9 reasons why badges are better than degrees

Digital badge proponents say traditional degrees are too flawed for the 21st Century

digital-badge-degreeThere’s nothing quite hotter at the moment on the higher-ed front than alternative credentialing, and proponents, who once said that digital badges are great ‘supplements’ to a traditional degree, are quickly changing their opinions—arguing that digital badges are a better alternative.

(Read: “Going beyond a degree with digital badges, social media.”)

“Many degrees are only loosely linked to employability after graduation,” explains a new report by Pearson, “Open Badges for Higher Education.” Increasingly, the degree itself is not as critical as the skill set behind it.

And though Pearson is currently going to market with an independent business called Acclaim—a scalable enterprise-class badging platform, built on Mozilla’s open standards and designed for awarding and tracking verifiable credentials—with more than 20.8 million students enrolled in noncredit programs, it’s no surprise that the education world is excited about the latest trend in alternative credentialing: open badges.

Though many perceive badges as a threat to traditional higher education, many institutions are now using badges to combat negative press on higher-ed, citing data provided by badges on students’ acquired skills.

“For higher-ed institutions interested in keeping pace [e.g. Purdue University, Seton Hall University, SUNY Empire State College, Carnegie Mellon University, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne, University of Illinois at Chicago, University of Southern California, and Wheeling Jesuit University, et cetera], establishing a digital ecosystem around badges to recognize college learning, skill development, and achievement is less of a threat and more an opportunity, notes the report.

“Used properly, badge-based systems help motivate, connect, articulate and make transparent the learning that happened inside and outside classrooms during a student’s college years,” the report emphasizes.

(Next page: 10 problems with diplomas and traditional accreditation)

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