Digital badges are increasingly being recognised by the education and corporate sectors as having the potential to accelerate the professional development of employees and make learners more employable. When used strategically, digital badges can make learners more attractive to potential employers and provide an excellent branding opportunity for educational institutions.
Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in the buzz of a new technology: there’s an inclination to roll out new systems before considering how the technology should be utilised to offer the most value for all parties.
When we onboard new organisations to Learning Vault’s very own digital badging platform, we start by mapping out the achievement being recognised under badges, identifying how each badge will offer actual value to the badge earner, the issuer and potential employers.
We thought we’d share some of the most common digital badging mistakes we’ve come across, to help any organisation embarking on a digital badging journey!1. Issuing badges manually and not automating this process
We’ve seen some organisations unnecessarily create more work for themselves by not connecting their evidence collection process with the badge issuing process. Some still tend to use manual methods such as collecting evidence using online forms and email. As this sort of data sits outside the digital badging platform, badges then need to be issued manually, one by one.
The best approach is to, wherever possible, integrate your badging system with your evidence collection system, whether that is an assessment management system, a memberships system, an attendance record or an induction system, and automate the issuing of badges.
Why waste time doing things manually when the integrations and technology are there to help speed things up?
2. Issuing badges without robust evidence
We’ve seen badges being issued without having established the badge earner’s abilities in a clear manner.
A digital badge is meant to tell a ‘story’ about the earner’s achievements, providing proof of the work done to achieve the credential or demonstrating the earner’s abilities. The evidence behind a badge must always come from a source of proof, confirming that yes, the earner CAN carry out the skill for which they have been issued a badge.
Evidence can come in many forms: written, assessment scores, testimonials. Evidence could even include a video showing the earner performing the skill (such as making a coffee). The media can be varied; the important thing is accurately illustrating that the earner can in fact carry out the skill.
3. Issuing badges randomly
Queue up the famous Oprah gif here... “You get a badge! YOU get a badge!” What you don’t want to do is issue badges just for the sake of it (like Oprah giving away cars to just about anyone, simply for being there). Digital badges should not be seen as ‘participation’ trophies, which lack true value for future potential employers.
Best practice is to thoroughly plan out where each credential and badge fit within an overall achievement or desirable skillset. Consider what series of skills needs to be attained in order for a badge earner to take a set of REAL, in-demand skills to the workforce.
4. Awarding badges, only for potential employers not to be able to find them (or the right ones)
We’ve seen badge issuers store digital badges in their LMS, which students don’t have access to after they complete their course, meaning they never end up being shared with the right parties.
One of the great things about digital badges is that they can (and should) be easily integrated into CVs, online portfolios and LinkedIn. Ideally, a potential employer will be directed to a place where they can view all of an earner’s relevant badges, instead of a page full of various badges, some of which are not relevant to the role at hand.
Learning Vault’s badging platform not only makes it simple for earners to share their badges across various platforms - it also allows them to create ‘collections’ that can be tailored to individual potential employers.
5. Issuing badges that don’t match skills needed by employers
Most recruiters now use keyword search to identify relevant candidates. If the right keywords are not contained in a digital badge’s data, a badge earner’s achievements can easily be passed over.
The skills presented under a badge need to be concrete and recognisable as something that is in demand from employers. These could be soft skills such as problem solving, time management and working in a team, or hard skills such as coding, bookkeeping or social media marketing.
6. Not leveraging badges as a prime branding opportunity for the issuer
We’ve seen some badge artwork where it’s not immediately clear what the credential obtained was, and what institution the credential came from. Digital badges present a prime branding opportunity for the issuer. Digital badges are shared by earners and seen by their peers and other interested parties. The potential for viral branding is immense, if done right!
It’s important to really consider how your brand is presented on the face of each badge, and not leave this as an afterthought. Some tips: ensure your organisation’s colour palette is present and recognisable, that you’re using your own fonts, and that your brand (even if simplified) is present on the badge.
However, that’s not to say go overboard and complicate it - digital badges are small images, and the hierarchy of information contained within should be well considered.
We work with organisations to identify the best design for their family of badges, planning this out from the beginning.
Learning Vault is Australia’s first (and only!) digital badging agency. We understand that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to issuing credentials. That’s why we’ve built a fully customisable digital badging platform just for Australian training organisations.
Talk to us about how digital badging can help your organisation today.