Badges undercut colleges’ monopoly on credentials

Badges aren’t just for Boy Scouts — or video game enthusiasts — anymore,  I write on U.S. News.

The Mozilla Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Advanced Collaboratory (HASTAC) have created a $2 million Digital Media and Learning Competition to encourage the development of digital badges that recognize lifelong learners’ knowledge and skills.

Applicant A’s résumé shows an associate degree in business. By taking community college classes, studying online and learning on the job, Applicant B has earned “digital badges” in product design, marketing, business writing, sales, bookkeeping, leadership, mentoring and teamwork. Who gets the job?

If digital badges gain employers’ respect, which is a significant if, colleges and universities will face significant competition, writes Kevin Carey, policy director of Education Sector.

“Traditional colleges and universities use their present monopoly on the credentialing franchise to extract increasingly large sums of money from students,” writes Carey.

Digital badges could break that monopoly, giving people multiple ways to prove they know what they know, no matter how they learned it.

POSTED BY Joanne Jacobs ON January 21, 2012

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