Piloting Digital Badges in Graduate Education
Digital or open badges are electronic credentials that communicate expertise to employers, educators, clients, and coworkers. Although badges are a topic of interest and discussion, they are not widely recognized or utilized. Most who are familiar with badges agree that they have potential and merit as a way to document, reward, recognize, and communicate learning and expertise. For background on digital or open badges, please see our earlier posts:
As trainers, e-learning designers, online educators, OD professionals, association managers, and higher education administrators, I believe it is important that we explore this new development and contribute to the body of knowledge surrounding micro-credentials. We are piloting the use of digital badges to recognize students for outstanding performance in our capstone course, TRDV 499: Professional Portfolio, where students will have the opportunity to earn digital badges in addition to college credit.
One of the more complicated aspects of working with digital badges is locating a reputable tool to award verified badges. To streamline the process for their clients, Blackboard has partnered with Mozilla to allow students to transfer badges earned in online classes to a Mozilla Backpack. Instructors can create badges or “Achievements” as they are called in Blackboard for the successful completion of various assignments and for course completion. Instructors may create custom badges or use the standard badges provided by Blackboard. Students can then view and share earned achievements by transferring badges to their “Backpack” and posting them electronically on LinkedIn, websites, Facebook, resumes, etc. Badges are digitally signed and verified, and the description and criteria for earning the badge are digitally encoded for others to see. Each badge has metadata attached that tells the viewer who awarded it and what the recipient did to earn it (see below).
In TRDV 499: Professional Portfolio, our capstone course, students document their learning and performance by developing a portfolio that contains exemplary work products and a supporting research paper. In this course site, students can earn the following badges:
As a “milestone achievement,” students can earn a badge for demonstrating excellence in the completion of their Master’s Portfolio.
If you are an instructor or course designer, you can learn more about how to create and manage badges in Blackboard. If you are a student, you can view your achievements in the Tools menu and also transfer your Badges to Mozilla Backpack.
What are your thoughts about digital badges and micro credentials?