The #1 Trend to Watch
As knowledge work dominates our economy, we need to find better and faster ways to learn. Today’s employees, who are typically overwhelmed at work, want flexibility in where and how they learn. And, according to research conducted by the Bersin Group at Deloitte, employees are taking more control over their own development. That is why U.S. News and World Report named digital badges as the #1 educational trend to watch in 2017.
What is a digital badge?
A digital badge is a new credential that a person earns when they complete an online educational program. The digital badge movement was started by the MacArthur Foundation who wanted to inspire universities and other organizations to create digital badge programs that improve learning outcomes for students and adults. A digital badge credential validates and communicates an individual’s skills and achievements to the rest of the world.
Digital badge credentials are most often displayed in the accomplishments section of a person’s LinkedIn Profile and on other social media outlets. The digital badge can be validated by a potential employer with just a click. Goodbye paper certificates. Hello digital credentialing!
Why are digital badge programs popular?
Digital badge programs at the Coles College of Business, where I work, are popular because they are mobile-learning programs that use the best practices in gamification, micro-learning and collaborative application. The College’s most popular digital badge programs are in the areas of account management, business innovation and leadership excellence.
The digital badge is valued because the program is rigorous and involves both learning and doing. Digital badges are popular with employers because the employee has to demonstrate real-world application of the concepts and skills being “learned.” For example, the Coles College teamed up with WellStar Health System to develop a Digital Badge in Leadership Excellence—Healthcare. So far 89 healthcare professionals have graduated from the program titled the WellStar Leadership Academy. The program is already having a significant positive impact on both the individuals and the organization.
What’s the difference between a digital badge and a certificate?
The digital badge credential is designed to compliment, not replace, traditional educational degrees, certifications or certificates. However, for those individuals who don’t have the time or budget to pursue a traditional degree or certification, the digital badge mobile-learning program and digital badge micro-credential may be their best—and maybe only—alternative.
A digital badge credential is earned when you complete a short educational program that is, more often than not, 100% online. A university-validated certificate or certification is typically earned when you also spend face-to-face time with the instructors either at a college campus or a company’s training center. For most individuals, it’s not an either/or decision. They often complete both digital badge programs and certificate programs to deepen their knowledge and enhance their marketability.
Building digital badge programs is a team sport!
Universities that truly want to innovate, and meet the needs of today’s modern learner, have to team up with others. Innovation in higher education is not an individual sport, it’s a team sport! At the Coles College of Business we have partnered with Jubi who provides an award-winning, gamified mobile-learning platform; Leadercast who provides thought-provoking videos featuring leadership experts from around the world; and the studio and digital media wizards at Kennesaw State University’s Technology Enhanced Learning division who help our faculty write scripts and deliver engaging online content.
Digital badge mobile-learning programs offer practical knowledge, backed by research, proven in practice, delivered directly to the employee’s desktop, laptop or mobile devices. They are educational programs that offer just enough knowledge, just in time—at the employee’s fingertips 24/7. The future of learning is here!
About the author
Dan Stotz is Executive Director of Executive Education Programs for the Michael J. Coles College of Business at Kennesaw State University.
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