Why Do They Matter?

We know that students, parents, and the general public expect universities to prepare students for life after graduation—whether that is a job or more academic study. We also know that students sometimes have difficulty identifying and understanding how their newly acquired marketable skills can translate to the workplace and how to showcase these skills to employers. Higher education must do more to encourage students to identify and document the range of their real-world, engaging experiences and marketable skills, and meaningfully collect, frame, and tailor them for potential employers upon graduation. Credentials are one new way of meeting these challenges.

During our implementation process, we made an important discovery about badges and credentials. Our original motivation was to create signals that held meaning for employers, and thus for students. But it became clear to us we could probably never create a signaling system that would satisfy the diverse and wide range of potential employers. It was a moment of reckoning for us, so in a light bulb moment, the team realized that it was far more important and a much higher priority that we send the signal TO STUDENTS. We saw that, as a higher education institution, it would be most important to help students understand and articulate their skills and learning.