Badges, badges, badges

Earn your first badge now!

I’ve posted before about this nonsense but then I heard the exciting news about how you can bypass all that messy unpleasant formal education stuff and get straight on and get some real recognition for your achievements via this super Open Badges concept:

Want to get started? Earn a Mozilla Webmaker badge.

Or set up your Mozilla backpack to start storing, collecting and sharing your badges across the web.

Earn a badge from one of these members of the Open Badges community.

Need a demo? Take the badges 101 quiz, and earn a badge in the process!

Get recognition for the things you learn, online and off

 Not an accredited qualification

Not an accredited qualification

Open Badges includes a shared technical standard for recognizing your skills and achievements. Badges help make them count towards an education, a job or lifelong learning.

Earn badges from anywhere. Then take them everywhere. Collect and store your badges in your backpack, sort them into categories and then display them across the web — on social networking profiles, job  sites, websites and more.

Prove skills. Employers, organizations and schools can explore the data behind each badge issued using Mozilla Open Badges to verify your skills, achievements and interests.

Knit your achievements together. Whether they’re issued by one organization or many, badges can build upon each other, joining together to tell the full story of your skills and achievement.

And if you go to this site you can make your own badges. It’s all a bit Blue Peter really. I made my own:

Badge-1

Still struggling to see any merit in any of this. Also I really can’t take claims of shared standards at all seriously. And which employers are treating these kinds of things as comparable to formal qualifications.

Badge

Advertisements

The Beginning of the End for Traditional HE?

Will MOOCs kill universities?

The future for universities?

No.

Forbes carries an expansive piece on the implications of MOOCs and asks “Is Coursera the Beginning of the End for Traditional Higher Education?“.

Could high-quality MOOCs eventually do to traditional colleges and universities what Craigslist has done to classified advertising in newspapers and what Wikipedia has done to encyclopedias? In other words, could Coursera and its ilk replace a $250,000 college degree and decimate the world of brick-and-mortar colleges and universities?

A previous post highlighted many of the issues and challenges associated with MOOCs. In summary, some of problems with these developments include:

  • There is no proper academic quality assurance: by and large anyone can offer any course they want without any need for approval.
  • Self-selection: courses are offered by self-selecting academics and followed by self-selecting students.

  • Drop out rates are inevitably very high.
  • There isn’t any meaningful or quality assured assessment.
  • Non-accreditation: completion will get you an attendance certificate or a virtual badge rather than credit or a real qualification.

Of course this Forbes piece is just the most extreme example of the overblown hype surrounding MOOCs. As suggested in the earlier piece on these developments, MOOCs have more in common with the growth in adult education and the expansion of Mechanics’ Institutes in the late 19th Century. Unlike classified ads in newspapers and encyclopaedias, universities are built on more enduring foundations. Yes there will be challenges from the new online provision but the idea that Coursera and the like will kill off universities is just absurd. And all that content has to come from somewhere.

The most entertaining response to this kind of piece I have seen is over at the Easily Distracted blog. Under the headline “Listen up you primitive screwheads” we find the following spot on observatopn:

Again, pundits, let’s talk. MOOCs are damn interesting, you betcha, but seriously, if you think they’re about to solve the labor-intensivity of higher education tomorrow with no losses or costs in quality, you have a lot of learning to do. Not just about the costs and budgets of higher education today, but about the history of distance learning. Right now you guys sound like the same packs of enthusiastic dunderheads who thought that public-access television, national radio networks, or correspondence courses were going to make conventional universities obsolete via technological magic. And hey, if you’re that keen on the digital, skip the drinks, I’m happy to educate you via email.

Hear, hear.

I’m looking forward to when the fuss dies down a little and we can assess more soberly the contribution that MOOCs might make to higher education more generally. In the meantime I guess we’ll just have to put up with this kind of ‘is this the end for universities?’ silliness.

Another university league table variation

A league table of universties’ social media ‘visibility’

Econsultancy have published a league table of Russell Group universities’ social media profiles or their ‘visibility’:

The visibility score we use here is based on the total number of links a web domain has scored on the six social sites, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Delicious and StumbleUpon, while accounting for different weightings we give to links on individual social sites.

The content linked to includes

news page stories about new research studies and initiatives are quite common. While heavily shared links included software simulations, web cam images, jokes and podcasts.



The league table is as follows:

Social visibility of Russell Group universities

University of Cambridge. Visibility score: 462,823

University of Oxford: 442,758

London School of Economics: 286,859

Newcastle University: 186,184

University College London: 176,202

University of Warwick: 169,462

University of Manchester: 143,186

University of Edinburgh: 131,053

Queens University Belfast: 118,137

University of Glasgow: 72,211

University of Bristol: 70,656

University of Nottingham: 64,381

University of Leeds: 63,802

Imperial College London: 47,321

Cardiff University: 46,053

University of Southampton: 44,106

King’s College London: 31,762

University of Liverpool: 20,444

University of Birmingham: 15,873

University of Sheffield: 9,912

It’s a bit crude but nevertheless fascinating. And it is quite striking how big the gap is between Oxbridge and the lower half of the table. Many of us have a lot to do to catch up.

Universities spending millions on ‘inadequate’ websites

Money down the drain?

A report in the Telegraph highlights significant spending by universities on website redesigns which seems to deliver less than spectacular results:

Using Freedom of Information legislation the Telegraph discovered eight examples of universities spending between £100,000 and £280,000 on one-off website redesigns, as much as five times higher than the average spending.

The average annual spending on the maintenance of a university website is £60,375. That figure excludes additional spending on one-off redesigns, for which the average spending is £60,882.

The most expensive university website is the University of Hertfordshire’s, which spent £278,094 on a redesign by Precedent Communications and Straker UK, completed in May 2008. The university also employs staff whose salaries cost £221,500 every year, in addition to £14,500 each year for software support.

The reality is though that every university will account for its spend on its website differently with some being more centralised and others being more devolved. Whichever way you look at it though, spending £60k a year on maintaining a website seems an extremely modest investment for such a key recruitment, promotional and communications tool.

The report also quotes a survey by Times Higher Education which asked sixth form pupils to rate university websites:

The survey split university websites into three categories — well performing, average performing and badly performing — based on five principles including accessibility, contact information, the availability of good feedback from students, the uniqueness of the website and the quality of insight into the campus experience. Comparing spending information with the Times Higher Education survey suggests that some universities may be under-investing in their websites.

So, the conclusions are that some universities are under-investing and others are spending too much and no-one has really got the balance right. Helpful.

New internships for graduates this summer

Government launches ‘Graduate Talent Pool’ which is intended to boost opportunities for graduates.

A new dedicated website, which will match employers with suitable graduates will be launched over the summer, although interested organisations can register their interest in becoming part of the Graduate Talent Pool today online at www.dius.gov.uk/graduatetalentpool. Businesses that have already signed up to the Talent Pool include Network Rail, the Police Service, Marks and Spencer and Microsoft. During the current economic downturn the Government is looking to support graduates seeking work. The aim is for the ‘Graduate Talent Pool’ to support 5,000 internships, building on the 2,000 already achieved through HEFCE’s Economic Challenge Investment Fund and will sit alongside other additional graduate opportunities…

Meanwhile, the University of Nottingham has won a share of the Economic Challenge Investment Fund and with match funding from the University and local businesses this will:

provide £1m for the Centre for Career Development (CCD), the Institute of Enterprise and Innovation (UNIEI) and the Graduate School to deliver the ‘Talent Builder’ project. The project will offer internships to graduates, post-graduates and unemployed professionals. It will also offer a recession proofing programme to strengthen current businesses and support new start-up companies.

So, although prospects are reported as being rather gloomy for graduates, substantial efforts are being made by DIUS and universities and these internship opportunities should make a difference.