ERIC Number: EJ1002829
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2012-Oct
Reference Count: 0
"Badges" Earned Online Pose Challenge to Traditional College Diplomas
Young, Jeffrey R.
Education Digest: Essential Readings Condensed for Quick Review, v78 n2 p48-52 Oct 2012
The spread of a seemingly playful alternative to traditional diplomas, inspired by Boy Scout achievement patches and video-game power-ups, suggests that the standard certification system no longer works in today's fast-changing job market. Educational upstarts across the Web are adopting "badges" to certify skills and abilities. If scouting focuses on outdoorsy skills like tying knots, these badges denote areas employers might look for, like mentorship or digital video editing. Many of the new digital badges are easy to attain--intentionally so--to keep students motivated, while others signal mastery of fine-grained skills not formally recognized in a traditional classroom. The biggest push for badges is coming from industry and education reformers. Mozilla, the group that develops the Firefox web browser, is designing a framework to let anyone with a webpage--colleges, companies, or individuals--issue education badges designed to prevent forgeries and give potential employers details about the distinctions at the click of a mouse. Hundreds of educational institutions have flocked to a $2-million grant program, run in coordination with the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, seeking financial support to experiment with the educational-badge platform. Employers might prefer a world of badges to the current system. Diplomas contain little detail about what one has learned, whereas badges better reflect a person's qualifications. Some observers see a darker side, charging that badges turn all learning into a commodity and cheapen the difficult challenge of mastering something new. Rather than dive into an assignment out of curiosity, students might focus on an endless pursuit of badges, argues Alex Reid, an associate professor of English at the University at Buffalo. "The presence of a badge could actually be a detriment to an otherwise genuine learning experience," he wrote on his blog. But in an interview, he agreed that in today's tough job market, people are searching for alternatives that better reflect their qualifications.
Descriptors: Internet, Web Sites, Labor Market, Credentials, Certification, Educational Attainment, Online Courses, Online Vendors, Information Science Education, Traditionalism
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Adult Education; Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Authoring Institution: N/A