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Where to Start When Considering Digital Badges

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If you’re reading this blog, you’re probably already familiar with digital badges and their impact on learning, job placement and advancement, and how organizations are using digital badges to engage and retain their workforce. If you’re thinking about starting your own digital badging program, but don’t know where to start, there are several resources available for reference to get started.

Credly has been at the forefront of thought leadership regarding badging for many years. A classic, and still relevant resource from 2015 is Developing a Higher Education Badging Initiative, written with Veronica Diaz from EDUCAUSE. Tips include: creating a badge constellation, to get a holistic view of the program, robust metadata and mapping meaning to each badge, and developing an assessment strategy.

A slightly older piece, focused specifically on adult learners, was funded through the American Institutes for Research in 2013. That piece set the stage and forecasted where we have headed with badging in general. The Potential and Value of Using Digital Badges for Adult Learners, written with Erin Knight, is a nuanced look at many applications for digital badges.

Now that we are in 2018, what new ideas can be contributed? What has changed?

Everything and nothing.

On the one hand, the articles referenced above from 2013 and 2015 still work. The process of starting a digital credentialing program hasn’t changed. Probably the most crucial question is “Why?” Why are you badging? What problem are you trying to solve? Are you thinking of badges to document achievement? To build a culture of recognition? To call out specific competencies in your workforce? To make decisions about existing or incoming talent? The answers to the “Why?” question should drive your design.

While standards evolved, the importance of quality metadata is more evident. In the early days of badging, there were criticisms of meaningless badges being given out willy nilly. We still see the occasional meaningless badge; the badge may be for a very important reason, but when metadata is not descriptive and “full-bodied,” the outside viewer can make no sense of the purpose and importance. To read more about the importance of quality of metadata, read No Guts, No Glory.

The ecosystem has grown enough that we now have industry leaders recognizing and using digital badges. Follow Credly’s blog and case studies, and you’ll find ample evidence of how others are using digital badges to change their learning and development programs and to engage employees. If you prefer to listen, we’ve made available a podcast series that highlights ways in which others are using badges, and monthly webinars featuring various applications.

So this is relatively new: the ecosystem has grown to the point where the value of badges is recognized. "Digital credentials are fast becoming a global currency for skills and competencies." Ron Abel, CEO IMS Global Learning Consortium.

We now know more about how to design the best badges; ones that represent competencies and skills needed in the workforce. Our work at Credly emphasizes the importance of vetting badges to industry leaders and employers before fully developing and issuing. In fact, our Employer Engagement Field Guide can help any organization walk through the process of designing the best badges. The best badges ultimately enhance and expand the ecosystem.

How would a novice come up to speed on the world of digital badges? Follow our blog, listen to the podcasts, sign up for the next webinar, follow us on social media. Immerse yourself in the world of continued learning and digital badging to gain tips and tricks from industry experts. If you’re still not sure where to start, reach out by filling out the form below, and a Credly expert will help get you started.