“For me (Fast Company) is a strong brand, and I’m happy to see the Silicon Shire, or Eugene, end up on their list,” said Cale Bruckner an executive at Concentric Sky, a Eugene tech firm, and an organizer behind Silicon Shire, a marketing and branding effort for Eugene-Springfield’s tech community.
The Apple Watch at launch will have only very restricted hardware access for developers, so it might be that we don’t see news products that take advantages of those sensors for some time. But Kurt Mueller, a developer I spoke to at Concentric Sky — a development company that’s created products for National Geographic and the UN — thinks that Apple will unlock them as the product matures. Just as with the original iPhone, the toolkit will be opened up so that developers can eventually tie news products in with the richer picture they’re getting of their readers. That could mean apps that send you post-workout meal recipes, or that tie into your daily routine — knowing when you’re talking a walk around the block to send you an update on a story you’re interested in, knowing not to push you breaking news alerts when you’re out for a run, or knowing that when you’re sitting down at work, it’s not a great idea to distract you.
Eugene tech executive and serial entrepreneur Wayne Skipper wants Oregon to show the rest of the country — perhaps even the world — a whole new way of looking at learning.
CORVALLIS, Ore. – The Professional and Continuing Education, or PACE program at Oregon State University has begun an educational “badge” initiative, becoming part of an innovative national movement to expand the way learning accomplishments can be recognized.
These digital badges offer an additional method to recognize skills, education and abilities. As an “open credential,” they are detailed and personalized – and via computers can offer a more current and exact description of just what a person knows how to do.
The movement is conceptually similar to the “merit badges” that scouts have used for decades. But instead of a canoeing badge sewn onto a sash that verifies a person knows how to paddle a canoe, digital badges are computer icons that both recognize and can link to a full description of a person’s knowledge in a particular field – anything from robotics to welding to financial management.
At OSU, the first 300 badges have been issued to graduates of the popular “master gardener” online program. About 700 more badges are going to be presented to graduates of four other PACE programs in coming months.
“With employers relying more heavily on social media platforms like LinkedIn to make salary and career advancement decisions, we wanted to provide our students with a form of web-based credentialing that is secure, portable and meets contemporary workforce-related needs,” said Chris LaBelle, director of Professional and Continuing Education.
At OSU, LaBelle said, badges may be used to signify completion of a certificate program, an intensive workshop or the acquisition of a certain set of skills. They will be offered as a supplement to traditional degrees and certifications.
The badge movement is still in its infancy, but is already being embraced by a variety of institutions, from universities to private industry, government agencies and trade organizations. Open source computer software companies are among its advocates, and the system being used at OSU will work on multiple digital platforms.
In this initiative, OSU is working with the Oregon Badge Alliance, a non-profit organization working to set up a system of badges and micro-certifications in the state. Badges can provide detail on skills and achievements that aren’t available on traditional academic records and may include a range of work and studies far beyond a person’s academic degree. Creators of a badge clearly spell out the criteria for earning them, and they can recognize a specific accomplishment or sometimes continued growth in a general area of study.
“Because open badges can be collected from multiple sources, the possibilities are really endless,” said Wayne Skipper, founder of the Oregon Badge Alliance Wayne Skipper said. “In a rapidly evolving education landscape, the ability for students to quantify their own learning achievements is paramount. That requires more granular data than what we normally see on a transcript.”
PACE’s digital badge program has attracted the attention of other OSU colleges and departments as well, LaBelle said.
“Digital badges have the potential to become a university-wide program,” LaBelle said. “While non-degree students will receive the first wave of digital badges issued by our unit, I fully expect a demand for this form of micro-credentialing to spill over to OSU's student services and degree-based programs.”
Digital badges are already a national movement.
One university, for instance, provides different badges for various milestones in robotics, and another provides badges for reaching benchmarks of learning in regular, credit-bearing college courses.
Once awarded, badges can also be linked to a wide range of information that would never be found on an academic transcript, such as workshops attended, awards won, projects completed, essays written or work samples.
Colleges like OSU, the University of California and Carnegie Mellon are being joined by many other institutions in the badge movement. The Smithsonian Institution is awarding badges, as are the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Association of Manufacturers, Intel and Disney-Pixar.
The Technology Association of Oregon board of directors has three new members tapped from growing firms in Portland and Eugene. With these new members, the ranks of the board swells to 33.
We recently had the pleasure to provide testimonials on the National Career Readiness Certificate for the Oregon Employment Department. We use the NCRC here at Concentric Sky as a part of our hiring process, to ensure that applicants meet basic qualifications.
I just recently discovered the app Libations. They're an app that lets you rate drinks ranging from wine, whiskey, tea, coffee, and beer. I have been waiting a long time for an app like this. It's your own personal drink journal, great for looking back on when you can't decide what to drink, or when you can't remember the name of that last delicious craft beer you had.
It’s been called the biggest educational revolution in centuries, an increasingly popular movement that could shape the future of higher learning around the globe.
Local tech firms are on a hiring binge. At least 50 companies belonging to the Silicon Shire — a local tech networking group — are hiring, according to its website.
I always struggle finding a nice background for my device, and I always want a change of background once every few days. It’s hard to keep looking out for backgrounds that fit your taste, don’t over clutter your screen, and are nice to look at. Since I am quite interested in space and everything related to it, I like to have a nice background of a starry sky. Luckily for me, Concentric Sky has released Astronomy Picture of the Day, a high resolution photo app for iPhone and iPad that brings you the latest and best photos from infinity and beyond, all in collaboration with NASA.