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Aspirational Indicators and Metrics of Success for Education (AIMS4Ed) is an embryonic project to provide alternative metrics for the success of education systems - with a particular focus on schools.

This extends the work on ICT enabled assessment - going beyond traditional ways of assessing learners. See [Assessment|the assessment page]] for more info.

Share your views on what alternative indicators of successful education might look like by editing this page and/or contributing to the related discussions ...

Indicators and Metrics[edit]

Ok so I admit it, when I came up with the acronym AIMS4Ed I didn't really think hard about the difference between an Indicator and a Metric. Luckily they are different and do reflect two important facets of assessment - the need to be able to measure success (metrics) and the need to be able to (publicly) recognise success (indicators).

Simplistically, we could argue that an exam such as a GCSE allows you to measure success (in learning the stuff specified in the syllabus for that exam) and the exam certificate gives recognition of that success (in the form of a grade on a bit of paper, backed up by a record of your grade at the exam board). So the exam provides the metrics and the certificate is the indicator.

Of course there are lots of different ways of measuring success (other than exams). You could, for example, demonstrate your ability to do something (e.g. play a specific piece of music on the piano) - indeed music qualifications are based on that very model. You could also make a record (or should I say audio recording) which lots of people like and are willing to pay for, which would be another way of measuring success.

There are also lots of different ways of giving recognition of success - so you could get a certificate, or a badge, or lots of money (from the sale of downloads of your music), or a trophy, or have your work published in a peer-reviewed journal.


Badges have been around for a long time - whether as stripes on an army uniform or on the sleeve of a boy-scout's or girl guide's shirt.

You can also get digital badges - replacing a piece of paper or patch of material with a digital image. Thus, for example, within the Schommunity you could get digital badges (which the Schommunity members called Barnstars) in recognition of your contributions to the Schommunity - find out more about the Schommunity Barnstars .... Of course the problem with these particular digital badges is that anyone could take a copy of the image of one of these barnstars and claim to have been awarded it. So there is an issue about the confidence one can have in the image as an indicator of evidence that someone actually has achieved whatever it is that the badge claims they have achieved. This was less of a problem with traditional badges because it was harder to copy them.

Open badges attempt to overcome this problem by integrating meta-data into the badge, which links you out to details about what the badge is for, what you have to do to earn it, who it has been issued by, when it was issued, and the evidence that you have actually met the criteria. Thus, open badges merge the metrics and the indicator in one package.

Open badges are based on a technical infrastructure and open standards that allows them to be shared across websites (whilst maintaining not only the badge image but also the metadata). That infrastructure is open source and free for anyone to use. An important part of the infrastructure relates to what are called 'backpacks' which are places where an individual can store their badges and chose whether or not to make the visible to others. Another useful aspect of open badges is that you can combine them - allowing small achievements to cumulate and become substantial achievements. As open badges can be awarded for anything - it is up to the issuer to define the criteria for earning the badge - they open up opportunities for recognising all sorts of attributes, competences, or achievements that more traditional approaches to assessment miss out.

Find out more about open badges ...

Sign up to Open Badges 101 - a short course on open badges (and earn your first open badge! (Seems like a great way to really engage with and understand the concept and how it works in practice).


Points of Learning (PoL) is an alternative approach to capturing data about people's performance over time. The original idea for PoL came from Imagine Education. I have been working with Jonty Rix and Kieron Sheehy (both profs at the OU) to explore the theoretical underpinnings for PoL and to refine the approach.

We are currently working on a paper about PoL which will be published (we hope) in the Autumn 2016.


The Alternative League Table for Schools (ALT4S) is an embryonic project looking at the development of a set of metrics for measuring the subjective well-being of a community (e.g. staff and students in a school) which could then feed into an alternative league table based on the subjective well-being of school communities.

Find out more about ALT4S