The importance of digital badges

May 19, 2021

The Alamo Colleges are enhancing your educational experience by providing you with the skills you need to succeed in your career. One way we’re doing this is by offering digital badges, which is a type of micro-credential you can earn by demonstrating competency in a marketable skill. Don’t worry; it’s not as confusing as it sounds, and the benefits can be significant. Let’s break it down to get the complete picture!

What is a micro-credential?

Unlike earning a college degree, certificate, or other college credentials over months or years, micro-credentials are extremely specific. They are designed to focus on a single skill or cluster of skills so a learner can study, practice, and improve upon that skill quickly. A micro-credential is a credential that signals the completion of a skill-based learning experience. A digital badge is one technology used to display learning achievement. 

There are two types of learning experiences offered at our five Alamo Colleges that result in a digital badge. One option is a non-college-credit training that takes 10 hours or less to complete. The other option is to earn a marketable skills badge within a college-credit course.

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What are marketable skills?

Marketable skills and technical skills are two sides of the same coin. As you work towards earning your degree or certificate, it can be easy to focus only on your technical skills. For instance, a graphic design student may focus on building a solid portfolio, or a programming student might develop a computer game to show his or her coding expertise. These are examples of technical skills—in other words, proof you have the practical knowledge to get a job in your field.

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On the other hand, marketable skills, sometimes called “durable” or “uniquely human” skills,  include things like oral communication, written communication, collaboration, problem-solving, and critical thinking. Businesses and organizations looking to hire new employees often value technical and marketable skills equally. After all, marketable skills affect how employees interact with co-workers and customers, directly impacting team functionality and organizational output. You can bet employers want to know about your marketable skills before they hire you.

So how do digital badges help my job search?

In essence, digital badges are proof you can demonstrate a specific marketable skill. An Alamo Colleges Badge Coach or Badge Specialist evaluates digital badge assignments. If they determine you have demonstrated competency in the skill, you will earn your badge. Digital badges are issued through email or directly to your Badgr account and can be added to your LinkedIn profile, digital portfolio, website, and social media accounts.

On a deeper level, digital badges allow you to discuss your experience with certain marketable skills during the hiring process. For example, when an employer asks whether you are a “good team player,” you can discuss your Collaboration digital badge and its activities and outcomes.

What are students at the Alamo Colleges saying about digital badges?

A recent survey shows the student experience has been positive and marked with opportunities for you to learn skills like resiliency, collaboration, and creative problem-solving. 

One student surveyed shares, “Resilience was the first badge we worked toward, and I believe it is a foundation for many other skills.” Other students echo the importance of resiliency and “being able to remain calm in the face of adversity [as it] helps you use the other techniques from later on in the course.” Resiliency helps people bounce back and is transferable to nearly any working environment.

Students also emphasize the importance of active listening and being open-minded to collaborate toward a common goal. In terms of creative problem-solving, one student noted, “I also liked learning how to come up with the best solutions using the divergent and convergent thinking for creative solutions.”

As our Alamo Colleges offer more courses that award or integrate digital badges, you can expect to see opportunities to earn a badge. For more information about the digital badges currently offered, visit alamo.badgr.com.

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