We recently discussed how open badges featured in Moodle 2.5 might help eLearning break down the gap between education outcomes and vocational needs in a wide range of industries. One area we're really keeping our eye on for this development is the healthcare industry, a sector that's quite often on the cutting edge for taking advantages of opportunities in eLearning.
We're not the only ones looking into the exciting possibilities; our official partner, Totara, focuses on providing open-source eLearning management software for a wide range of corporate enterprises, including the healthcare sector.
They recently interviewed Think Associates’ Managing Director Tim Newham, a professional who has managed large-scale performance and learning processes in the public sector, to get his view on how new eLearning features like Open Badges for Totara 2.4 might help transform healthcare education and delivery. Some of the more fascinating highlights:
- One of the big challenges in healthcare is overcoming the relative inflexibility of healthcare qualifications and the idea that months of work-based experience is a true indication of competence -- which isn't necessarily the case. "Instead, it could be measured and rewarded more effectively with badges. Badges could be issued for effective practice on a particular ward, for dealing with patients with a particular illness, using a particular device."
- For open badges to go mainstream, employers will have to recognize them before employees value them. That creates a bit of a catch-22 situation, but the healthcare industry might actually be the best place to achieve proof of concept. "The overall ecosystem is relatively small (i.e. hundreds of thousands of learners rather than country-sized populations of millions)."
- What are some tangible, easy-to understand examples of how healthcare staff might use open badges? Tim had some great examples:
How about looking at badges as a tool for 360 degree feedback – individuals collect badges throughout the year, and this then becomes their evidence base at appraisal time. Making everyone a badge-issuer would be a great ambition.
Patients could also issue badges for great care – and nurses and doctors could display these with pride.
Another clinical situation could take place at nursing college or medical school, where students could start to collect badges from their tutors. Future employers could (with learner permission) view these badges and check the progress of cohorts, or suggest new areas of learning to make sure that the eventual new employee can be highly effective on day one. Using badges to speed up the dialogue between employers and training/education providers will result in much more effective use of development budget.