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Open Badges: Recognizing Informal Skills

Open Badges: pour une reconnaissance des compétences informelles
Published on
13 January 2022

Our experience and skills are supported by multiple practices, even if we cannot always verify the conceptual, interpersonal, and emotional benefits that they produce. The Open Badges, to be rolled out in 2022 at Grenoble Ecole de Management, pave the way for the "open recognition" of these informal skills within a local, national, and international ecosystem. Why Should Companies Take It Up?

Whether it be through event participation, community commitments, or personal achievements etc., each person's professional journey is marked by numerous, multifaceted learning experiences. However, this learning and the skills that result from it are neither recognized nor valued in students' training programs, let alone within companies. The Open Badges offered at GEM now provide a cogent response to this lack of recognition.

An Open Badge is a dynamic skill recognition tool.

What Is An Open Badge?

Open Badges : pour une reconnaissance des compétences informelles"An Open Badge is a dynamic skill recognition tool. At the heart of this project lies the issue of employability," emphasizes Luca Bisognin, GEM's Educational Advisor. At the initiative of the Mozilla Foundation and with the financial support of the MacArthur foundation, the Open Badge concept was created in 2012 to facilitate employment access for people in need. The concept, which developed very quickly in countries with a rapidly growing economy, has one goal: to find solutions that make it possible to value the real skills of those who have gone through traditional training processes. 

"Today, Open Badges respond to a key challenge remarked upon by the OECD as early as 2019, which points to the fact that some skills are falling significantly and quickly into disuse. Through the roll out of Open Badges, GEM has taken on a tool that provides solid answers in terms of adaptability to the job market, agility, and employability," notes Luca Bisognin.

How Does An Open Badge Come About?

In concrete terms, an Open Badge is an "open" digital emblem that validates a set of skills. The Open Badge can then be shared on LinkedIn and on all social networks. Its visibility, as well as the associated skills, is immediate. To do this, Open Badges are based on a standard protocol which has been supported and developed since 2016 by the global consortium IMS Global Learning. Now available in version 2.1, this same protocol provides personal, forgery-proof, transferable, and revocable badges.

The fundamental idea of Open Badges is to increase the visibility of previously invisible, yet valuable skills. Around the world, the most common use of Open Badges is to recognize a subset of informal skills that come from experience, namely soft skills (or intangible, interpersonal, and emotional skills). 

"Though at GEM, we are interested in this model, we have also forged connections with companies in order to identify the formal and informal skills our students need. For example, we have already successfully rolled out the Open Badge for Sustainability, which signifies that the student has achieved a significant level of involvement in and understanding of environmental and social issues through participation in at least four activities or modules selected by GEM's Sustainability working group (and which correspond to the skills needed to conduct sustainable business policies). Another approach is the "Common Theme Case Study" ("Cas Fil Rouge") or "Integrated Business Projects" ( Projets intégratifs d'entreprises or PIE), pedagogical tools that already allow the development of key skills needed for approaching specific company issues. In 2022, GEM's ambition, will be to actively recognize the specific skills acquired by students as part of their Integrated Business Projects. "

What Are the Benefits For Companies?

For companies, the Open Badges model allows them to better identify the skills used by GEM students during their time at the School and outside of the traditional curriculum. In the same way, the use of Open Badges makes it possible to form a network of "shared, interdisciplinary, and reciprocal trust" between students, GEM, and partner companies in the region. Like the "Badgeons les territoires" initiatives currently being tested in France, the project aims to roll out an ecosystem of open recognition of informal skills through Open Badges.

Starting in 2017, first in Normandy, then in Centre Val de Loire, Hauts de France, Aquitaine, Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, and Grand-Est etc. initiatives are becoming more common in France with the aim of uniting professional integration associations, training organizations, local authorities, and companies within regional collectives so as to be able to promote and develop new, more dynamic, and more agile recognition models. Several large French companies such as Carrefour and Renault are starting to use them. Attracted by their simplicity, the Ministry of Labor has also launched an experiment to test their usage in processes of recognition and validation of prior learning.

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