedIn, WordPress, Twitter and Facebook.