Digital Badging – What’s It All About?

Digital badges

Digital Badging – What’s it All About?

We received the following comment on last week’s blog post titled Observations from the Auditor General’s Fall Report:

“The demand for ethical, honest, diligent capable LEADERS is vital to Canada’s future.
A national appraisal system assessing the ‘soft’ essentials would drive some to live and lead according to such criteria! Governments could actually screen for these as well as for all other diversity characteristics.”

What a national appraisal system might look like and how it would work could be the subject of an interesting debate amongst leaders from Canada’s public, private and not-for-profit sectors. However, there is an emerging and fairly well-advanced concept worth considering. The concept? Digital Badging.

What is Digital Badging?

If you were ever a Scout or Girl Guide, you were probably happy to earn badges. These badges were a symbol of an accomplishment, demonstrating a skill or achievement in an area of interest.

Now carry this concept forward to the idea of a digital badge, which is an online demonstration of a skill or achievement you have earned. Digital badges can be issued by anyone, demonstrating an achievement of skills in limitless areas. However, there needs to be some credibility around the process.

Enter Open Badges. The concept of Open Badges originated with the Mozilla Foundation in 2010 in a white paper called Open Badges for Lifelong Learning written by Erin Knight with collaborators from Peer2Peer University and the MacArthur Foundation. The Open Badges Infrastructure developed by Mozilla can be used by any organization or community wanting to issue badges backed by their own seal of approval. Learners can collect badges from different sources and display them across the web – on resumes, websites, social networking profiles, job sites and more.

The Evolution of Open Badges

Highlights from the evolution of Open Badges.

  • The Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) was established by President Bill Clinton in 2005 to engage global and emerging leaders to create and implement solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges. In 2013 at the CGI, President Clinton announced a commitment to massively expand access to Open Badges, to improve the futures of 2 million of students and U.S. workers. By the following year, this goal was exceeded, and a new commitment was made to improve the futures for 10 million more
  • Moving ahead to 2014-15, large corporations including IBM and Microsoft began to adopt Open Badges. Now millions of Open Badges have been awarded to thousands of recipients.
  • In early 2017, IMS Global Learning Consortium, the world’s leading open standards consortium for education technology, in partnership with the Mozilla Foundation and Collective Shift/LRNG, agreed to become the organization responsible for managing the effort to advance the development, transferability and market adoption of the Open Badges specification and community. IMS Global is a non-profit member organization whose mission is to advance technology that can affordably scale and improve educational participation and attainment.

A Digital Badge that Demonstrates Leadership Skills

An example of a digital badge comes from Leadercast. Leadercast partnered with Kennesaw State University to create an online, self-paced leadership education program. Upon completion, you can obtain the digital badge depicted below demonstrating Leadership Excellence.

Leadercast Digital Badge

Another organization at the forefront of competency assessment and digital badging is Lipscomb University. Lipscomb utilizes the Polaris® Assessment System in its CORE Program (customized, outcome based relevant education) to measure 15 competencies in areas such as leadership, communication and management. The Polaris® Competency Model has been in existence for 35 years and is used by organizations such as Disney, Wendy’s and Nike. A key component of Lipscomb’s CORE program is a digital recognition badge system that rates and demonstrates a participant’s level of competency.

The above are existing examples of how digital badging is a mechanism that could enable people to demonstrate essential soft skills, such as leadership. Digital badging also allows organizations to assess the people they engage possess essential skills. It will be interesting to continue to watch the evolution of digital badging as traditional ways of learning continue to rapidly change.

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Francis Liska
CEO OTUS Group | OTUS Group
Francis is a Chartered Professional Accountant, Certified General Accountant, Certified Information Systems Auditor, Certified Internal Control Auditor and a Certified Management Consultant. He holds a degree in Business Administration from Cape Breton University and a Post Graduate Diploma in Applied Information Technology. He has also completed graduate studies in decision analysis at Carleton University.

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