Badging & Certification

Northeastern University + IBM: Turning digital badges into academic credentials will create opportunities and better college graduates

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Northeastern University published a press release announcing our innovative collaboration using IBM Digital Badges. IBM employees, customers, and members of the public can now use IBM issued badge credentials toward three Northeastern professional master’s degree programs—data analytics, project management, and portfolio management—with 51 additional graduate degrees and 17 certificate programs to follow.

Game changer: converting industry knowledge to college credit

This is a game changer because we can now capture industry knowledge developed at IBM and convert that into college credit. IBM Digital Badges are now valued as “digital transcripts” allowing us to validate industry skills in ways we could not have even a few years ago. The Open Badge standard makes this possible.

People who develop skills through selected IBM courses will be given prior learning course credit toward an advanced online degree at a Tier 1 university.

IBM + Northeastern: A pilot begins

Here are the pilot programs Northeastern University established for students who would like to participate:

Analytics Program: Anyone who take courses at Cognitive Class is eligible for advanced standing of 1 elective course in the Northeastern program – totaling 3 credits.

Project Management: Anyone who holds one of IBM’s Project Management badges is eligible for advanced standing within a range of Northeastern’s professional graduate programs.

This program advances the already strong partnership between Northeastern and IBM,” Robert McDonald, vice president for support transformation and training at IBM, said.To be successful in today’s workforce every one of us must be on a continuous learning path throughout our careers as virtually every profession is changing with the introduction of technologies like artificial intelligence and the cloud. This program will enable IBMers and others to enhance their skills and apply them in the workplace, which benefits clients and employees’ careers.

We must eliminate the gap between learning and work,” Philomena Mantella, senior vice president and CEO of the Professional Advancement Network at Northeastern, said. “This new collaboration with IBM illustrates our commitment to partnering with employers to design innovative pathways for learners to continuously advance their skills and achieve their professional goals.”

IBM issues digital credentials in more than 1,000 in programs from design thinking to data analytics to project management. More than half of those badges have been matched to a large number of programs in Northeastern’s academic portfolio. These programs will be made available to badge holders in the future.

A smarter way to address the skills gap for the 21st-century workforce

Moving forward, this broad collaboration will further establish Northeastern and IBM as leaders in embedding and integrating learning in the workplace. This effort helps to address the skills gap in artificial intelligence, analytics, cybersecurity, and other in-demand fields, providing the skills and knowledge lifelong learners need to stay current with ever-changing technologies and to succeed in the 21st-century workforce.

At IBM, the population of learners earning digital badges is truly global and multigenerational, with employees, customers and other learners representing more than 190 countries around the world. Digital badges are part of IBM’s robust education and professional development strategy. We invest $500 million annually in the professional development of employees, reinforcing a culture of lifelong learning and development. IBMers completed more than 26 million hours of learning in 2016. In the United States, nearly half of those learning hours were consumed by IBMers over the age of 50.

Opening doors: Developing better college graduates (and a better workforce)

This program is going to open doors for employees and customers and people seeking jobs. And it is going to help us develop better college graduates and a better workforce. A student who earns a college degree at Northeastern University can now enrich his/her experience with a “minor” in real-time technology from IBM. This program will have far-reaching implications into the ways institutions collaborate with industry to develop a better workforce and create more opportunities.

For more information, visit northeastern.edu/IBM.

David Leaser is the senior executive of innovation for IBM’s Training & Skills organization. Leaser is the founder of the IBM Digital Badge Program, the developer of IBM’s first cloud-based embedded learning solution and the author of thought leadership white papers on talent development, including “Migrating Minds” and “The Social Imperative in Workforce Development.” Leaser has trained more than 4,000 clients and authored more than 30 technology training manuals and video tutorials. You can reach David on LinkedIn or Twitter @david_leaser.

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