A design challenge with universities and the Education Design Lab working to address the question:
How might we capture learning beyond the traditional transcript in ways that are meaningful to employers?
“What’s clear from our early design challenge is that this is a really big idea, but we need more stakeholders at the table to design a network of badges that is meaningful in the workforce.”
Dr. Ángel Cabrera
George Mason University President
On his university’s participation in Phase #1
College students gain many of their highest impact outcomes from applied learning and situational adaptation beyond their formal courses.
Informal learning, which often adds significantly to the development of “21st century skills,” has been difficult to capture and display on a transcript or resume.
Employers assert that college graduates are lacking “21st century skills,” which include “the four C’s,” communication, critical thinking, creativity and collaboration.
Students and employers explain why “I wish I had a badge”
Come design with us
Where we are currently
Re-framing the 21st century skills conversation by creating a transparent and replicable badge ecosystem that connects existing competency frameworks, assessments and technology platforms, to meet the needs of students, schools and employers
During the 2015-16 academic year, the Lab is going deeper with Georgetown University and George Mason University to build out 4-5 specific badges and conduct in market tests with students, faculty and employers.
Concurrently, the Lab is working on design criteria with potential national partners on prototype frameworks, assessments and a technology platform to help scale an initial suite of badges beyond a first set of schools.
The main criticism of badges is that they aren’t rigorous.
The Lab proposes adapting existing educational frameworks to construct competency-based badges.
It is accepted that effective employees index high on 21st century skills. Many employers are looking for students with 21st century skills and are less focused on their major, GPA and alma mater. However, students aren’t familiar with 21st century skills or their own strengths and weaknesses across these skills, and schools don’t have a way for students to display their 21st century skills and develop them.
Creating a Transparent Blueprint from Promising Practices
By doing a comprehensive scan of existing badging efforts and competency frameworks, the Lab will create prototypes for how to construct a badge that can be easily adopted by educational institutions.
Proposed Badges include: Catalyst, Collaboration, Critical thinking, Cross-cultural, Empathy, Oral communication, Problem solving, Resilience, and Self-efficacy.
The constellation of 21st century skills that employers care most about:
A 6-month local learning collaborative of 7 regional universities:
George Mason University
University of Maryland Baltimore County
University of Maryland University College
The Universities at Shady Grove
“We need to cement partnerships with potential employers and collaborate with industry thought leaders in order to think differently about how we identify and further develop the skills our students need upon graduation.”
Dr. William “Brit” Kirwan
Chancellor of the University System of Maryland
Education Design Lab ran design sprints to envision a new hiring ecosystem in which micro credentials will be valuable currency to employers.
Employer Convening at 1776 Campus
The Lab brought a dozen employers together with our pilot institutions to gather feedback on the universities’ badge ideas.
Phase II Key Findings
21st century skill badges, specifically, help employers find the skill sets that are predictors of success, but are often the hardest to discern, especially from a transcript or resume alone.
To be effective as a competency credential for employers, badges must be: Rigorous (i.e., competency based, not participation based); Transparent (i.e., what the student did to achieve the badge (the metadata) are clear); Portable (i.e., the badge can be achieved and used by students regardless of the institution they attend); Assess-able (i.e., the badge consists of skills that can be tested); Simplistic.
Phase II Key Findings
Identifying the challenge:
George Mason University
Council for Aid to Education
What We Learned
We have to start with employers.
We already know the skills gaps that employers care about.
We have to involve a variety of student types.
We have to run the pilot in a hiring cycle.
Assessments don’t exist for much of what we want to accomplish.
The initial phase of the Badging Challenge tackled the design question:
How might we assess, measure and guide a student’s 21st century skills development within or beyond a university degree?
For an archived page that describes this 2014 four-month challenge, click here.
There are three buckets of work:
Growth opportunities & coaching
Designing credible credentials or badges