Blog Post

Future of Higher Ed: Credentials & Badging, Part 2. Be Prepared with Skills Badges

by | January 22nd, 2018

Badging is an Ideal Way to Prove Skills and Experience to Employers

The concept of a badge is a very deep-rooted one; everyone is familiar with merit badges from Scouting. Badges are bite-sized visual representations that denote evidence of skills and experience. In the world of higher education, badging is becoming a sophisticated technology to verify learning.

The Recent Developments in Micro-Credentials & Badging in Higher Education

Open Badges are a relatively new technology standard for recognizing and documenting student learning. Beginning with Mozilla’s Open Badge Project in 2011-12, and with help from the MacArthur Foundation, a standard for badges as digital micro-credentials emerged. By 2013, over 1,450 organizations were issuing badges worldwide.

Since then, the Open Badge initiative has passed to IMS Global, the international organization responsible for advancing open-source interoperability and innovation among educational software offerings. Providers who want to use Open Badges must develop their tools so that they are compliant with the Open Badge Standard presented by IMS Global. When compliant, badges can be exchanged between platforms.

The use of this technology is becoming more widespread and sophisticated; platforms designed to store badge evidence and manage the wide range of related processes for both individual users and organizations have emerged. Among these is MyMantl™, launched in December 2017 by Chalk & Wire. Designed to be Open Badge 2.0 compliant, this application takes the badging process even further with tools designed to streamline the creation of badge icons and “badge paths” for organizations. MyMantl also allows users to display and share awarded credentials. Enhancing the process even more, MyMantl badges can be automatically awarded via integration with Chalk & Wire’s ePortfolio-enabled Assessment Technology Platform, CWPro.

Why are Badging & Credentialing Important in Higher Education?

Open Badges are a collection of clear, trustworthy icons representing the knowledge and skills of the badge owner. Open Badges are awarded by a verified organization based upon observed performance. This is quite different from the traditional transcript which is focused on courses and grades. Badging invites educational institutions to scaffold their offered student learning experiences into smaller chunks with relevant criteria articulated; criteria have either been demonstrated or not.

The presence of a badge presumes a level of competence of the badge owner.  This solves the opaque problem of the traditional transcript – degrees, courses attended, and grades that have highly arguable levels of performance. What does a B+ or 76% really mean in terms of actionable behavior? It is far more likely that a customized badge collection sent in response to a job posting can be laid alongside the needs of an employer and matched with far less guesswork and far more trust.

The Anatomy of Higher Education Badging

Badges are digital micro-credentials that represent a single skill, a set of skills or a learning experience. Embedded within each secure badge is the meta-data which is the details about what it took to earn the badge and the context in which it was awarded. The awarding organization, the “verified” issuer, stands behind the badge.

The life of a learner is a complex web of connected experiences and skills. The ubiquitous two-page resume does little truly describe the abilities of the learner. There is no way in a flat text document to highlight unique skills, abilities or experiences. A collection of badges lets the learner showcase their accomplishments, knowledge and skills and have them endorsed by legitimate professionals.

So, how can badging make higher education better?

  1. Evidence of Skills & Experience

Badges aren’t just pretty pictures. They communicate who issued the badge, what the criteria were, and what goals and standards are linked to it. All of it is digitally signed to verify its authenticity. The learner can also attach evidence that can more deeply illustrate their competence.

  1. Range and Depth

No longer limited to common official credentials, badges can build upon one another in a portfolio to tell the full story of a learner’s skills, talents and accomplishments.

  1. Multi-Platform Portability & Accessibility

Open Badges can be imported/exported and displayed in a variety of platforms (assuming they are OB 2.0 certified) while still maintaining all that useful information stored inside.

Open Badging is a key part of a solution to the nagging challenge facing both higher education and employers; Chalk & Wire views this as a credentialing crisis. Ideally, badging will help learners to view their formal education as part of a life-long continuum of skills acquisition and documentation.

Find out more about MyMantl, which takes a page from the scouting guidebook by illuminating and authenticating students’ learning skills and experience.

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