Digital badges offer students the opportunity to pave their own learning pathways and allow employers to verify necessary workforce skills, a new report from the Alliance for Excellent Education and Mozilla finds. The report, Expanding Education and Workforce Opportunities Through Digital Badges, explores digital badges and how they can be used to improve student learning and outcomes, as well as expand vocational and interest-based skills for learners of all ages.
“Digital badges are making anytime, anywhere learning a reality for learners of all ages who want to pursue their interests with tangible results in real time,” said Bob Wise, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education and former governor of West Virginia. “Badges bridge the divide between formal and informal education, and they have the power to transform competency-based learning and hiring practices.”
Expanding Education and Workforce Opportunities Through Digital Badges defines badges as “credentials that represent skills, interests, and achievements earned by an individual through specific projects, programs, courses, or other activities.” A credible badge stores information online—through a digital hyperlink—about the associated skills, as well as what projects and tasks the badge holder completed to obtain it. Mozilla created an “Open Badges” standard that establishes an environment of credibility and verifiable skills surrounding the issuance and receiving of badges.
“The way we learn and the way we work have radically changed in today’s digital age, and we need the credentials that make sense for the way we live our lives today,” said Erin Knight, senior director of learning and badges at Mozilla. “Open Badges can connect learners to better jobs and opportunities, allowing them to increase skillsets and marketability. In return, employers can look beyond abstract credentials or self-reported resumes and get credible information on candidates—finding a better match, and unlocking a better future for all involved.”
The report argues that it is critical to have an open badge standard that ensures that all badges contain the same information, including criteria and evidence, and allows individuals to earn badges across various issuers, manage them in a collection, and display them across the web.
Organizations, K–12 schools, and institutes of higher education can create digital badges for various skills and competencies, the report explains. For the purpose of learning institutions, badges can convey a student’s core academic-content knowledge, as well as other twenty-first-century competencies, such as critical thinking, communication, and collaboration.
Schools and districts are starting to leverage badges, not only to connect in-school and out-of-school learning, but also as a way to facilitate learning in more innovative and engaging ways, the report finds.
“Learning pathways differ from student to student, but badges can bridge those differences and provide students with opportunities to follow their interests, and connect what they have learned—at any time and place—to academic achievement, career success, and civic engagement,” Wise said.
The full report is available here.