Digital Badges

A digital badge is a validated acknowledgement of specific skills or knowledge a person gains across different learning experiences. A badge is one type of micro-credential that helps the earner represent these learning achievements digitally, using a branded symbol the earner can share on professional and social networks of his or her choosing, and/or by email. Northeastern creates, shares, and issues digital badges through the Credly platform.

Types of Badges

Digital badge by Northeastern University

Many types of learning experiences, including both credit and non-credit types, can be aligned to a digital badge. At Northeastern, we make a distinction between badges associated with non-credit, co-curricular experiences, and badges associated with credit-bearing, curriculum-based experiences. Northeastern is developing a distinctive look and feel for both badge types; this visual branding will help badge earners and others communicate what value and meaning the badge has across different learning contexts. The badge shown at right is is from an executive education program delivered to a corporate client by the DMSB’s Executive Education group.

Curriculum-aligned badges:

Non-credit or Co-curricular badges:

Who typically earns them?

Current students completing courses and programs at Northeastern

Current students; NU alumni; corporate-based learners; workshop participants

What is required to earn the badge?

The badge is aligned to existing course requirements. The faculty member decides what requirements should ‘trigger’ the issuing of the badge.

Completion of the learning experience and/or any additional requirements specified by the facilitator of that experience.

When are they typically issued?*

When the earner successfully demonstrates the knowledge and/or skills the badge addresses

When the earner successfully completes the criteria to earn the badge

Where can they be shared?

Social and professional networks; resumes and CVs; portfolios; email and text

How does one decide what to badge?

Learning experiences that focus focused on developing specific skills and knowledge recognized and valued both within and beyond the academic context.

* Some badges may be issued retroactively to the earner, based on documented evidence she or he has completed the requirements.

Badges and Academic Credit

A badge represents a validated learning achievement that can occur within, or outside of, a credit-bearing course or program; however, a digital badge is not a form of academic credit.

Some badges indicate that the badge earner participated in and/or completed an event or activity. Though this type of experience cannot be aligned to credit, it has value to the badge earner in other ways.

‘Stacking’ badges into credit

Some digital badges make it easier for learners to connect non-credit experiences to the requirements associated with academic programs by highlighting attributes that have value and meaning across both contexts. In these cases, Northeastern determines whether there is sufficient equivalency between the badged experience and the requirements of a specific course to award prior learning credit for that experience. So long as the attributes remain the same in both contexts, the credit equivalency will apply, and anyone who earns that badge and meets other admission criteria will be given the option to ‘stack’ their badge into the program.

In all instances, badges can be understood as tools for connecting prior learning with new learning and experience, over the course of a lifetime.

Want to learn more? Contact badging@northeastern.edu to set up a consultation with OEL’s badging team.

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