Open Badges: why use new tools for supporting old (and maybe outdated) formats?

Ever since I participated in Tim Riches’s workshop on Open Badges at the PLE Conference in 2013 (Berlin), I have been fascinated with the seemingly endless possibilities of this instrument.
For the past year or so, I have had the opportunity to get closer to the development of an Open Badge set for recognising intercultural competences acquired through student exchanges (through the GO2B project).

Today, I attended a session on this topic at the Onderwijsdagen, organised by SURF in Rotterdam, where they presented a white paper on how Open Badges could potentially be used in the Dutch educational system. The presentation, but also, the reactions from members of the audience were very enlightening.
Some of my observations:

1. The strength of Open Badges in my view is their simplicity: they give a framework for accrediting well-defined skills and competences, but stay away from dictating the content of these skills and competences. Seen in this way, Open Badges define the process rather than the outcome. And this makes them highly useable for very different fields of application.
2. The value of a Badge is defined by the community it is supported by. Outside this community it may not have much perceived value (but couldn’t you say the same of degrees?)
3. As an instrument, Open Badges are particularly suited to support peer learning and peer feedback/ peer assessment practices. However, this particular strength is not picked up on by many… I wonder why….
4. In the same line of thought: from the learners’ perspective, Open Badges not only help them structure their own learning path, but also teach them to critically look at others’ work and give (constructive) feedback. In other words, these instruments help them self-regulate their own learning and be valued partners in their peers’ learning. I haven’t seen many other scalable practices that do that.

So, in short, my key observation is: why do we not use the opportunities that Open Badges give to push the boundaries of the current educational system, beyond the degree system that we have now?

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