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Open Education

Patrick Blessinger
TJ Bliss

7. The Identified Informal Learner: Recognizing Assessed Learning in the Open

Patrina Law


Badged open courses (BOCs) were piloted on the OpenLearn platform by the Open University (OU) in the UK in 2013. These are free online course upon the completion of which, digital badges are awarded. Based on the evaluation of their impact, they now form a key strand to the OU’s free learning provision, embracing Open Educational Practices at their core. The first permanent suite of BOCs was launched on OpenLearn in 2015 and evaluated for impact, both from an outreach and a business perspective. The application of a branded open digital badge, with associated assessment and feedback has provided a mechanism to motivate and reward informal learners whilst also generating a higher than expected click-through to make an enquiry about becoming a formal student

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Extracto del texto


The Open University (OU) in the UK has long delivered a diverse range of courses to large numbers of people. The OU was established in 1969 with the aim of opening up higher education (HE) to all, regardless of circumstances, geographical location or qualifications. Currently the OU is serving some 200,000 students and is particularly concerned with reaching those who might not otherwise have access to higher education, ensuring that there are as few barriers as possible. As part of this commitment to access, the OU has freely released educational materials into the public realm. This helps to support the twin pillars of core OU activity:

  • Social mission, that is, public awareness of, and easy access to lifelong learning opportunities, including free, informal learning.
  • Business mission, that is brand awareness, student registration, student preparedness, asset and archive exploitation/re-use in formal learning and income from fee-paying customers.

The OU has been providing ...


Head of Free Learning at the Open University, UK where she has spent the last fifteen years of her career. She has moved through various roles in higher education, with an emphasis on eLearning, outreach, and researching and commissioning impactful free learning. Her research interests at present surround understanding informal learners, the impact and implications for digital badging for higher education and how this translates to good open educational practice for the University, for which she has won several awards


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