Recognizing Non-Formal Learning

Posted: December 11, 2011 in Research

I have completed my first major Literature review. I chose to research recognition of non-formal learning. Non-formal learning is directed and intentional, but not guided by someone else. In my paper I explored methods of non-formal learning, practices for recognizing non-formal learning, portfolios, peer evaluation and review, and how they all relate to the Open Badge Framework. The biggest surprise I had in doing the research was that there is not much reliability in peer evaluation. This held true for students evaluating each other’s work, as well as in scholarly peer review for journal submissions.

I Determined the following areas for Further Research

  • The first area for further research is that of the quality and consistency of peer evaluations in an open environment. The validity of open peer assessment for the issuance to badges will be a critical factor in acceptance by industry and academia. The research cited above dealt with students who were in the processes of learning the same material they were accessing, and of expert peer reviewers. The research showed that neither case showed significant reliability. Would the reliability be stronger when working in an open environment? Would evaluators be more likely to give positive or negative ratings based on factors other than the presented work?
  • Another major area of research has to do with industry acceptance of badges. Would employers be willing to accept anything other than a formal college degree as evidence of knowledge ie. a portfolio or digital badge. If they would accept a digital badge, would there be restrictions on the issuer? Would badges need to be endorsed? Would they take into account the motivation or social badge types?
  • The multiplicity of issuers is also an area that needs to be researched. While the ability for there to be multiple issuer types is a necessity of an open system; it also presents a problem. Several issues are addressed above in relation to industry acceptance. Research should also be conducted to determine if there is a need to relate badges of like status and content from different issuers to each other. If this is seen to be a benefit; who would perform the correlations? Would this be performed in an open (voting) system, or by some authority?
  • Additionally there should be research into the effectiveness of RPL programs in other countries. The UK system is robust and has been in place for a decade. It should be able to provide ample data to perform an ex post facto study into its effectiveness.

Recognizing Non-Formal Learning (pdf)


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