Open Badges: a digital certification to positively shed a light on your knowledge and skills

In this post, we will discuss how Open Badges represent powerful tools, making it possible to make visible qualities and skills that traditional certifications and credentials do not yet know how to measure. 

Should you ask recruiters and employers, a recurring topic that has still to be solved lies in the Skills gap and/or skills shortages from candidates in order to satisfactorily fill certain job positions.

The concept known as Skills mismatch, including skill gaps, skill shortages, field of study (horizontal) mismatch and skill obsolescence.

Skill gaps measure the extent to which workers lack the skills necessary to perform their current job.

Skill shortages generally refer to unfilled or hard to fill vacancies that have arisen as a consequence of a lack of qualified candidates for posts.

If the Jobs and Skills Mismatch concept is not new and is sometimes backed-up by objective data, the concept can also bear an important part of subjectivity.

Let’s have a look at the problem from another angle: Why if the gap was not a skills gap but rather a communication gap? What if the skills & knowledge of candidates were not missing but rather were lacking the appropriate recognition and therefore not showcased?

We argue in this article that the Open Badges, connected, verifiable credentials represented in portable image files, with embedded metadata about skills and achievements are answering the challenge in bridging this communication gap.

What are Open Badges?

In 2011, The Mozilla Foundation initiated the development an open technical standard called Open Badges to create and build a common system for the issuance, collection, and display of digital badge son multiple instructional sites

As described earlier an Open Badge is a digital image that carries data about achievements and Skills of an individual

There is Data inside each Open Badge including:

  • Badge Name & Description
  • Badge issuer: Who issued the Open Badge
  • Recipient: Who it was issued to
  • Badge Criteria: What must be done in order to earn the badge
  • Evidence: Proof that the criteria have been met
  • Issue date / Expiry date

Learning happens anytime & anywhere

The open badge does not replace the current diploma system. It is not a ‘micro-diploma’, but it fits perfectly into this 21st century, where work is now collaborative, where intelligence is collective and where knowledge is shared, where skills are never acquired ‘once and for all’ but must be updated.

Lifelong learning is a concept now accepted by society and the professional world. But not only learning happens anytime, it also happens anywhere: at school of course, but also at your workplace, at the charity where you have committed your free time, online, etc.

Open Badges for a digital certification of your hard but also soft skills

The open badge thus represents a digital declaration and validation of a person’s skills and knowledge. You can receive an open badge at the end of any type of learning: an online conference, or a more traditional training session taken in a ‘physical’ space

Yes, Open Badges offer a great way to digitally certify and showcase any training received in an academic setting or else allowing learners to share their digital diploma on professional networks like linkedin for example. This is the first type of use we can think of when we talk about Open Badges.

But you can do so much more with Open Badges !

Indeed, you can also receive an Open Badge that will validate an achievement at work or your participation in a conference for example. We are here entering the realm of Soft Skills that are valued a lot by recruiters. Soft Skills are abilities that relate to how you work and how you interact with other people.

Soft Skills that are highly regarded by recruiters include Problem-solving, Effective communication skills, Self-direction, Drive and Adaptability/Flexibility and Teamwork.

Open Badges represent a powerful means to showcase soft skills and present oneself digitally. As a professional, Open Badges allow you to demonstrate that you are a talented facilitator of meetings, that you have an ability to organize teamwork, or that you know how to collaborate …, so many achievements resulting from various experiences whose recognition is invaluable for the candidate and for his future employer.

Then, many types of badges can be considered:

·        Participation badges

·        Commitment badges (with levels)

·        Know-how badges

·        Skill badges

·        Achievement or project badges (individual or collective)

·        Reflective writing badges

·        Animation badges for a training action

Open Badges allow us to recognize the value of knowledge acquired through informal or non-formal experience.

Where are the benefits for businesses and other organisations ?

If universities, associations and administrations are still in the lead in the Open Badges area in terms of numbers of Badges issued per year, companies and businesses are becoming more and more important stakeholders of the ecosystem.

Here we can think especially to companies of advanced digital technologies which cannot provide the professions of tomorrow with yesterday’s certifications. This leads to the interesting fact that companies that were more consumers of certifications through recruitment become producers of new certifications using Open Badges to recognise them.

For businesses, Open Badges make it possible to:

  • develop employee engagement in the internal training offer;
  • get to know your employees better by identifying their skills and areas of interest;
  • map these elements to make visible the strengths and areas for improvement and thus personalize the training offer;
  • maintain the employability of employees by enhancing their skills and knowledge;
  • develop the culture of learning within the company.
  • diversify the company’s communication and even its business model by distributing certifications related to its core business and its brand image.

The case of the IBM Open Badges program (https://ibm-learning-skills-dev.github.io/badges/badgemain.html) is very instructive in sketching the outlines of the immense potential of Open Badges. With the badges, they set up learning paths to allow everyone to improve their skills, to develop their career thanks to their badges profile.

Recognize the Hidden part of the iceberg

The need to be recognized for their skills, their work, their interpersonal skills and even their achievements has always been the driving force behind strong commitment. But the practice of recognition is also a very powerful lever for mobilizing learners. Open Badges are therefore ideal to recognize, value and make visible everything that relates to the human experience. 

Open Badges appear to be powerful tools, making it possible to make visible qualities and skills that traditional certifications and credentials do not yet know how to measure.