Digital Badges at Syracuse University: Recognizing and Authenticating Microcredential Moments in Higher Education

Microcredentials: Filling Skill Gaps and Expanding Opportunities

Microcredentials play a unique role in helping students to upskill or reskill to be more competitive in the job market. By providing short and focused learning experiences, when and where students need it, microcredentials allow students to build a portfolio of demonstrated learning in a short amount of time, whether for professional advancement or personal interest.

The Office of Professional Acceleration and Microcredentials within the College of Professional Studies at Syracuse University was launched in 2021 to expand the University’s portfolio of alternative learning credentials, including noncredit certificates, courses and workshops. Alongside the launch of this new office is the introduction of digital badges. While official diplomas issued by accredited institutions remain the gold standard for credit-bearing certificate and degree programs, digital badges are fast becoming a similar standard for marking the successful achievement of professional microcredentials.

Digital Badges: Validating Learning Experiences

Through our digital badging platform, Syracuse University will recognize successful completion and demonstration of learning by issuing digital badges at various learning levels such as foundational, intermediate and advanced.

“When a Syracuse University College, School or special other unit awards a digital badge for an achievement, it means the achievement has been assessed and is now being recognized by that College, School or unit,” says Arthur Thomas, executive director of professional acceleration and microcredentials.

Digital badges serve as more than just an icon that can be shared on social media platforms like LinkedIn. The earning criteria listed on the digital badge help external evaluators and employers determine how to value the achievement of a particular digital badge against their own competency expectations. The result is an online validation of an authenticated learning experience.

Powerful Packs of Learning: Personalized Learning and Stackable Badges

Individualized learning goals can be created, tracked and met due to the ability to pursue microcredentials at various levels and on different topics. Students can choose to customize their learning journey by pursuing one or multiple microcredentials that round out their skills for a specific career path or goal. Students may also take advantage of pre-designed pathways featuring courses of advancing depth, which allow for increased knowledge of a specific skillset or subject and earn more advanced digital badges.  

“The ability to assemble microcredentials into a combination that is unique for a particular individual serves to define their professional brand,” Thomas says. “A student can assemble a powerful portfolio of digital badges that tells the story of their academic journey.”

The Office of Professional Acceleration and Microcredentials will work with all schools and colleges on the Syracuse University campus who want to issue digital badges to their students.

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