Are Digital Badges a New Measurement of Mastery?

Across the globe, higher ed institutions and professional organizations are harnessing the power of digital badges to motivate, demonstrate, and validate learning and development (L&D). Digital badges are currently in use at postsecondary institutions such as MIT and Yale University and organizations such as NASA, the U.S. Department of Education, and the Smithsonian.


Our modern era is characterized by a rapidly changing economy that requires members of the workforce to continuously seek L&D opportunities. Earning a certificate or degree from a postsecondary institution is only the beginning of a lifelong learning process that includes recertification and professional development. Digital badges can measure what skills and competencies a learner has acquired from professional development opportunities in addition to providing evidence of memberships with professional organizations.


In an L&D setting, digital badges represent that a learner has demonstrated mastery of specific, granular skills and competencies that are expected to improve future performance. The demonstration of mastery can be measured in a variety of ways, for example, via scenario-based assessment items that represent real-world experiences. Badges can represent incremental learning and progress, and they can also represent larger, more comprehensive capstone achievements. As such, badges are becoming an increasingly popular way for L&D to more fully document the breadth and depth of a learner’s achievements.


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