4 steps to bolstering digital badges in higher education

By Ron Bethke
December 10th, 2015

As the demand for digital badges increases, so does the need for policies and processes surrounding them.

digital-badge-steps“Digital badges allow students to turn competencies and achievements to marketable credentials,” said Susan Manning, professor at the University of Wisconsin-Stout. Yet, unless clearly defined management processes are put into place, this potential may not be realized.

This was the main discussion part of a recent panel, “Digital Badges in Higher Education,” hosted by The New Media Consortium, which not only stressed the importance of students earning more digital badges for employment, but what must be done to help propel the digital badge and credentialing movement.

“Digital Badges in Higher Education” was the latest webinar in the NMC Beyond the Horizon series, and featured insight from moderator Jonathan Finkelstein, founder and CEO of Credly, Susan Manning, a teacher at the University of Wisconsin, Stout, and Diane Singer, the Curriculum Developer and Project Manager at Brandman University.

Making the Case

Panelists, which also included Jonathan Finkelstein, founder and CEO of Credly, and Diane Singer, the Curriculum Developer and Project Manager at Brandman University, said that many people have more skills and talents than the typically opaque college transcript gives them credit for, often rendering the college transcript all but useless after a person has been in the workforce for awhile. Finkelstein estimated that more than 90 percent of skills gained in the workforce do not make it onto a resume or transcript.

Panelists made sure to emphasize that rather than being some fleeting trend, demand for verified skills and credentials is real and growing. Currently, 1 in 4 adults have an alternative credential of some sort, and panelists mentioned research showing those with digital certifications generally receive 6 times as many profile views on social media job sites like LinkedIn.

Additionally, the availability of alternative credentials will double over the next 5 years, they agreed. At least 400 institutions reportedly have competency-based digital badge programs in development, which would bring the total to about 750 in 5 years.

(Next page: Outlining a digital badge “Management Lifecycle”)

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