Digital Credentials Institute Launched

May 9, 2018

Digital Credentials Institute Launched

photo of Kate RadionoffI am very pleased to announce the launch of the Digital Credentials Institute (DCI). The Institute is a collaboration between Madison Area Technical College and IMS Global, with input from other key stakeholders in North America and Europe. The primary focus of DCI is to conduct research on badges and micro-credentials and to document best practices in K-12, higher education, employee training and talent development.

Badges have come a long way in the past ten years. They started out as a concept to support youth development programming at the MacArthur Foundation. From there the concept of badges and the open badging platform were released globally via the MacArthur Foundation and Mozilla. Fast forward to 2018, Open Badges are now guided by IMS Global, and badges have evolved beyond the question of whether or not you are issuing badges. Rather, the decision to issue badges has become a complex series of questions that an employer or educator needs to consider before deploying.

For example, consider the question of what type of badge will you be issuing and why? Are your badges formal or informal? Peer to peer or via a third-party issuer? Are your badges internally or externally validated? What are you trying to accomplish with your badging program? What student or employer needs are you meeting? A successful badging program needs to be carefully thought out and then articulated into a plan of action.

What are the hallmarks of a successful badging program? What defines success and how do you measure it? Currently there are no definitive guidelines or best practices. The Digital Credentials Institute will conduct research and document micro-credential programs in North America and Europe with the goal of answering these questions and shedding much needed light on the breadth and depth of Open Badge adoption.

Another issue is how to effectively link badging programs with the goal of developing a hierarchy that follows the individual from K-12 to higher education and then onto their career. What linkages exist between badges that a student earns in high school and potential credit for prior learning that carries into a college degree program? Can non-credit badges be articulated into a degree credit program? Will employers accept higher education badges as evidence that a job candidate has mastered specific skills? What about badges that an adult earns from employer training? Can these adult workers earn college credit from employer training programs that award badges and micro-credentials?

The potential for badges and micro-credentials to meet workforce needs is exciting.  However, much work needs to be done to understand and fulfill the potential. IMS Global and the Digital Credentials Institute will be diligently exploring this space over the next several years. If you are interested in reviewing our research and case studies, please email me at: I will add you to our client email list.

Kate Radionoff
Executive Director
Digital Credentials Institute