Digital badges are at the confluence of exhibiting achievements and digital credentials. To understand what digital badges are, let’s look at the dilemmas faced by Kareem and Sara.
Case # 1: Kareem’s shorthand at formal education
Kareem is a sixteen-year-old who loves robots and sci-fi movies but struggles to perform in school. Though he is naturally developing relevant skills and interest through informal learning modes – learned to storyboard, making short films with friends, attended digital media workshops, mentored kids younger to him – he has nothing to show for his achievements, but for some trophies.
Case #2: Sara’s unrecognized skills
Sara is an eighteen-year-old web developer. She started building websites ever since she was thirteen and got her first computer. Over time, she has honed her skills and knowledge. On the insistence of her mother, she takes up university-level courses of similar interest. The problem is she isn’t finding her classes challenging. Her skillset is already beyond what is being taught at the university. She has also taken up open education courses on new technologies. However, she doesn’t have anything to put on her resume, which is becoming difficult for her to get high-paying jobs par her skills.
These are some of the many real-world problems digital badging was invented to solve. It does so by creating a world, which gives inhabitants the freedom to create their own interests, learning styles and collect solid evidence to show for their skills and knowledge.
Now that you have the philosophical idea behind digital badging, let’s answer some specific questions about it to give you a quick tour of their concept and its usage.
- What are digital badges?
Some circles use the term “digital badges” as a catchall term for all digital credentials. It is wrong. Digital badges are a subset of digital credentials. They lie at the intersection of achievements and digital credentials, with former comprising certificates, diplomas, degrees, and latter including User ID, Credit Cards, Website Security Certificate, among others. In nutshell, they serve as the digital proof of your learning or achievement.
- How did the concept come about?
Digital badging was first talked of in 2011 in a paper co-authored by Peer 2 Peer University and The Mozilla Foundation, in collaboration with The MacArthur Foundation. The two case scenarios discussed above are borrowed from the same paper.
The paper highlighted one vital fact about digital badges, i.e. the information that a digital badge carry is far crucial than its design. The information is the key and serves as the justification & validation of the badge, which in-turn act as a hallmark of an individual’s prowess in specific areas.
Essentially, digital badges are a part of a larger movement to show completion in degrees, certificates, and experiences gained through formal routes.
- Where are digital badges used?
Though in their nascent phase, digital badges are being used for higher stakes accomplishments, which is generally preceded by a rigorous examination, as well as low stake tasks, like going through a training program, attending a hackathon.
- How does this tech actually work?
Every digital badge comes with a unique web address that can be shared electronically on social media, email, or be displayed on a profile. Inside a digital badge, metadata gives out information about:
- Name of the badge
- Badge Image
- Badge Description
- Criteria of allotment
- Earner’s Name
- Issue Date
- Issue Name
- Description of the Issuer
- How does digital badging benefit?
A badge helps you formalize your skills and knowledge, and gain recognition for them which might otherwise go unnoticed. Also, digital badges provide enhanced credibility to one’s commitment to development as a professional. To top it all, digital badges can be shared instantly on a profile, or across digital communications. To this avail, a recent LinkedIn study shows that profiles with certifications and badges are viewed six times more than an average profile.
Presence, usage, and legitimacy of digital badges are on the rise as more organizations enter online to offer their expertise.
Author: Ariaa Reeds