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Open digital badges for teacher development

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The Open University's (OU) Dr Simon Cross has been working with partners in India to establish the role for open digital badges in teacher professional development (TPD) during a future with COVID-19.

The OU COVID-19 Research: Online Learning and Education Seminar will take place on 27 May 2021.

Addressing the critical need for educational solutions to improve, adapt and advance classroom practice during the COVID-19 pandemic, digital badges have the opportunity for to improve Teacher Professional Development.

Though digital badges are becoming recognised globally as a means for supporting, tracking, and recognising professional learning, there remain structural challenges to mobilising such technologies and reconciling them with existing practice. It is estimated that in India over 400 million hours of TPD will be required to meet the 2020 National Education Policy goals. Consequently, there is a critical need to raise practitioner and policy-makers awareness of the potentials for digital badges and build effective framings through which to understand and implement them.

Discussing the affordances that digital badges at scale can provide in India, Dr Simon Cross, Project Lead, explains:

"Not enough is known about how the combination of affordances offered by open digital badges could operate and combine to support TPD in low- and medium-context countries. Our research seeks to investigate their social, pedagogic and personal needs in the context of and after the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic."

In the context of India, academics from the OU have been working with researchers from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, India (TISS) and the Assam state government to investigate how digital badges may help support new forms of remote or blended professional development and the learning and assessment design associated with these.

During 2020, the OU has held online events with senior government officials, policymakers and teacher educators and launched two pilot interventions.

View a summary report

In 2021, this work has continued with a new pilot in Assam involving teachers from over 250 schools. Recently, state authorities have expressed interest in extending further and a small-scale pilot has started in neighbouring West Bengal.

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