Back in October 2019, we announced our Badging Fellows, a cohort of five individuals working on their respective campuses to build and launch a learning experience utilizing the Lab’s 21st century skills. Over the past few months, the Fellows have been working diligently, designing enhancements to the existing 21st Century Skills Badges (in some cases, closely with employers), and positioning the initiative with faculty and staff for spring deployment. Our Fellows, who previously had very little experience with digital microcredentialing, have quickly become subject matter experts on ways to make learning and 21st century skills visible.
Five months into their work, we touched base with our Fellows and asked them two core questions:
What has been the most exciting development thus far?
And, what has been your biggest a-ha about launching digital badges thus far?
University of Washington Continuum College
The most exciting development for us has been the enthusiasm from our industry partners. During data collection, our interviewees voiced how important it is to them to be able to tease out ‘collaboration’ strengths from existing and new employees. They feel our badging work has potential to support their needs in this area.
We are just getting ready to launch our Badge in the coming weeks. Our biggest a-ha moment came in knowing that the content we’ve designed for the Collaboration Badge is mostly already integrated in our professional certificate curriculum. We are now just authenticating it in a new way. Exciting!
Florida International University
The most exciting development has been the relationships that we have built. The experience of working on a collaborative project of this nature—in an innovative way—across units, will not only increase the success of our students but provide a path forward to successfully scale with additional departments.
Our biggest a-ha moment thus far is definitely around creating the needed support mechanisms for students, faculty, and external stakeholders; such as coaching, toolkits, and FAQs.
St. Mary’s University
The most exciting development so far is the fact that so many faculty, staff and students have expressed interest in earning the new badges we are developing and they also want to earn the other existing microcredentials. The second most exciting development has been the number of undergraduate student volunteers offering to translate the content into Spanish, load content into Canvas and offering to facilitate the Badges so their peers can earn them. Many of these student volunteers would like to have this instructional design-oriented experience to prepare them to be more marketable as a teaching assistant for graduate schools.
The biggest a-ha about launching the Badges so far has been ease of taking care of the Internal Research Board approval. I expected that it would take several months, but it was handled in a matter of minutes. Probably the other a-ha was identifying another needed Badge called Hope. The consultant that is helping with our evaluation (works full-time with USAA in the innovation quantitative data area) is getting his Ph.D. in the study of Hope. Specifically, he is looking at Hope as a necessary component for future success of individuals that are disadvantaged. He is ready to build that Badge next!
Northwest Vista College
The most promising development is positive feedback that I have received from faculty who have heard of my project. Normally faculty is hesitant to add to their existing coursework. After I explained that it supplements what they already do, they have been more receptive to learning more about microcredentials.
My a-ha moment came when I conducted my first T-Profile session [to identify which 21st century skills are most important for specific job roles]. I realized the benefit for participants to go through this activity in order to self-assess their current skills inventory. Then, a gallery walk occurred (participants see firms with actual job positions listed), resulting in a highly productive conversation afterward.
Minnesota State IT Center of Excellence
We started the project with three institutions as part of the team, and now we have four … maybe five … that are on the team. We believe this is a testament to faculty’s interest in teaching 21st century skills and awarding digital badges, as well as students’ interest in Badges.
We’ve seen a range of enthusiasm from students across our four institutions, and have observed that older (e.g., juniors and seniors) four-year college students seem to be more receptive to the 21st century skills curriculum and Badges, versus the younger (e.g., freshman and sophomores) two-year college students, who seem to be less interested in participating. This may indicate that as students get closer to the workforce and these skills become more relevant, their interest increases. We are also observing less enthusiasm from students enrolled in an online course, compared to those learning in a traditional classroom setting. The reasons for this are not totally understood, but it could be that the online students don’t have easy access to their classmates to perform some of the assignments that require working with others (e.g., practicing active listening, team-building ice-breakers). Another surprise has been the need to focus more on helping faculty with the nitty-gritty implementation details, versus having to sell the value of the 21st century skills and the Badges.
About the Badging Fellows Initiative
After a competitive RFP process, we selected five innovators who have recommended important ways to scale and enhance the Lab’s 21st Century Skills Badges to meet the needs of historically underrepresented learners. The Fellows have the support of teams from their organizations to scale the projects outlined and develop a set of core learnings from and assets from their work by Fall 2020. Learn more about the Badging Fellows and their respective projects here.
Interested in starting a microcredentialing program and offering one or more of the Lab’s 21st Century Skills Badges?
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