Magazine article University Business

Millennial Demand Drives Badging Expansion

Magazine article University Business

Millennial Demand Drives Badging Expansion

Article excerpt

Almost all U.S. colleges and universities now award certificates, digital badges and other forms of microcredentials so students can quickly show an employer specialized skills they've acquired.

Driving this fast-growing trend are workforce millennials who want to learn, for instance, how to operate an Amazon delivery drone or repair a self-driving car without having to earn another degree, says James Fong, director of the Center for Research and Marketing Strategy at the University Professional and Continuing Education Association.

A generation immersed in social media, millennials are also drawn to the gamified aspect of collecting and displaying digital badges, says Fong, who recently completed a study on the growing influence of microcredentials (http:// UBmag.me/altcred) in higher ed.

"If an institution is good at tech, I think badging will advance faster," Fong said. "At small, private liberal arts schools--which didn't embrace online education as quickly--the need for badging might not be as high."

Stony Brook University on Long Island in New York has awarded 130 badges in its school of professional development since launching them just over a year ago. Most of the badges have gone to working professionals in HR management and higher ed administration.

"You may be waiting two or four years years to earn a degree, but you're developing skills and knowledge along the way--badges make this knowledge visible," says Ken Lindblom, interim dean for the School of Professional Development. …

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