Badges, credit, and accreditation in online education

Digital badges represent a new, innovative mechanism for verifying achievement and attainment of pre-specified skills and competencies.

Badges shouldn’t be reserved for mastery of a subject.

As we’ve been learning during the “Badges: New Currency for Professional Credentials” MOOC co-sponsored by WCET, many postsecondary institutions are considering, even preparing to implement, badges within academic programs and for faculty development.

As these institutions and others contemplating using badges evaluate the suitability of badges for their programs, questions come up about how badges might be encompassed within an institution’s accreditation.

Read more about digital badges in higher education…
MOOC to explore digital badges’ role in online learning

Badges acknowledge that learning happens everywhere and anywhere. Badge issuers can be education providers, employers, community organizations, even individuals. By displaying the badges they have earned, badge holders can provide proof of learning even if they don’t have a school transcript to support their assertion.

This enables postsecondary institutions to provide credit for prior learning to students and staff alike.

Badges are awarded when evidence-based assessment establishes that the badge seeker has attained clearly articulated competencies. In other words,

badges represent what a badge holder can do, not just what someone remembers. Further, the “doing” must be proven, not merely asserted.

Unlike degrees, badges don’t need only to represent mastery. Badges can also acknowledge skills and abilities that lead up to mastery. This granularity supports stackable credentials that allow institutions to take a modular approach to curriculum design, with badges for core competencies providing a cross-curricular foundation.

These are also the very reasons that badges challenge the way accreditation is currently designed and how it currently functions.

See Page 2 for a look at the future of competency-based credits in online courses…

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