Is your college part of the the 21st Century Skills Badges initiative?

The 21st Century Skills Badges initiative, from Education Design Lab, is based on three years of research, design, and pilots and offers a suite of eight digital badges, often called microcredentials, along with a facilitator’s toolkit, to help educators and employers understand the skills students have cultivated.

Education Design Lab partnered with 12 universities and 50 employers to develop the badges. Students can display them on LinkedIn accounts or resumes.

Employers say they have an increasingly difficult time finding highly-qualified applicants for job openings, particularly in STEM fields such as computer science. The digital badges are designed to be “machine readable” by search algorithms recruiters use to identify potential job candidates.…Read More

How to do micro-credentialing and digital badging the right way

Employers today are far less reliant on the four-year college degree than in the past, when the B.A. or B.S. served as a primary pre-hire indicator of future performance. Today, the bachelor’s degree is virtually a commodity. According to an analysis by Burning Glass Technologies, degrees are now to be found among the qualifications of workers in jobs that rarely demanded such a level of education. Clerks, service workers, and assistants are now almost “required” to be degreed.

Since virtually all candidates come with a degree, companies must find other ways to identify the best candidates—the ones with the skills to do the job. Some employers have even worked to identify specific institutions that reliably turn out graduates with grit, which is quite apart from factors like grades, majors, and transcripts.

This ongoing hunt to develop better metrics to identify the most desirable candidates has driven employers to look to institutions that highlight these transferable (and often non-academic) skills and showcase them in a common currency, i.e., the digital credential.…Read More

Why academic assessment is poised for a scientific revolution

In 1906, Englishman J. J. Thompson challenged the scientific community’s understanding of the atom with his “plum pudding” theory. The model ultimately led to scientific evidence of the first subatomic particle, the electron. Thompson and subsequent pioneers of subatomic theory proved a powerful point: changing the unit of measurement can radically alter how we engage with the natural world.

Contrast this scientific revolution with our experience in the dynamic and changing world of higher education. For too long, higher education has relied on 19th-century definitions and measures to solve for 21st-century needs. The yardstick of academic progress—the transcript—has been the instrument to measure all learning that takes place during a student’s journey.

Students, families, and employers have serious doubts about the value of higher education—doubts that may be well-founded. Far too many students are exiting higher learning without the skills employers and society demand. One survey found that 87 percent of recent graduates felt well-prepared for jobs and careers after earning their diplomas, but only half of hiring managers agreed with them.…Read More

Is it time to shake up traditional learning, employment pathways?

Traditional learning-to-employment pathways are becoming a thing of the past, and educators and employers should instead focus on supporting competency-based approaches to education, training and hiring.

The case for a different focus comes from Innovate+Educate, a national nonprofit that works to create new employment pathways.

The nonprofit released a new paper that makes the case for competency-based education. Shift Happens: The Entrepreneurs, Wonks, and Investors Revolutionizing the Learning-to-Employment Landscape examines the challenges facing employers and the players working to close the skills gap through new models of learning and hiring.…Read More

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…Read More

Going beyond a degree with digital badges, social media

Digital badges have proven a divisive topic in higher ed.

When LinkedIn, the social network for professionals, announced last week that it was adding pages for universities and lowering the age requirement to allow teenagers on the site, the decision was met with an equal mix of excitement and trepidation from technologists and educators.

But one of the most negative appraisals came from Colin Mathews, the chief executive officer of a platform called Merit.

“I admire LinkedIn,” Mathews wrote in a blog post. “But their recently announced University Pages are going to be a bust because they’re designed to solve LinkedIn’s business model problems, not problems that universities or students have.”…Read More

Digital badges threaten colleges’ monopoly on credentials

Applicant A’s résumé shows an associate degree in business. By taking community college classes, studying online, and learning on the job, Applicant B has earned “digital badges” in product design, marketing, business writing, sales, bookkeeping, leadership, mentoring and teamwork. Who gets the job? Asks U.S. News. Badges aren’t just for Boy Scouts–or video game enthusiasts–anymore. The Mozilla Foundation; the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation; and the Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Advanced Collaboratory (HASTAC) have created a $2 million Digital Media and Learning Competition to encourage the development of digital badges that recognize lifelong learners’ knowledge and skills. The first set of winners in the teaching category were announced Jan. 12…

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