These days, skills are more and more valued over education, employers grumble that college grads are unsuspecting for the real world and the price tag for any college education is ridiculous. Plan discussions center around unaffordability, inaccessibility and students’ unpreparedness for college. At some point, you’ d think, some thing radical has to happen to alter the course of higher ed as we know it these days.
The change may already be afoot, in the form of open education, MOOCs and digital badges.
OpenStudy, for example , is just one of hundreds of organizations around the world implementing the digital badges system, which includes big names like NASA, NOAA, Carnegie Mellon, Intel, and Khan Academy. Some advocates are working to replace the traditional college degree entirely, creating a new system of badges that recognize educational achievement both inside and outside of the classroom.
Dr . Brian Wiley of Brigham Young University is an outspoken proponent of “open education, ” and imagines another where screenfuls of badges from free or low-cost institutions, perhaps combined with a course or two from a conventional college, replace the need for setting feet on a campus.
“As soon as big employers everywhere start accepting these new qualifications, either singly or in packages, the gig is up completely, ” Wiley told the Chronicle better Education.
The idea is well established in some computer-programming jobs, with Google, Microsoft and other companies creating certification programs to let employees show they have mastered certain computer systems.
Traditional physical badges have been used for hundreds of years by various organizations such as the miltary and even the woman Scouts of America to give members a physical emblem displaying their own levels oof accomplishment or achievements. The idea of digital badges, though, is a relatively recent development drawn from gamification research.
Within 2005, Microsoft introduced the Xbox’ 360 Gamerscore system, which is regarded as the original implementation of an achievement system. As game elements, badges have already been used by organizations such as Foursquare, Bing! and Huffington Post to prize users who achieve specific targets.
The use of digital badges as education credentials started in 2011, following the release of “An Open Badge System Framework, ” a white paper authored by Peer 2 Peer University and The Mozilla Foundation.
Within the paper, badges are explained because “a symbol or indicator of an accomplishment, skill, quality or attention. ” The report asserts that badges “have been successfully utilized to set goals, motivate behaviors, signify achievements and communicate success in numerous contexts” and proposes that when studying happens across various contexts and experiences, “badges can have a significant influence, and can be used to motivate studying, signify community and signal accomplishment. ”
The report also makes clear that the value of a badge comes less from its visual representation than from the framework around how and why it was conferred. The stronger the connection between the two, the more effective the badging system will be. For example , a badge should include information about how it was gained, who issued it, the time of issue, and, ideally, a web link back to some form of artifact relating to the job behind the badge.
Later in 2011, the Mozilla Base, a non-profit organization built round the ethos of the open Internet, introduced their intention to develop the Mozilla Open Badges in order to provide a common system for the issuance, collection and display of digital badges throughout a wide variety of instructional sites. The effort noticeable a strong shift from viewing badges as game-like elements to creating badges to certify learning. Many training sites such as P2PU and Khan Academy make use of a digital badging system.
Along with the John G. and Catherine T. MacArthur Base, Mozilla sponsored its first competitors for the development of digital “open badges” in 2013.
The badges movement is based on the concept people should be able to gather useful, verifiable evidence of everything they learn, not merely everything they learn while attending an accredited post-secondary institution.
Many of the new digital badges are super easy to attain in order to keep students motivated, while others signal mastery of fine-grained abilities that are not formally recognized in the traditional classroom.
Mozilla is designing a framework to let anyone with a Web page—colleges, businesses, or even individuals—issue education badges made to prevent forgeries and give potential companies details about the distinctions at the click of a mouse.
Hundreds of educational institutions, traditional and nontraditional, have got flocked to a $2-million grant program run in coordination with the David D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, seeking financial support to realize the educational-badge platform.
For most employers, undergraduate degrees are a check box that communicates very little about the skills a particular candidate possesses. Their value comes mostly from your presumed general authority of the granting institution—and the fact that traditional colleges possess a legally enforced near-monopoly over the production of credentials that are widely approved for the purposes of getting a job or pursuing advanced education. Social or 21st-century skills, which are invaluable to employers and correlated with job success, rarely show up on a transcript. Maintains are ‘flat’ and difficult, if not extremely hard, to verify.
Most of the first badge systems will fail due to poor design or insufficient connection to communities of interest. “But other people will take root and thrive, ” writes Kevin Carey for the Explain of Higher Education. “More users will certainly beget more users. Employers will certainly gain facility in the use of badges and confidence in those who keep them. ”
When that happens, he says, it will create difficulty for traditional institutions that right now use the revenue generated from their undergraduate-credential franchises to subsidize the cost of graduate student education, administration, scholarship and other activities.
“But society as a whole will certainly benefit enormously. The store of individual capital will be more broadly and accurately represented by credentials that are useful in a mobile, interconnected world. Isolating the credentialing and teaching features of higher education allows organizations to specialize in one or the other. ”