Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Digital Badges on Resumes and College Applications

by James Willis 

Our recent article, "Where Badges Work Better," published as an ELI Brief in July 2015 by the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative as a different version, notes the difficulty in getting organizations to value badges. Translating badges to real-world outcomes like obtaining employment or entry into college is one of the next major goals of open digital badge development. This is no small task: even as badges have gained traction in educational technology, they remain a bit more remote to businesses and some college admissions departments. The Sprout Fund, a Pittsburgh, PA-based organization that "supports innovative ideas that are catalyzing change...making our community a better place to live, work, play, and raise a family" is helping move badges into the workplace and college admissions practices.

From our on-going efforts to help organizations build high-value, evidence-rich badges that circulate in digital networks, we have likewise concluded that there is much interest in badges, but they still are not widely valued in the workplace or in college admissions. The Sprout Fund reiterates this conclusion; their local efforts in Pittsburgh are changing the discussion to help facilitate badge use into viable credentials for job and college entry. Seen as a 21st century effort to help "recruit new talent," badges can demonstrate alternate credentialing pathways to skills and knowledge. The Sprout Fund joined Hive Learning Network two years ago in the larger Cities of Learning effort.

The Sprout Fund sponsored an event on July 21st to help "learn more about how digital badges are being used today, explore opportunities for their future as a workforce development tool, and work with others to co-design methods for infusing digital badges into the workforce." Local efforts such as this one will help transform credentialing and educational pathways in the near future. The Sprout Fund recognizes the importance of building valuable badges that contain evidence-rich artifacts of learning. This helps them take their badging efforts and extend them to interested employers and collegiate admissions.

This event generated wide local coverage including an article from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Pittsburgh Business Times, and Next Pittsburgh. The Next Pittsburgh article also highlights that "DePaul University already recognizes [badges] on its applications," which was an intended outcome in the MacArthur Foundation 2013 initiative to help transform education with badges.

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