Legitimacy of Digital Badges for Documenting Competencies in Today's Workplace

Concurrent Session 2
Streamed Session

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Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Micro-credentials benefit students providing an explicit record of competencies illustrating mastery of specific industry skills enhancing their employability.


Brenda M. Perea, Director of Educational and Workforce Solutions brings nearly fifteen years of experience in the secondary-postsecondary educational field along with ten years in the corporate world identifying and targeting workforce skills not apparent in transcripts, degrees, certificates and courses. She successfully led the Colorado Community College System to implement a system-wide workforce driven digital badge initiative, building collaboration between 13 colleges, 39 campuses and Colorado’s leading businesses and industries. She is nationally recognized to mentor digital badge initiatives into developing deeper collaboration with business and industry around workforce skills. Brenda speaks nationally on digital badges and participates in the international Open Recognition Alliance weekly calls and IMS Global workgroups to shape the national conversation on higher education badging, industry and business interest and workforce participant credentialing. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of New Mexico, a Master’s of Science degree from Shenandoah University.

Extended Abstract

A national conversation about digital badges, certifications, credit for prior learning and other forms of micro-credentials is underway and presenting interesting opportunities, challenges and question regarding the ability of postsecondary institutions to meet workforce demands. Digital badges present a challenge in traditional ways of thinking of credentialing learning beyond a degree. Digital badges and micro-credentials offer many benefits to students such as a faster, lower-cost option to master specific industry skills and provide an explicit record of competencies to enhance their employability. Employers benefit from digital badges because digital badges provide a more complete story of a candidate or employee with the direct linkages between skills acquired and validate technical skills or industry-recognized credentials. This session is about what’s taking place today, and what’s on the horizon in the next few years about new learning based credentialing systems and why Colorado Community College System has embarked on industry driven digital badges.

The format would be a short presentation around the national conversation on the philosophy of digital badges then an extended period of Q&A on alternative credentials including digital badges, post-secondary and workforce training credentials, documentation of non-traditional learning.

1. Review the information behind the international badging ecosystem
2. Share CCCS’ strategies to develop a framework to issue and receive badges.
3. Share a 1, 2, 3 step plan on how we piloted our first set of badges.
4. Share stories of immediate benefits to students, system colleges and the business/industries in Colorado.
5. Reflect on what works, what doesn’t and when rethink!

Outline of Presentation:  
I. Engagement (5-7 minutes)—
A. Introduction 
B. Highlight key questions to engage audience in the rationale of offering badges
1. Why develop institutional badges
a) Identify ways to recognize college level learning outside a traditional higher education setting.
b) Meet Colorado Business and Industry needs for highly skilled labor
2. Badges help identify key competencies not evident in a traditional transcript or course description.
c) Student success – Flexible access, targeted learning and no cost
d) Scale - Cost effective for participants 
II. Explanation & Exploration (15-20 minutes)
B. Discuss the development of badges
C. Highlight best practices for badge development
D. Highlight the Challenges and Successes of introducing badges in a traditional higher education setting
E. Provide development resources 
III. Elaboration & Closing (5-7 minutes)—
B. Brainstorming: audience suggestions for use of badges within their own institutions

OLC Pillars
Learning access and opportunity – community centered learning with world-wide access
Scale – localized community based easily scalable for statewide workforce implementation
Meeting Industry needs – recognizing mastery of competency not shown on traditional transcript or course description
Student success – recognition of college level learning obtained inside traditional higher education structure of courses, certificate and degrees, encouraging students to identify targeted learning and mastery of industry demanded skills