The Lumina Foundation and the University Professional and Continuing Education Association (UPCEA) hosted a unique Innovation Challenge contest earlier this year, asking for proposals and a prototype credential that “signals to employers in clear, verifiable ways that an individual can communicate effectively.”
The challenge description also noted “It is now widely understood that the United States cannot reach its degree attainment goals using only traditional milestones such as associate, baccalaureate or graduate degrees. This problem has profound implications for national competitiveness and a democratic society. While it is true that there has been a recent proliferation of alternative credentials such as certificates, badges, and endorsements, the transformative potential of this development has been severely limited by the absence of a common ‘currency’ that is recognized by employers, academics, and students alike as having value.”
A team from Brandman submitted an entry to the challenge and took the top prize of $10,000, a notable honor competing with more than 350 submissions. The money awarded will go towards providing scholarships to new students enrolling in the MyPath program.
“Congratulations to the Brandman team for this accomplishment, and for their visionary leadership at the university” said Brandman Chancellor Gary Brahm. “We have emerged as a leader in the online competency-based movement largely because of the expertise of this team.”
Sara Zaker, Hadassah Yang, Diane Singer and Nancy Salzman co-produced an entry titled “Creating a Common Currency for Alternative Credentials” along with a mock design for a badge in communications to win the challenge. Their submission was rooted in the research and implementation of MyPath, the Brandman competency-based education (CBE) platform, and the forthcoming badging system that will allow students to demonstrate achievement as they progress through degree programs.
In the submission they note “the use of digital badges or credentials in higher education has far-reaching implications for students, institutions, and employers. Digital badges can and should be created in order to provide various stakeholders with a transparent mechanism to obtain the information they value. Students need the ability to share, in a validated manner, their knowledge, skills and abilities (KSAs) with prospective employers and others.
“We worked as an amazing cross-functional team on this and I’m very proud of being selected as the top submission,” said Nancy Salzman, Dean of the School of Extended Education. “A universal language of micro credentials will help validate mastery of specific skill sets. This may be the solution to better understanding the outcomes that are encompassed within a degree program, certificate program and even a course.”
Brandman University is teaming up with Credly to launch digital badging for the MyPath program later this year.
“Employers inform us that there is a need to validate the skill set of business students and graduates” said Gary Brahm, Chancellor of Brandman University. “Digital badges will arm our students with a form of professional capital that has immediate value in the workplace.”
“Digital credentials offer students a new form of currency that they can leverage in their job search. The information contained in the metadata of the digital credential is evidence of what students know and what they know how to do,” said Diane Singer, associate professor of marketing. “This evidence could be a research paper, a project or other artifact of student knowledge. This currency has tremendous value because students can use this evidence to prove their qualifications. This gives our graduates an edge in the job market and places Brandman front and center with employers looking to hire the best and brightest qualified candidate.”
Credly allows achievements to be easily displayed in searchable LinkedIn profiles, employer talent management systems, e-portfolios, social networks, online communities, websites and other places where people can be discovered and recognized for what they bring to the table. The platform also provides insights and analytics which help the issuer understand the utility of each credential, aiding in refining and developing new educational programs to match real-world needs.
Brandman chose to work with Credly based on the company’s technology and thought leadership in the rapidly evolving area of digital credentials and open badges. The university plans to develop a consortium of institutions that will work directly with employers to develop standardization of badging, starting with the business program.
“The unique structure of programs like our new online competency-based bachelor’s degrees requires students to concretely demonstrate mastery of knowledge, skills and abilities,” said Charles Bullock, Brandman University Provost. “A new approach to offering degree programs deserves a new way to help students put their education to work – and digital badges are an important part of doing that.”