the 14th conference on ePortfolios, Open Badges, Personal Ledgers, Identities, Trust, Blockchains…
Bologna 26-27-28 October 2016
Bologna is home to the oldest university in the world, founded in 1088, so it was a fitting place for the Open Badge and ePortfolio communities to come together and discuss the future of Open Badges and “to think deeply about technology – not just its surface and trends but its newest ideas and applications – and technology to be the key to open up educational and social innovation: open it up to new viewpoints and new paths.” (http://www.epforum.eu/)
The conference was held at the Palazzo Gnudi whose building has its origins in the first half of 1500. The room the conference was held in was the beautiful Galleria degli Stucchi, decorated in 1789 by Giacomo Rossi with high-relief panels and niches with pairs of figures inspired by Greek classicism. It was a breathtaking setting and somehow lent additional gravitas to the proceedings.
The Open University was there to talk about how we see the future of Open Badges integrating with Blockchain technology. John Domingue gave a well-received presentation on “Open Blockchain: Experiments In Using Blockchains to Support Adult Education”. We also had a constructive workshop brainstorming how blockchains might be used for badges and ePortfolio data.
Later during a pleasant walk through the cobbled streets of Bologna we had productive discussions with Phil Long, the Chief Innovation Officer at the University of Texas in Austin who is experimenting with bockchains along similar lines to KMi. He went on to give an inspiring presentation of the work they have been doing setting up multiple blockchains within various departments at his university onto which they have then been putting their open badges.
Of the many other thought provoking talks given, one notable speaker was David Leaser from IBM presenting on ‘How Open Badges deepen professional engagement’. IBM are currently offering 8 badges to their employees for gaining credentials from the IBM Business Unit. Many of these badges are also open to anyone to earn through the IBM Professional Certification Program.
Leila Topic from LRNG gave an interesting talk about their work on the ‘Cities of Learning’ project. This project works in partnership with “schools, businesses, cities, and community institutions such as libraries and museums, nationwide and around the globe, to create a 21st century learning experience for learners everywhere” (LRNG website). LRNG works with young people and tries to connect their passions to their learning, leveraging mobile technology to engage and support the development of real-world and employable skills.
One of the outcomes of the ePIC conference was the Bologna Open Recognition Declaration (BORD). This declaration is “a call for a universal open architecture for the recognition of lifelong and lifewide learning achievements”. Participants were asked to support the declaration and where issued an open badge for showing their support. Here is my Open Badge for supporting BORD:
It was an enjoyable and stimulating event where the overall consensus was that a combination of blockchains, ePortfolios and badges have the potential to radically transform education for student and societal benefit.