Digital badges, also called digital credentials or micro-credentials, are online visual representations of skills and competencies earned through learning.
Several courses in the FAO elearning Academy are linked to a final certification test, aimed at verifying the acquisition of skills and competencies associated to those elearning courses. Certification is granted through the Digital Badges system.
A FAO digital badge offers learners a visible, verifiable and sharable recognition of their certification.
Watch the Webinar recording below about the FAO elearning Academy’s certification through the Digital Badges System.
Why are digital badges important?
Digital badges present a relevant innovation tool for digital inclusion. Especially for learners without access to formal education, digital badges can present a granular skill and knowledge showcase of learning over time in various contexts.
Core concepts of the new digital badge movement, in its role as a driver of educational reform, are the ideas of equity, inclusion, and transparency, as well as recognition of learning in diverse contexts.
The Open Badges standard links directly to Open Education and together they can facilitate social inclusion of disadvantaged groups such as women, migrants, refugees, individuals in conflict and post conflict areas, or those who are disenfranchised with
traditional schooling and face unequal access to education. At the FAO elearning academy, digital badges support Sustainable Development Goal 4 - Ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities
Digital badges present an intrinsic motivational tool, since learners can earn badges at their own pace and get visible recognition for leaning in both informal and formal contexts. Informal learning activities have often been invisible in the past, either
hidden within a wider context of either a work environment or a course of study. These specific learning activities can now be made visible with digital badges.
Learning achievements that can be verified through digital credentials offer individuals the opportunity showcase proof, evidence of their knowledge and competencies, and to share that proof with their current, or future employers. Skills-based hiring
makes it easier for hiring managers to eliminate bias, identify demonstrated skills, and hire efficiently. Including digital badges on resumes and applications helps to better match individuals with non-traditional or informal experience
and credentials to relevant employment opportunities.
Digital badges present a new, transparent way to identify talent based on competency, skills and knowledge directly associated to what is needed for a job position. Employees can progress in an organization by continuing their learning path by collecting
and showcasing credentials Being able to identify and surface verified skills, achievements, and recognition helps employers to match talent to the right jobs, thus favouring a fully meritocratic process.
What are the advantages of digital badges?
The advantages of digital badges to learners and course providers can be summarized within four categories, and these can be used as motivation to encourage learners to enrol in and complete learning activities. Digital badges are:
Badges allow an alternative way to earn visible validation for skills, knowledge and competency acquisition and achievements. They showcase a personalised life-long learning journey. Digital badges have been proposed as a system to recognize and communicate
achievement in a variety of learning contexts, particularly informal frameworks. As such, digital badges have the capacity to bridge formal and informal learning environments and to make learning in each context visible and recognized.
Badges can be displayed on social media, personal websites, e-mail signatures, e-portfolio and even on print resumes to showcase relevant skills and competencies acquired, as part of lifelong learning and provides greater access to employment and recognition
opportunities. Badges can be collected from multiple sources, on- and off-line, into a badge backpack, passport, or wallet – allowing learners to keep track of all the badges they're earned in one location.
Digital badge credentials differ from formal degree credentials in that they present a flexible, granular, skill-specific representation of skills, knowledge and competencies acquired over time. Especially when we talk about digital skills in the context
of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) or in 21st century skills. Building up a granular evidence portfolio could both close the STEM skills gap and provide more equitable access to STEM education opportunities,
since this is currently such a challenge in the employment world. Badges represent both formal and informal learning, as well as soft skills. It is only with granular micro-credentialing, that a leaner can showcase their achievements
from all these contexts in one professional learning portfolio.
Badges are not just a visual symbol, and they differ from paper-based certification in that they contain metadata (including a name, description, criteria, and recipient) that describe the learning activity in which they were awarded and the competencies
associated with it. FAO’s digital badges conform to the Open Badges standard which describes a method for packaging information about accomplishments, embedding it into portable image files as digital badges, and includes resources
for web-based validation and verification. The inherent metadata links back to the issuer, criteria and verifying evidence and can be coroborated for both authenticity and for the learning activity that they represent.