This excellent research paper reviews the history and use of Open Badges within Higher Education, it provides references to case studies from the early days of Open Badges to these days and their learning, regarding the advantages, disadvantages and challenges of use. The paper then follows a pilot program at the University of Talinn, as part of a Master level course on Research Methods, focusing on Open Badges as part of the curriculum, and using them in parallel for assessment of soft and hard skills and knowledge in a Bachelor level course. The paper presents variety of considerations and decisions taken within the process of implementing Open Badges, such as the technical platform, through the relation between formal learning and badges awarded, the development of personal learning paths, levels and form of assessments – which became more holistic and inclusive due to the integration of Open Badges. The pilot resulted , on the learners side, in more engagement and enthusiasm, great appreciation of the personal learning paths and a general positive experience, especially to the soft skills being recognized, and to the competitive / gamification elements involved. On the teachers’ side, the difference between previous forms of assessment and this one meant more adjusting and more consideration in each step. Overall, the advantages and value proved more positive and interesting to pursue, going forward.
The authors examine the potential and status of blockchain technology from the perspective of self-sovereign learning. They describe and investigate projects on decentralized identity management as the basis of a learner-centered agency, on a national and European level, based on different types blockchains; the digital credentials as the “building blocks” of life-long learning, and its current lack of mobility and interoperability; and they describe a resistance to the adoption of decentralized open models, notably on the side of policy makers, higher education, and commercial entities.