I recently ran across an old PBS News Hour video on digital badging that was a great summary of the business case for using digital badges in higher education. Basically, the reason we should move towards digital badges is to help our students differentiate their skills from other graduates with the same degree. The video points out that graduates from a specific program have demonstrated the basic knowledge and skills associated with their course of study. These components are defined in the curriculum. But the areas that really differentiate one graduate from the next are those soft skills that cut across all courses taken in a degree plan. These are the skills employers consistently voice as being the most important, yet they are not defined in the same way as the program courses. Indeed, they more than likely cut across all courses and experiences of the student, like layers in a cake.
This is where digital badges come in. They can be used in a way that helps a student differentiate their knowledge and skills from those of other students in the same course of study. It is for this reason that I believe we should pursue documenting our students’ marketable skills using digital badges.