Establishing and sustaining national partnerships in professional development and the recognition of open courses in teaching and learning through digital badges
triple loop transformation
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AbstractThis article discusses a national partnership in Irish higher education between the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning and the sector. The partnership initiative focussed on the scalable design and development of a suite of open-access professional development (PD) courses in teaching and learning. The empirical work explored the role and value of digital badges as professional recognition for open courses, and in particular the transformative experience of the collaborative course design teams from teachers into teachers-as-designers. Each course has been mapped to Ireland’s national PD framework for all staff who teach. This initiative aimed to provide multiple nationally developed access points to PD opportunities and recognise engagement through digital badges. The partnership with course designers from institutions across Ireland was multifaceted, and their transformation from novice creators of digital content is explored here. Lessons learnt relate to developing consensus on national criteria and associated evidence for scalable open courses, ensuring quality assurance and supporting teams working in partnership. A framework of triple-loop learning was used for conceptualising the different phases of development of the collaborating teams and the sectoral learning around partnerships and nationally recognised collaborative course design. Implications for practice or policy: Instructional designers and learning technologists should be included in the development team for early consideration of the concept of badging. Explicit planning is required, including a course development workshop, provision of templates for designing the course and guides for developing resources. To ensure rigor, the development team should integrate a peer review process for validating the course content. Involving human resource and senior managers in exploring PD recognition is vital for sector-wide implementation.