Photo: Reijo Koirikivi, Studio P.S.V.

Doctoral defence: Digital Open Badge-Driven Learning – Competence-based Professional Development for Vocational Teachers


Digital open badges are gaining popularity as a means of identification and recognition of competences acquired differently. At the same time, new ways to motivate, scaffold and assess competence-based learning processes in professional development are emerging. In her doctoral dissertation, M.Sci. Sanna Brauer examines vocational pre- and in-service teachers different ideas, views and experiences of digital open badge-driven learning in professional development of digital pedagogical competences. The study is the first European doctoral dissertation to address digital open badges and digital open badge-driven learning.

The results provide insight into the differences and similarities of experiences based on the achieved skill-set level and competence-development continuum of vocational teachers. The study indicates that the stage model of scaffolding and instructional badging as drivers of learning help structure the digital open badge-driven learning process.

— The results of the study encourage application of gamification to professional teacher education as well as to vocational teachers’ continuing professional development. In addition, the results describe the impact of the competence-based approach in badge-driven professional development of vocational teachers, Brauer explains.

In her dissertation, Brauer defines the digital open badge-driven learning process as based on a badge constellation of competences. As an entity, badge-driven learning also encompasses learning materials, badge criteria, instructional badging, scaffolding and peer support.

— I found differences in the experiences of vocational in- and pre-service teachers, and these differences make it possible to develop vocational teachers’ competence development continuum, Brauer states.

The study offers insights into the process structure of digital open badge-driven learning and provides a layered model for application of the competence-based approach, digital open badges and gamification to professional development. In addition, the process approach brings to the fore the significance of customisation and personalisation of study paths in order to meet unique professional needs.

Application of multiple approaches during the research process made it possible to gain in-depth conceptual understanding of the subject and helped describe the relatively novel phenomenon and envision future education practices. The decision to use mixed research methodologies – qualitative content analysis, constrained correspondence analysis and phenomenography – is based on their descriptive nature. The study represents a bold and creative novel application of a statistical methodology in that it is the first study to apply constrained correspondence analysis (CCA) to the context of educational research.

Information on the defence

The public examination of M.Sci. Sanna Brauer’s doctoral dissertation Digital Open Badge-Driven Learning - Competence-based Professional Development for Vocational Teachers will take place at the University of Lapland’s Faculty of Education on Friday 18 January 2019 in the Lecture Hall 2 at 12:00 (noon). The opponent appointed for the examination is Professor Hanni Muukkonen-van der Meer from the University of Oulu, and Adjunct Professor Pirkko Siklander from the University of Lapland will act as the custos. After the public examination, a coffee reception will take place in the Restaurant Felli.

Follow the event live at: https://connect.eoppimispalvelut.fi/ktkvaitostilaisuus/

Information on the doctoral candidate

M.Sci. Sanna Brauer, formerly Lahdenperä, (born 1974), graduated from the Ii Upper Secondary School (Iin Lukio) in 1993. In 1997, she graduated as Master of Culture and Arts from the Tornio College of Art and Media and as a television director from the Tampere University of Applied Sciences. In 2002, Brauer qualified as vocational teacher of the HAMK School of Professional Teacher Education, and in 2006 she was awarded the degree of Master of Education (major subject Cultural Industry) from the University of Oulu.

Prior to this, Brauer had a long career at the Kouvola Theatre, then made a transition to provide training to future lighting professionals and, soon after that, to develop social media activities in different organizations. Since 1998, Brauer has been working as a teacher in vocational education, at universities of applied science and in the context of liberal adult education. Since 2011, Brauer has been working as a senior lecturer at Oulu University of Applied Sciences, School of Professional Teacher Education. She has been working as a coordinator and as an expert in digital pedagogy in numerous projects aiming to develop vocational education and training, and, moreover, she has been involved in various projects and national and international networks targeted at rethinking the diversifying professional development of teachers.

Additional information

Sanna Brauer
+358 400-444668

Information on the publication

Press copies of the thesis are available via julkaisut(at)ulapland.fi.

The publication is available at: http://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-952-337-110-1

Sanna Brauer. Digital Open Badge-Driven Learning Competence-based Professional Development for Vocational Teachers, Acta Universitatis Lapponiensis, 380. ISBN 978-952-337-109-5, ISSN 0788-7604. University of Lapland Printing Centre, Rovaniemi 2018. PDF: Acta electronica Universitatis Lapponiensis 247. ISBN 978-952-337-110-1, ISSN 0796-6310.