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The Importance of Digital Badges in Higher Education

One of the most challenging obstacles you face when looking for a job is clearly showing potential employers the skills you have acquired. For instance, you pursue a degree to acquire knowledge in a certain field, or build upon your prior experience, to prepare for your career when you graduate.However, there are more and more opportunities available to learn skills outside of the traditional college environment. The issue has been how to show the competencies you have gained from those programs, such as the NSLS. 

To address that need, many organizations have turned to digital badges or certifications that show the skills you have acquired by completing certain tasks. At the NSLS, we’re proud to launch our own digital badges in the coming weeks to showcase the competencies you acquire as you progress through our leadership development program.

Continue reading to learn more about the importance of digital badges, their benefits, and how to earn your badges from the NSLS.

What Are Digital Badges?

Digital badges have emerged in the past decade as a game-changer, both in higher education and the world in general. Simply put, digital badges, or digital certifications, are the digital version of traditionally paper certifications, such as a driver’s license, passport, or educational certificate.

As more companies, such as IBM, HubSpot, Google, and others offer digital badges for completing certain programs, these certifications make it easy to convey skills you have acquired.

Badges make it easy for a hiring manager to visit an applicant's online profile and immediately identify the desired skills and the effort a candidate has put in beyond their formal education. These badges show that you believe in continuous learning and in participating in programs that will further your career.

THE VALUE OF DIGITAL CREDENTIALS

The long-term career benefits of digital credentials are obvious. However, we also recognize the importance of badging as a tool to maintain member motivation as you go through our leadership programs. 

Jonathan Finkelstein, founder and CEO of Credly, one of the leaders in the field, recently described digital badging to Training Magazine as "mapping a clear pathway for students, members, and employees to understand where they have been and where they are headed on their lifelong learning journey…As individuals notice that their opportunities increase with each earned badge, they are motivated to learn more." 

This type of motivation is similar to earning your degree. You realize the value in learning skills, networking with peers, and building a community. Similarly, digital badges represent that you have successfully completed a program and have acquired certain competencies. 

Consequently, earning badges from accredited programs and organizations, such as the NSLS, conveys the expansive learning and knowledge demonstrated while attaining them.

Chrys Ennis, senior manager, New Technology, Learning & Development, said in the same article for Training Magazine:

"When used effectively in conjunction with other content elements, badging can encourage learning through sparking interest and motivating or engaging learners. To be effective, badging strategies need to have meaning and fit within the context of and framework of the learning experience."

BENEFITS OF DIGITAL BADGES

Many companies, institutions, and organizations are launching digital badges and certifications because of the impact it can have for both employers and job seekers. For instance, some of the benefits of digital badges:

  • Provides recognition for acquiring new skills.

  • Allows hiring managers to easily see acquired competencies.

  • Motivates students and members to develop new skills.

  • Develops members’ career by teaching new skills.

  • Reveal members’ passion for continuous learning.

These benefits, plus others, such as being able to brag about your accomplishment on social media, are just some of the reasons why we’re excited to launch our digital badges.

THE NSLS DIGITAL BADGES

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When we launch our digital badges in the coming weeks, you can earn the certifications as you complete the accredited leadership development program. Then, you’ll be able to easily add them to your LinkedIn profile, share on social media, and add them to your resume.

Then, hiring managers can click through to see the specific competencies our members have acquired. Often, these are the interpersonal skills that are important in the modern workplace, such as communication, empathy, and conflict resolution. 

You’ll earn digital badges by reaching certain milestones in our Foundations of Leadership, Advanced Leadership, and Executive Leadership programs. Below, the badges are detailed with descriptions of what was required to earn.

FOL 101-1: Orientation and Leadership Training Day

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Some of the competencies earned for the first badge are:

  • Understanding of personal communication styles.

  • Creating purpose statements and personal vision statements.

  • Defining group goals.

  • Utilizing tools and research to complete projects.

  • Identifying long-term goals and hitting goal milestones.

FOL 101-2: Becoming an Inducted Member

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The competencies earned in this badge go beyond the first one and include: 

  • The learned definition of what leadership is and what different styles of leadership exist.

  • Defining a life mission, created a vision statement, and a legacy narrative.

  • Discovering personal strengths and preventing the overuse of these strengths.

  • Creating a confident, personal elevator pitch.

  • Understanding the dynamics of social responsibility, social change, social justice, and diversity.

ADV 201: Complete Advanced Program

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Some of the competencies earned during the Advanced Leadership Program are:

  • Understanding the stages teams go through as they evolve.

  • The knowledge and utilization of design thinking and creating a project plan.

  • Effective communication skills, when engaging with senior managers and co-workers.

  • Comprehending how emotional intelligence can help a group navigate conflict more effectively.

  • Understanding the skills in researched theories with group dynamics and effective teamwork.

EXEC 301: Complete Executive Program

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Finally, some of the skills acquired during the Executive Leadership Program are:

  • The learned value of both innovation and creativity.

  • Understanding the benefits of failure and practicing resilience in everyday life.

  • Acquiring skills of how to be a mentee, mentor, and how a mentor can help reach personal goals.

  • Completing a community service project.

  • Understanding the benefits of civic responsibility and its relationship to leadership. 

LEARN MORE ABOUT EARNING DIGITAL BADGES FROM THE NSLS

We’re proud to launch our digital badges over the next couple of months so that our members can easily share the skills they’ve acquired by going through our program. For NSLS members, after completing the above-mentioned steps, you can simply claim and download your earned badges, then promote them on LinkedIn, Indeed, Career Builder, and all other career sites to verify your professional competencies. 

If you’re an NSLS member, be on the lookout for our upcoming announcement as we launch our digital badges.

If you’re not a member, learn more about the benefits of joining the NSLS.