Badging & Certification

Badges: psychology, usage, future

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Badges example: my son

My son is too young for all IT industry discussions around badges. But he has shown me last year the power of a badge system. It was during our winter vacation. My son is skiing with me for eight years. I assume it was due to doing lots of sports he is doing in general that he was bored already in his first ski course. So, he preferred to learn skiing with me. No more ski courses as he always said. For two years he is going down black slopes in short turns. He loves skiing.

Last year he surprised me: He suddenly showed me at the local ski school the picture of the different badges you can earn if you attend a ski course. And he asked to get a badge. I explained that he is beyond all the badges. I told him it is not needed to get a badge and that he is skiing well. A badge is not changing that. But he was disappointed. He wanted a badge. There was a huge fight that I could not give him one. And I think if there would have been time he would have wanted to attend a ski course to get a badge.

My son is not having friends who ski well. Nobody ever talked to him about credentials. There are no friends who are having one. But he discovered the approach and wanted a badge.

I’m still impressed by this request. And since then I know one more example why we’re having a badge system at IBM. There is a certain psychological aspect once there is a reward system while learning (and lots of other reasons as you can see below).

Use of Badges

The IBM badge program got awards in 2017 for its success. Similar to my son it motivates lots of people to acquire more skills. It helps to measure skills in the market. It is helping HR departments to understand evolution of skills in their company.

There are also now applications that are analyzing badge data. Help HR to structure skills. There are also tools to help recruiting the right people using badges. In addition there are badges shared between Universities and Industry. The world of usage is growing every quarter. And we have not yet reached an end.

The future

As companies realize already today the meaning of badges, key influencers predict badges’ popularity will increase immensely. “Digital badges have the potential to be the fuel for applicant tracking systems and resources management systems,” David Leaser (senior manager of innovation for IBM’s training and skills organization) says. He expects them to enrich skills and learning systems, improve credential programs, and provide a “digital transcript that creates a common language between organizations” when it comes to evaluating employee skills.



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