Challenges and Issues: A Conversation Regarding Micro-Credentials
Alternative Credentials are important to the future of understanding cradle-to-career opportunities in Professional Education. Institutions interested in considering the use of micro-credentialing face many challenges and issues. This session will be presented from the perspective of panelists who are dealing with the issues and challenges of alternative credentials. The panelists will suggest pathways for institutions to consider as they work toward cradle-to-career opportunities.
Janet Staker Woemer, University of Wisconsin
Linda Kingston, Winona State University
Patricia Cook, University of Arizona
Asim Ali, Auburn University
Jacqui Williams, University of Melbourne
Moderator: Ray Schroeder, University of Illinois Springfield
We are exploring the very same topic. We have been using Credly for the past year or so to give badges to faculty who complete courses in a 3 course series we developed for effective online teaching.
That said, we are a Canvas school and, as we explore our own pilot program, are looking at Badgr’s badging solution (which is free to use, at least for Canvas, maybe all though?) as well as their Pathway’s solution for stacking badges and providing a view of that badge path for participants.
It’s is all very early stage but those are the two platforms and vendors we have focused our time currently.
Such non-degree credentials have been growing in popularity.
“We do have a little bit of a Wild West situation right now with alternative credentials,” said Alana Dunagan, a senior research fellow at the nonprofit Clayton Christensen Institute, which researches education innovation. The U.S. higher education system “doesn’t do a good job of separating the wheat from the chaff.”
Thousands of credentials classes aimed at improving specific skills have cropped up outside of traditional colleges. Some classes are boot camps, including those popular with computer coders. Others are even more narrowly focused, such as courses on factory automation and breastfeeding. Colleges and universities have responded by adding non-degree programs of their own.
some 4,000 colleges and other providers issue industry certifications, according to the Lumina Foundation, but fewer than one in 10 are reviewed by a regulatory body or accreditor.
That companies need trained employees is uncontested: More than three-quarters of U.S. manufacturers told the National Association of Manufacturers this year that they had trouble finding and keeping skilled workers.
Despite those hiring and retention concerns, industry appears reluctant to discuss the topic of policing new credentials. The National Association of Manufacturers declined to answer questions.
“If an organization wants to grant a badge, there’s nothing stopping them from doing that,” Richardson said. “It’s important for consumers to do their due diligence.”
Badging programs are rapidly gaining momentum in higher education – join us to learn how to get your badging efforts off the ground.
Key Considerations: Assessment of Competencies
During this session, you will learn how to ask the right questions and evaluate if badges are a good fit within your unique institutional context, including determining ROI on badging efforts. You’ll also learn how to assess the competencies behind digital badges.
Key Technology Considerations
This session will allow for greater understanding of Open Badges standards, the variety of technology software and platforms, and the portability of badges. We will also explore emerging trends in the digital badging space and discuss campus considerations.
Key Financial Considerations
During this hour, we will take a closer look at answering key financial questions surrounding badges:
What does the business model look like behind existing institutional badging initiatives?
Are these money-makers for an institution? Is there revenue potential?
Where does funding for these efforts come from?
Partnering with Industry
Badging can be a catalyst for partnerships between higher education and industry. In this session, you will have the opportunity to learn more about strategies for collaborating with industry in the development of badges and how badges align with employer expectations.
Branding and Marketing Badges
Now that we have a better idea of the “why” and “what” of badges, how do we market their value to external and internal stakeholders? You’ll see examples of how other institutions are designing and marketing their badges.
Alongside your peers and our expert instructors, you will have the opportunity to brainstorm ideas, get feedback, ask questions, and get answers.
Next Steps and the Road Ahead: Where Badging in Higher Ed is Going
Most institutions are getting into the badging game, and we’ll talk about the far-reaching considerations in the world of badging. We’ll use this time to engage in forward-thinking and discuss the future of badging and what future trends in badging might be.
While employers increasingly demand that new hires have college degrees, the transcripts supporting those hard-earned credentials are no longer the most informative tool students have to exhibit their skills.
An estimated 1 in 5 institutions issue digital badges, which can be posted to social media, stored on digital portfolios and displayed by other specially designed platforms. When clicked on, the badge lists a range of skills a student has demonstrated beyond grades.
“The reason they’re taking off in higher education is most employers are not getting the information they need about people emerging from higher ed, with previous tools we’ve been using,” says Jonathan Finkelstein, founder and CEO of the widely used badging platform Credly. “The degree itself doesn’t get to level of describing particular competencies.”
For instance, a Notre Dame student who goes on a trip to Ecuador to build bridges can earn a badge for mastering the calculations involved in the construction, says G. Alex Ambrose, associate program director of e-portfolio assessment at the Indiana university’s Kaneb Center for Teaching & Learning.
Students can be pretty certain when they have passed calculus or creative writing, but they don’t always recognize when they’ve excelled in demonstrating soft skills such as critical thinking, communication and work ethic, says MJ Bishop, director of the system’s William E. Kirwan Center for Academic Innovation.
Badges have been most popular in the school of education—including with student teachers who, in turn, have created badges for the elementary and secondary classrooms where they’ve apprenticed, says Anna Catterson, the university’s educational technology director.
The campus library is another badging hotspot. Students there have earned microcredentials for research, 3D printing and other skills. These badges are being shared on LinkedIn and other platforms to obtain internships and scholarships.
The university runs faculty training sessions on badging and has established a review process for when faculty submit ideas for microcredentials.
One pothole to avoid is trying to create a schoolwide badge that’s standardized across a wide range of courses or majors. This can force the involvement of committees that can bog down the process, so it’s better to start with skills within single courses, says Ambrose at Notre Dame.
When creating a badge, system faculty have to identify a business or industry interested in that credential.
Badges that have the backing of a college or university are more impressive to job recruiters than are completion certificates from skill-building websites like Lynda.com.
Students won’t be motivated to earn a badge that’s a stock blue ribbon downloaded off the internet. Many institutions put a lot work into the design, and this can include harnessing expertise from the marketing department and graphic designers
and learn the strategies and processes that other institutions have used to develop digital badge initiatives and programs. You’ll learn the different ways that badges can add value to the learner experience, key considerations for developing badges, and how to effectively connect learners to industry.
The main thing distinguishing a blockchain from a normal database is that there are specific rules about how to put data into the database. That is, it cannot conflict with some other data that’s already in the database (consistent), it’s append-only (immutable), and the data itself is locked to an owner (ownable), it’s replicable and available. Finally, everyone agrees on what the state of the things in the database are (canonical) without a central party (decentralized).
It is this last point that really is the holy grail of blockchain. Decentralization is very attractive because it implies there is no single point of failure.
The Cost of Blockchains
Development is stricter and slower
Incentive structures are difficult to design
Maintenance is very costly
Users are sovereign
All upgrades are voluntary
Scaling is really hard
Centralization is a lot easier
Like it or not, the word “blockchain” has taken on a life of its own. Very few people actually understand what it is, but want to appear hip so use these words as a way to sound more intelligent. Just like “cloud” means someone else’s computer and “AI” means a tweaked algorithm, “blockchain” in this context means a slow, expensive database.“blockchain” is really just a way to get rid of the heavy apparatus of government regulation. This is overselling what blockchain can do. Blockchain doesn’t magically take away human conflict.
So what is blockchain good for?
Most industries require new features or upgrades and the freedom to change and expand as necessary. Given that blockchains are hard to upgrade, hard to change and hard to scale, most industries don’t have much use for a blockchain. a lot of companies looking to use the blockchain are not really wanting a blockchain at all, but rather IT upgrades to their particular industry. This is all well and good, but using the word “blockchain” to get there is dishonest and overselling its capability.