UD PCS Instructional Design badges
UD’s Division of Professional and Continuing Studies (UD PCS) helped launch UD’s digital credentialing initiative. Shown here is an example of the digital badges and certificate earned upon successful completion of the UD PCS Instructional Design Certificate program.

UD enters digital credentialing universe

Program graduates and employers benefit from immediately-delivered virtual credentials

Diplomas or certificates framed on your wall, copies of transcripts stored in your files – until recently, those were the time-honored means of demonstrating, displaying or storing your educational credentials.

But both the educational and employment landscapes have evolved in recent decades, with exponential growth in the online environments around learning, recruiting, hiring and more. At the same time, the focus on our online personal and professional brands has dramatically increased, evidenced by the importance of our LinkedIn profiles and other professional platforms where we seek to differentiate ourselves and communicate our professional identity.

Not much has changed in the world of our high school or college diplomas, degrees and transcripts, which are generally accepted and verifiable by employers across industries and professions. But credentials or documentation for nearly all other types of professional development education or skill enhancement activities is far less standardized.

For an increasing number of education providers and institutions, as well as for the students and professionals who are completing their courses and programs, digital badges are becoming the credential of choice. Digital certificates and badges provide an immediately-delivered credential that users can display electronically on their social media accounts upon successfully completing a course or program, and that potential employers can instantly verify on a vetted, authenticated platform.

The University of Delaware recently entered the digital credentialing universe, adopting the Accredible platform for managing digital credentials for noncredit programming at UD. The launch of digital credentials began last semester with UD’s Division of Professional and Continuing Studies (UD PCS) taking the lead on the first round of UD’s digital badging initiative.

“As the pilot-program unit selected for UD’s digital credentialing initiative, we’re pleased to report our badging efforts have been very successful,” said Vic Wang, director of noncredit professional programs for UD PCS. “The badges were well received, and from our initial data, we can see that participants are engaging and sharing their digital badges on multiple channels.”

“More than 250 badges have been issued to program graduates since the beginning of this initiative, in programs from clinical trials management, to cybersecurity, brewing science and more,” reported Debra Fields, program manager for UD PCS career services. “So far, about a third of those have shared the badge on their LinkedIn account, which we think is a huge plus for their professional brand.”

“It’s a simple way to show what you have achieved instead of writing out everything,” said one recent program graduate who earned a UD PCS digital badge. “All employers need to do is scan your badge to see what you have completed.”

From the beginning, UD’s badging initiative focused on noncredit, professional education programs and courses at UD, which did not have a University-wide method of documenting and issuing credentials to program graduates.

Key in UD’s decision process was adopting a platform that complied with the internationally recognized Open Badges Specification, developed and certified by 1EdTech Consortium, the world’s leading member-based nonprofit community partnership of educational providers, state/national departments of education and educational technology suppliers.

UD’s research and implementation effort was led by a cross-functional working group with broad representation from UD units including UD PCS, IT Project Management Office, Center for Teaching & Assessment of Learning, Registrar’s Office, Human Resources, Career Center, English Language Institute, and UD Library, Museums and Press. A UD Badging Governance Committee was subsequently formed, chaired by Wang, with the aim of providing oversight for the planned University-wide digital credentialing implementation.

Added Wang, “We are proud to offer our participants this method of showcasing their accomplishments on their professional networks, and proud to play a leading role in moving UD forward into the digital credentialing environment.”

For more information about digital badges at UD, visit pcs.udel.edu/digitalcredentials.