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Digital Badges at Syracuse University: Recognizing and Authenticating Microcredit Moments in Higher Education

As higher education continues to anticipate and react to the needs of a changing workforce, new programs and various modalities have been introduced to provide just-in-time learning opportunities that meet the needs of technical and soft skills sought by employers. Micro-certificates offer learners a pathway to quickly upgrade or enhance their professional skills or interests in the form of short, subject-specific learning opportunities.

Microloans: Bridging Skills Gaps and Expanding Opportunities

Microloans play a unique role in helping students upgrade or retrain to be more competitive in the job market. By providing short, focused learning experiences when and where students need them, micro-certifications allow students to build a portfolio of demonstrated learning in a short time, whether for career advancement or personal interest.

The Professional Acceleration and Microcredit Office within the Syracuse University College of Professional Studies was launched in 2021 to expand the University’s portfolio of alternative learning degrees, including non-credit certificates, courses and workshops. Alongside the launch of this new office, the introduction of digital badges. While official degrees from accredited institutions remain the gold standard for credited certificate and degree programs, digital badges are quickly becoming a similar standard for marking successful completion of professional micro-certifications.

Syracuse University’s first digital badges were awarded to those who completed the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs’ Crisis Leadership and Governance certificate program, which has offered distinguished non-degree offerings for decades. in short course formats for national and international audiences.

“Microloans expand our ability to publicly recognize and certify the qualifications our alumni have earned,” says Daniel Nelson, director of short courses for the Maxwell School’s executive education program. “It is a valuable tool for the school and representative of how we are continually expanding our flexible educational pathway offerings. Micro-certificates are a great tool to support immediate learning goals and provide opportunities to “stack” those achievements toward enrollment and the traditional Maxwell degree.

Digital badges: validating learning experiences

Through our digital badge platform, Syracuse University will recognize achievement and demonstration of learning by issuing digital badges at different levels of learning such as foundational, intermediate, and advanced.

“When a college, school, or other special unit of Syracuse University awards a digital badge for an achievement, it signifies that the achievement has been assessed and is now recognized by that college, school, or unit,” says Arthur Thomas, Executive Director of Professional Acceleration. and micro-certificates.

Digital badges are more than just an icon that can be shared on social media platforms like LinkedIn. The achievement criteria shown on the digital badge help external assessors and employers determine how to assess the achievement of a particular digital badge against their own competency expectations.

Each digital badge provides specific information not only about the type of digital badge awarded, who it was awarded to and when it was earned, but also what was needed to get it and who who awarded it. The result is an online validation of an authenticated learning experience.

“When clicked, the digital badge icon takes the user to a dedicated page on the badging platform where that badge is amplified, and its unique background information can be viewed and verified,” Thomas explains. “The authentic validation that comes with these digital badges allows these individual journeys to become more ‘readable’ to the public, allowing individuals to show details about what makes them truly unique.”

Powerful learning packs: personalized learning and stackable badges

Individualized learning goals can be created, tracked and achieved through the ability to pursue micro-certificates at different levels and on different subjects. Students can choose to customize their learning path by pursuing one or more micro-certificates that complement their skills for a specific career path or goal. Students can also take advantage of pre-designed paths that include advanced depth courses, which provide increased knowledge of a specific skill set or subject and earn more advanced digital badges.

“The ability to assemble micro-certificates into a unique combination for a particular individual serves to define their professional brand,” says Thomas. “A student can build a powerful portfolio of digital badges that tells the story of their college journey.”

The Office of Career Acceleration and Microcredit will work with all schools and colleges on the Syracuse University campus that wish to issue digital badges to their students.

“We have an existing catalog of on-campus microcredit programs that are currently recognized by printed certificates,” says Thomas. “We want to empower our students not only to pursue their lifelong learning goals, but also to share their achievements with their networks. Digital badges allow us to give them this opportunity.

In the summer of 2022, a new expanded catalog of microloan programs will be launched alongside the integration of existing microloans into the badging platform.

To stay up to date on new programs and how to register, please visit the professional acceleration and microloans web page.

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