Wait… We Do Need Stinkin’ Badges?

Digital badge from Anne Arundel Community College.Digital certificates and badges are taking off in higher education as working millennials seek alternatives to full-blown degrees to demonstrate specialized skills to employers.

Younger workers, immersed in social media, are comfortable with the gamification aspect of collecting and displaying digital credentials, reports University Business’s Matt Zalaznick, and colleges are obliging.

Since launching a digital badging program a year ago, Stony Brook University on Long Island, for example, has awarded 130 badges to higher ed administration and HR management professionals. Earned badges are posted to an internal online platform, says Zalaznick, and students can then add them to a resume or to social media profiles, such as LinkedIn and Twitter. Clicking on the badges reveals details about the skills they represent.

Another, Anne Arundel Community College in Maryland, has built its badging system to meet workforce needs, awarding hundreds to students who have demonstrated specific skills that local employers want.

The University Professional and Continuing Education Association finds that nearly two-thirds of higher ed institutions cite alternative credentialing as an important strategy for the future, and that one in five colleges today issue badges.

Watch those numbers increase in coming years as working millennials, their employers and advancing technologies push higher ed to new ways of meeting workplace needs.

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