Digital badges and the future of credentials

ICElogosquareFor my day job (I don’t spend all my time writing and speaking about technology and/or education), I think about “credentials.” Not just the kind you get when you leave higher education, but the kinds that mean you’ve achieved a certain level of competence or skill in a profession.

And they are starting to go digital.

Open-Badges-napkin-sketchWait, you may say. Doesn’t testing for these certificates and licenses already largely happen digitally? Yes, the testing itself can, at computer-based testing sites and increasingly through Internet-based testing. But the result — the credential — still mostly is paper. Or if it is digital, it’s a PDF or other static image.

That’s all starting to change thanks to the efforts of the non-profit Mozilla Foundation and its Open Badges project. Open Badges are digital credentials with a difference: their images embed metadata that makes it possible to verify, immediately, who issued them, who earned them, how they were awarded and when they were issued or expire. And these digital, open badges can represent an assessment-based credential (or if it’s very targeted, a “micro-credential”) that is easily shared, stacked (that is, combined) and stored for ongoing use by the earner.

Read my explainer for the Institute for Credentialing Excellence, “Digital ‘Badges’ Emerge as Part of Credentialing’s Future,” in the Summer 2013 (fully digital) issue of ICE Digest.

(Oh, that “day job”  is as chief marketing officer for Professional Examination Service, itself a not-for-profit professional credentialing and assessment services organization. Badges? We don’t need no … yes, we do.)

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