Posted on 27-May-19
Need to Learn More about Open Digital Badges?: Remember These 6 Words image

You may be familiar with the trends when it comes to learning.  

According to Bersin by Deloitte’s 2014 Meet the Modern Learner, a touchstone for many Talent Development (TD) professionals, the modern learner is overwhelmed, distracted, and impatient. According to Bersin, most learners have less than 1% of a typical workweek to focus on training and development.  Yet, the need for learning and rapid re-skilling is significantly increasing. According to the World Economic Forum’s 2018 Future of Jobs report, by 2022 everyone will need an extra 101 days of learning. 

As TD professionals, one way we can encourage more learning is by deploying technologies that engage and motivate while re-skilling the workforce.  Open Digital Badges (AKA Digital Micro-Credentials) offer an excellent opportunity to achieve these goals.  

My interest in Open Digital Badges (ODBs) was peaked after receiving several badges in conjunction with completing Future Workplace’s excellent AI4HR 5-week online course earlier this year.  I found the opportunity to receive badges for incremental learning and at the end of the course motivational. 

I was fortunate to receive a “crash course” in OBDs last week when I prepped for and attended the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET)’s Online Digital Badging Experience 1.0 (ODBX) program in Chicago.  IACET has taken a leadership role in setting standards for ODBs and recently developed ODBX 1.0 to educate TD professionals. ODBX 1.0 was a highly valuable program for understanding the digital badging landscape and how to get started. The "flipped classroom" approach allowed learners to truly make the most of the interactive, "live" session. The opportunity to share challenges and opportunities with the instructors and other learners was incredibly helpful.

Open Digital Badges are digital artifacts that conform to the open badge standard and are used to recognize learning accomplishments. Created as PNG or SVG files, ODBs are embedded with metadata that allows the viewer to quickly learn more about a credential. There are several popular platforms for digital badging including BadgrBadge ListAcclaimCredlyBadgeCert, and Accredible. Badgr has more than 30 million users worldwide and is the only platform that allows organizations to issue badges for free.  

If you have not yet had an opportunity to receive or issue an Open Digital Badge, here are 6 words to help you remember what makes ODBs different:

  1. Verifiable.  One unique aspect of ODBs is that they are verifiable.  The metadata embedded in ODBs allows the badge viewer to easily verify information such as completion criteria, evidence of completion, issue date, issuing organization, expiration date (if applicable), and endorsement of the trainer.  
  2. Portable.  ODBs are portable and can be stored in digital cloud-based “backpacks.”  Badgr offers the only “open” backpack that allows learners to collect and store badges issued by any platform.   Portability makes is easy for learners to track, share, and curate their learning.  In this way, ODBs can complement organizational efforts to foster employee-driven development.
  3. Shareable.  Unlike paper certificates which are static, ODBs can easily be shared on social media platforms (e.g. LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook) and embedded in electronic signature lines. Badge sharing increases visibility and recognition for issuing organizations and helps contribute to the overall badging ecosystem.
  4. Stackable.  Open Digital Badges are frequently used to recognize incremental progress toward learning or performance goals. In this way, ODBs can be thought of as "stackable" credentials. Badging also offers instructional designers the opportunity to create visual learning pathways, threading together what might otherwise be viewed as disparate learning.
  5. Systemic.  ODBs live within an ecosystem – one that includes learners, issuers, badging platforms, and those who view badges. When organizations issue badges that are valued by learners, HR professionals, and hiring managers, badges have meaning and create a new type of digital currency.  Creating high-quality badges and following the standards developed by IACET and IMS Global (the group responsible for metadata technical specification standards) positively contribute to the badging ecosystem.
  6. Evolving.  Akin to the introduction of the Internet in the mid-1990s, the Open Digital Badge landscape is still evolving.  While there have been some early adopters (e.g. Microsoft, IBM), many organizations are still determining how ODBs can best support their learning and development goals.  

Open Digital Badges represent a unique opportunity to support the needs of today's learners while preparing for the significant re-skilling that will be required in the years ahead.

Remember. OBDs are: Verifiable, Portable, Shareable, Stackable, Systemic, and Evolving.

Ready to learn more?

If you have been tasked with better understanding ODBs for your organization, there is a Badge Wiki with more information and definitions related to digital badges. IACET's Badging Taxonomy is also an excellent tool for thinking through different badge types and stackable credentials.


By Susan Camberis, republished with Permission. The original post can be found here.

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