CBE and badges

Digital Badges in Education

Competency-based education is a big issue at the moment in the US. The fourth chapter (‘Competency-Based Education and the Relationship to Digital Badges’) of Digital Badges in Education: Trends, Issues, and Cases makes some niche points in terms of national programmes, but also includes this very quotable section:

[C]ompetencies are a way to describe achievements, skills, and abilities in a way that can be understood by a variety of groups, without any need to determine the exact path of how these were acquired, whether through academic training or on-the-job experience. Using competencies as building blocks, digital badges serve as micro-credentials and give competencies a standardized visual format that can be shared among learners’ social and professional networks and/or displayed in e-portfolios using software plug-ins from badging platforms and then recognized by colleagues, educational institutions, and employers. The ability to link badges to artifacts, which are tied to competencies, allows the view to verify the knowledge and skill of the person holding the badge. With this deep connection, badges become more than a visual symbol, they are explicit evidence of skills, competencies, and experience.

As we saw with gamification, there’s both value and danger in aligning badges too closely with a particular programme or approach. That being said, CBE seems to be a very good fit for Open Badges – and an effective way to move the US away from its dependency on ‘seat time’.

For the rest of the world, particularly Europe where competency-based education is more ‘normal’, the above quotation is a useful one to use to reinforce that evidencing competencies using badges is a worthwhile thing to do!