The coming of age of the digital open badge

An individual’s transition from the world of education into work and their ongoing progression throughout their career is a journey which is facilitated by a blend of qualifications, experience, ambition and opportunity. Without these four elements in place, the individual may struggle on their journey.

Traditionally, formal qualifications have served as milestones, helping the individual open the door to the next step of their journey. Leaving compulsory education with good GCSE results opens the door to higher education; a good set of results at A-level opens opportunities at undergraduate level or an apprenticeship, and so on.

Entering into the world of work puts the individual on the starting line of a highly competitive field. For every ‘good’ job, there may well be multiple, if not hundreds of applicants, all equally qualified and equally experienced.

So, how can the individual stand apart and elevate themselves above the field, and how can this approach serve them throughout their career?

Education is not limited to formal qualifications. While GCSEs, A-Levels, Degrees and vocational qualifications may form the building blocks of knowledge, opportunities to learn are available on an ongoing basis as part of a commitment to continual professional development (CPD).

Micro-credentials and elected learning

CPD is a role-specific approach to demonstrating an individual’s abilities and ongoing competence. But CPD does not have to be prescriptive and it certainly does not have to be entirely role specific; in fact, a broad understanding of a variety of topics may well provide a greater insight into an individual’s abilities and interests than a ‘me too’ approach to qualifications.

Micro-credentials serve to bind the formal building blocks of knowledge together, by enhancing professional and soft skills that aren’t routinely covered by education. Communications, professional standards, body language, conflict management etc.; these are all key topics in the workplace but are not necessarily covered within any formal education structure.

Micro-credentials also allow the individual to maintain a contemporary knowledge that reflects the latest industry developments.

If the individual wishes to be a well-rounded professional with a broad knowledge base, then this cannot readily be achieved by focussing on traditional learning models. It can, however, be achieved with the support of e-Learning, open badges and a commitment to CPD.

What’s next for the open badge?

IBM recently announced that they had issued their millionth open badge; a phenomenal achievement and one which highlights the increasing acceptance of micro-credentials.

RWA is itself approaching a milestone, as we are currently about to issue our 250,000th open badge. What does this mean? For our My Development Zone platform, it means that 250,000 assessments and courses have been completed with a minimum pass rate of 80%. We are not only offering workplace learners a tool to develop their skills; we are also raising standards at the same time.

As our learner numbers grow, our issue rate is increasing, so we expect to see these milestones being breached on a more regular basis as more and more people recognise the value of e-Learning and micro-credentials.

If you would like to learn more about open badges and what e-Learning can do for your organisation, please get in contact.


About the author

Tom has worked at RWA for over 12 years, starting as Operations Manager before taking on roles as Operations Director, CEO and most recently as Director leading the company into the digital age.

Before joining RWA, he was involved in helping develop the operations of one of Wales’ fastest growing utility consultancies as well as leading the Key Accounts team of a major commercial energy supplier.

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