From degrees to digital badges: The future of university accreditations
Are digital badges a future alternative to degrees? Source: Shutterstock

Which would you rather: a couple of degree credentials or a range of digital badges that boost your employability?

Visually validating your skills and abilities across the web, the digital badging system is a futuristic, professional version of the Scout’s patch placement.

Recently highlighted by U2B, “a market research firm named MarketsandMarkets claimed that the value of the market would likely hit US$205.6 million by 2023, growing at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 19.8 per cent from US$83.3 million in 2018.”

And it has already made its mark in universities such as Griffith University in Australia.

“The university recently launched ‘Griffith Credentials’, an employability initiative created in partnership with badging firm Credly. Established in 2012, the New York-based Credly has been described as the ‘king of digital badging’, having administered badges for technology juggernauts like IBM, Oracle and ISACA,” U2B notes.

The journey of digital badges

Growing in interest, digital badges may have strategic and positive effects on the global education sphere.

They refresh student accreditations and encourage them to collect as many badges as they can.

They make it clearer for companies to spot potential candidates by matching badges to the advertised job role, also diversifying a students’ skill sets by listing all that they’ve worked to attain.

But what happens when a candidate has all the same badges as another candidate? Would it take employers back to the very start of the employment process rather than making it simpler for them to find a unique employee?

The dilemmas that digital badges could face

Last year, Forbes outlined the Seven deadly sins of digital badges. Since then, scepticism has increased.

The main worry is that digital badges will be issued without authority and that they can be easily forged, or even bought online.

But degree certification from a university lessens the fears surrounding legitimacy and strengthens the evidence of a students’ skills as the process is trusted and backed by years of evidence.

Plus, the digital badge providers that have started to emerge may not measure a students’ success effectively, upping the threat of misleading badges.

Universities are rooted in history, with years of experience and alumni members to support their academic validity.

Digital badge systems are still a new concept that will take time to gain trust from employers and recognition from global educators.

There’s also concern about degree holders having to take extra courses or tests to gain digital badges of their own. Despite being highly qualified for the position, a role may require evidence of badges on their CV or online profiles.

Furthermore, if companies shift their focus to a badging system when hiring new employees, what hope do universities have in selling courses with degree certifications?

Instead, universities may have to redesign their awarding process and think about designing new digital badges, pushing away the classic graduation certificate.

So, do you opt for a degree, or do you go digital?

With the uncertain future of education, is it worth upskilling your résumé with added badges? Or should you boost it through traditional forms of career development, such as workshops and professional certificates?

The choice is yours.

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