Digital Vocational Badges

Digital Vocational Badges
In this post post we want to introduce a major project officially launched at the Royal Society of Arts last week. It’s a project we’re hoping should lead to a brighter future for students seeking employment, called Digital Vocational Badges.

The problem
We know our learners face an increasingly competitive and global job market and that in order to differentiate themselves, they need to demonstrate the skills employers most value. Look at any job ad and the formal qualification is taking a backseat. The real skills they’re seeking, the so-called ‘21C skills”, are those such as communication, collaboration and problem solving. So how do we recognise these skills in our learners and how can they share these with employers.

It seems incredible that after completing say a two year qualification with us, that when it comes to communicating this to potential employers, the best we can offer is to suggest using phrases like “passionate”, “good team worker” and “hard working” on their CV.

In other words, we invest huge amounts of time in formal qualifications that are of limited interest to employers and then get them to self-certify on the skills that employers actually want. The bottom line is that formal qualifications, no matter how impressive, and a well presented CV no longer equal employment.

But that’s just it: how do teaching staff formally recognise these skills and also in a way that students can share with employers. How can we capture spontaneous moments of genuine real-world problem solving, showing true grit or staying cool under pressure; how do you reward that student in a way that will mean something to prospective employers?

Our solution
Remember how in scouts or girl guides you would earn badges for achievements? We’re bringing these back and applying them to education, but this time they’re digital. A digital badge can be created for just about anything; attendance, perseverance, meeting deadlines. They can be awarded to students by anyone, who can then share them with anyone. The badges themselves can be explored to find out who issued it, what was the criteria and what was the evidence. Employers can drill down and see all the evidence that shows why the student has been recognised for their Commitment, Attendance or Showing Initiative This could include photos of customer feedback cards, attendance reports, or video testimonials from tutors.

Most of the technical infrastructure to deliver the project is already in place and we are building on the work by Mozilla and using their Open Badges platform.

It’s not just us either.   Read how 10million better futures are hoping to use this platform by 2016.

We need employers to build the badges
We’re piloting with sectors; hospitality & catering, complementary therapy and hair & beauty. In order to give our badges the most credibility, we are now beginning our outreach to employers to find out the key skills that they value most when choosing prospective candidates. We will then translate these into digital badges.

To inform this process, we have launched a brief skills survey available here for all local employers.

We’re also inviting employers to our launch event at the Kings Restaurant on 19th November 2015 where we’ll be capturing the criteria and evidence for the skills they need.  You can book free tickets for this event now.

For more information regarding the project please contact

Blended Learning goes Massive

We’re excited to tell you about a great opportunity to boost your learning technology skills and ideas. Introducing the Blended Learning Essentials MOOC.

Er… the what?

The Blended Learning Essentials MOOC is a 5-week online course starting Nov 2nd, focused on pedagogy and technology.

What’s it about?

In their words, by the end of the course you will be able to:

  • use a range of effective blended learning practices and pedagogies to improve your learners’ experience and attainment
  • understand how the many free and affordable technologies now available can enhance teaching and learning, and
  • approach new technologies with confidence, designing a pedagogical approach to make the best use of these tools

So what’s a MOOC?

A MOOC, or Massive Open Online Course, is delivered typically through interactive online video, is open and free to anyone, and sometimes taken by hundreds of thousands of students at the same time all around the world.

The course already has 5,000 teachers in FE signed up, and we’d like as many of Sussex Downs College to take part.

Breakfast anyone?

To answer any queries arising during the course, the LTI team will be hosting breakfast and/or twilight sessions at the Eastbourne and Lewes campuses during the course.  These will provide a chance to discuss what you’ve learned, ask questions about what you’re not so sure about, and share your ideas for how you plan to use blended learning in your practice.

Campus Room Date Time Discussion
Eastbourne LTC, A Level Centre Tue 10/11/15 17.00-17.30 Week 1 content
Lewes 226, Cliffe Building Wed 11/11/15 13.30-14.00 Week 1 content
Lewes 226, Cliffe Building Tue 24/11/15 17.00-17.30 Week 2 & 3 content
Eastbourne LTC, A Level Centre Wed 25/11/15 08.15-08.45 Week 2 & 3 content
Eastbourne LTC, A Level Centre Tue 08/12/15 17.00-18.00 Week 4 & 5 content
Lewes 226, Cliffe Building Wed 09/12/15 17.00-18.00 Week 4 & 5 content

Tell us you’re attending here.

Flat out?

Remember, if you’re stretched for time right now, there’s no harm in signing up and then reviewing the material in your own time, at a later date.

So in case you missed it, here’s the link. And tell us you’ve signed up here.

(not so) Secret Agents

Last week we ended briefly mentioning our new Digital Agents initiative that we’re hoping to launch. But what is a digital agent?

The way we envision this program is as a way to draw students into the innovation and integration part of learning tech. These students, or College Digital Agents – CoDAs as we’ve taken to calling them will come from all across the wider college. We want a broad range of students from all disciplines and interests, not just those already with a strong knowledge of technology.

They will provide student feedback, telling us how we’re doing at integrating technology. They’ll explore how to develop and improve its use, suggest new approaches and give us other students views on them.

Currently the idea is being pitched to this year’s Student Executive and we’re excitedly waiting on their feedback. Watch this space to find out more.