Addressing the Skills Gap with Micro-Credentialing: Part 2

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How to Recognize Your Learners’ Brilliance!

You were inspired by reading part one of this article, and you’ve decided to try micro-credentials at your organization. Congratulations! You understand the value in creating micro-credentials, but now you need some guidance to move forward. Part two will help you create a badge framework and promote micro-credentialing at your organization.

What Badges Should Our Organization Create?

Begin by answering some fundamental questions:

  1. What do we value in our employees?
  2. What skills do you want to recognize both now and in the future?
  3. Are these badges for fun, compliance, or to measure the development of certain skill sets? (You can have all of these!)
  4. Will you be tying these badges to competencies? Do you have competencies mapped for each role?
  5. Will you need to create different badges for different departments? How will you differentiate between them?
  6. Will you share these badges across multiple courses?
  7. Are you using meta-badges that consist of multiple badges (also known as stacked credentials)?

7 Badging Best Practices

Keeping in mind your answers to the above questions, consider these seven tips:

1.   Tie the badges to the core competencies that your organization needs.

This is where most organizations miss the mark. Instead of creating meaningful micro-credentials based on performance of key skills benchmarked to competency frameworks for specific roles, they create a series of fun badges that don’t get recognized because they aren’t tied to professional development.

2.   Create badges based on completion, measurement, progress, and experience.

If you only issue badges every time someone answers on a discussion forum or completes a course, then you’re missing out on the continuous and never-ending nature of learning. Your badging system should recognize different levels of mastery. Add indicators like stars to demonstrate progression. Provide lower-level badges based on progress and demonstrated measurement of lower-level (Bloom’s) tasks, such as quiz completion. Graduate your employees to higher levels based on continued experience.

3.   Create badges that represent organizational values as well as technical skills and durable skills like the 4 Cs (collaboration, creativity, communication, and critical thinking).

Think about the skill gaps you’ve identified in your organization and consider ways to reward individuals who are taking the time and making the effort to improve themselves in key areas. Remember that most of these badges will need to be manually issued, so you’ll want to involve leaders in their administration.

4.      Don’t give everyone the same badges.

One thing we all know from our gamification theory is that there’s power in scarcity! Make badges that are specific to departments and roles so that employees can aspire to maximize their talents. Using these credentials as currency in the workplace helps create career pathing and incentivize professional development.

4 badges on the left with a bigger badge on the right5.  Create meta-badges that are challenging to get.

Any skill needed in the workplace is made up of multiple competencies, and your micro-credentials should reflect that. Meta-badging, or stacked credentials, a more complex way to structure your badging, requires multiple badges to earn a meta-badge! Imagine after you’ve received badges for communication, creativity, critical thinking, and collaboration that you receive a Super 4C badge that demonstrates your interpersonal genius!

6.   Create a variety of badge types, not just micro-credentials.

Badges can motivate and incentivize, and they don’t all have to be based on competencies. Personally, I’m very proud of the badge I got from D2L last year for my contest-winning chili. I’m not going to share this with the world, but it incentivizes me to participate more in company functions when I know there’s a little reward and recognition at the end. If badging isn’t at least a little bit fun, it may not provide all the value it can.

7.   Start small, test, and expand.

Don’t begin with a massive rollout of 100 badges. Start small. You’ll find it easy to set up (you can use a table template in a word processor to help you plan), but it’s easier to test the efficacy of the badge types that resonate with your organization if you have a smaller set and test group.

Micro-credentialing has the potential to make lasting change in your organization and empower your employees to take control of their careers. For more information on micro-credentials, IMS Global is the consortium responsible for Open Badges stewardship. Their website is a great resource to help you advance your strategy for credentialing! I’ve also found openbadges.org to be a good primer for getting started.

Best of luck with your credentialing strategy, and please share your success and questions!

Want to find out about badging in action? See how Kaplan Financial gamified accountancy courses with points, badges, and leaderboards—boosting engagement and performance.