OU COVID Research: Online Learning and Education · Editorial

Open digital badges for teacher development in India

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IET's 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.

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

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. A summary report is available here.

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.

The digital badges project was discussed at the OU COVID-19 Research: Online Learning and Education seminar, a free event which took place on Thursday, 27th May 2021. The seminar hosted a number of OU-funded researchers who discussed projects which have taken place during the COVID-19 pandemic to support online learning, teaching and training.

To find out more about how this research has been carried out, visit the project page here.