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No Guts, No Glory: The Story of Metadata

While digital credentials are visualized through digital badges, they are backed up by an extensive skeleton of data--metadata. This metadata is the “guts” of a badge and details the requirements an individual has satisfied to earn a particular credential along with the evidence that a specific individual has indeed satisfied those requirements. Metadata capture the endpoints that describe who received the badge, from which issuer, when and for what purpose, among other details.

Alas, not all metadata is created equally.

Imagine you invest your time in some form of training that requires weeks of classroom attendance, several projects and papers, and a final exam. There is true evidence of what you’re capable of doing as a result; you can prove your competencies. You receive a digital badge from the training provider, and it says: “Completed the ABC training course.”

Wait! What good is that? Does it tell the richness of what went into this experience? Does it describe the competencies one can reasonably expect as a result of the training? Does it position those competencies as valued in the industry? Does it articulate the methods of instruction or assessment, including projects, papers and minimum thresholds for exams?
Skimpy metadata fails both the earner and the issuer. From the earner’s perspective, skimpy metadata reduces the experience to a one-liner. A fully developed digital credential with rich metadata affords the earner a new vocabulary for discussing and showcasing one’s potential. This is most attractive to those who are reskilling or upskilling. Good metadata might also include real evidence of learning in the form of a work product.
From the issuer’s perspective, skimpy metadata reflects superficially on the organization. The issuer may have missed an opportunity to position itself as a provider of quality learning experiences. Instead of branding the organization as different from competitors, the organization may sound like any other organization offering the same service. Robust metadata takes credentials beyond gamification
When an issuer uses metadata to provide context, relevancy, and requirements of a credential, it takes an achievement beyond a one-time gamification hit and helps create a pathway for the next steps an earner can take to continue their journey. Within the Credly Acclaim network, metadata helps earners see recommendations for next steps, related badges to pursue, and professional opportunities that are relevant to the digital credentials they have earned.
Without quality metadata (the guts), there will not be a return that is beneficial to either the earner or issuer (the glory). The call to action? Take a look at how you are authoring your digital credentials and ensure that you are providing earners and outsiders a robust description of the relative value of the achievement, the skills and competencies represented by the credential, the full requirements an earner satisfied, and all assessment methods.
Go for the guts and everyone will more readily find the glory.

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