Top Five Areas of Growth in Badges for Higher Education

Woman measuring progress of a project

Last year, I participated in a webinar about badging that was hosted by the Chronicle of Higher Education. There were so many questions at the end that we created a blog post to answer as many as we could. Since then there has been a tremendous amount of development, attention, and adoption by higher education institutions and by groups interested in workforce skill gaps. The confluence of college and careers is where badge discussions and plans are the hottest. Here are a few observations about the areas where we are hearing about the most activity:

1. Continuing and professional education programs are beginning to embrace badges. Digital credentials that represent program-level competencies are growing as a way to signal specialized work skill sets to employers. Colleges with close ties to local employers — particularly small and medium size businesses — are using badges as the rosetta stone to decode skill gaps on the local and regional level.

2. Workforce development initiatives are beginning to use badges. Groups like the California Community Colleges are using badges to represent sub-degree program certificates for job training programs like entry-level office worker, entry-level advanced skilled trades worker, and other areas. Some groups proposing novel approaches to apprenticeships are considering how badges will add an extra dimension for their program participants. And experiential education programs – from clinical internships to co-op studies – are beginning to use badges to represent their program outcomes.

3. Global brands with training and certification programs are backing digital badges as the vehicle to help their their industry-qualified workers communicate their certified skills to the jobs marketplace, including Adobe, Autodesk, Citrix, Microsoft, IBM, ISACA, HRCI, The Institute for Internal Auditors, Training Industry, and many others.

4. The national press continues to identify the potential that digital credentials in the form of badges represent. Very recently Kevin Carey posted a new article in the NY Times about the disruptive and transformative impact that digital credentials are having on the traditional college degree landscape.

5. Influential groups including the American Council on Education and the IT Certification Council have formed study groups designed to evaluate the potential of digital badges and make recommendations back to their member organizations. In the long run, the work of these and similar organizations has the greatest potential for widespread systemic change.



Editor’s Note: Peter will be speaking at the 95th annual American Association of Community Colleges, April 19, 2015, about how schools can use web-enabled badges to increase retention, improve transparency, and communicate job-readiness to employers. Read more about the event and his session at our AACC webpage.

In case you want to learn a bit more about the power of badges, view an infographic that outlines how they work.


About the Author
Peter Janzow

Peter Janzow

Peter Janzow is a Business Development Manager in support of Acclaim, an enterprise class badging platform backed by Pearson. Peter has actively contributed to education for many years in roles that include executive management, global market development and entrepreneurship for educational publishing and technology companies.

With a  keen interest in STEM education, Peter continues to work actively in the fields of workforce development, professional credentialing, and engineering education. He is a former Director of the American Society for Engineering Education and has been with Pearson for a total of 18 years over the span of his career.