Badging: Not Quite the Next Big Thing
While badging and digital credentialing are gaining acceptance in the business world and, to some extent, higher education, K-12 educators — and even students — are slower to see the value.
By Michael Hart 07/20/16
That’s when the MacArthur Foundation highlighted the winning projects of its Badges for Lifelong Learning competition at the Digital Media and Learning Conference in Chicago. The competition, co-sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Mozilla Foundation, had attracted nearly 100 competitors a year earlier. The winners shared $2 million worth of development grants.
Evidence of Lifelong Learning
A digital badge or credential is a validation, via technology, that a person has earned an accomplishment, learned a skill or gained command of specific content. Typically, it is an interactive image posted on a web page and connected to a certain body of information that communicates the badge earner’s competency.
Credly is a company that offers off-the-shelf credentialing and badging for organizations, companies and educational institutions. One of its projects, BadgeStack, which has since been renamed BadgeOS, was a winner in the 2013 MacArthur competition. Virtually any individual or organization can use its platform to determine criteria for digital credentials and then award them, often taking advantage of an open-source tool like WordPress. The credential recipient can then use the BadgeOS platform to manage the use of the credential, choosing to display badges on social media profiles or uploading achievements to a digital resume, for instance.
Finkelstein and others see, with the persistently growing interest in competency-based education (CBE), that badging is a way to assess and document competency.
Colorado Education Initiative, (see webinar report in this IMS blog http://blog.stcloudstate.edu/ims/2016/06/20/colorados-digital-badging-initiative/)
There are obstacles, though, to universal acceptance of digital credentialing.
For one, not every community, company or organization sees a badge as something of value.
When a player earns points for his or her success in a game, those points have no value outside of the environment in which the game is played. For points, badges, credentials — however you want to define them — to be perceived as evidence of competency, they have to have portability and be viewed with value outside of their own environment.
More on badges in this IMS blog: