In adult education, the main credentials available to students are often quite far off from where the student begins with us. Whether it is a High School Equivalency Diploma, Citizenship or mastery of TOEFL, the tests these credentials require are difficult and require many hours of work in and outside of class. This is where the idea of micro-credentialing comes in. Much like Girl Scout badges, micro-credentials mark achievements along the way to the larger credential. A micro-credential may be associated with mastery of a skill, time spent on a skill or task, or some other achievement. A common way to indicate a micro-credential is through the use of digital badges, an online image that is a “validated indicator of accomplishment.”
I recently attended a mobile devices workshop at the COABE 2016 conference where Susan Gaer, the presenter, offered a digital badge for all those who attended her session. In that case, the micro-credential recognized that we had spent 75 minutes in a workshop on digital literacy and had achieved the outcomes Susan had set at the beginning of the workshop. Susan made her badges using a free website called Credly.
Credly allows you to make digital badges for others and collect the digital badges that you have earned. The digital badges can be added to your Linked In account, an electronic resume, and a host of other social media platforms. When you develop your digital badge on Credly, you can include information regarding what the badge represents, how much time was required, the types of tasks required, and the proof of mastery. You can design your own digital badge using their graphics or by uploading your own. To deliver the digital badge, you need the recipient’s name and an email address. The recipient then receives an email from which they can access their digital badge and determine where they would like to save and/or display it.
Try out Credly and see how your students respond. Perhaps the first digital badge you use could be to indicate achievements around the use of technology. Susan Gaer required that we fill out a Google Form on our smart phones to receive our digital badges, which in itself demonstrated our ability to follow her directions, get to the form on our smart phones, and fill out the form correctly.
If the use of the digital badge seems beneficial, the next step will be to make a clear plan for how you will use the digital badges: At what increments will you offer badges? What will each badge signify? The digital badges may just be for you and your students, but you may want to consider how they could be developed in such a way that the value of each achievement marked by a digital badge is something that others (students, teachers, employers, colleges, etc.) can clearly understand and trust.