This paper aims to investigate the potential for digital badges to support alternate learning and career pathways in formal and informal learning environments. Stakeholder groups in higher education and industry discussed how digital badges might transform current processes of admitting undergraduate students and hiring young professionals.
This research uses a thematic analysis of in-depth interviews with 30 stakeholders in higher education and the technology industry.
Interview participants expressed optimism about the potential for digital badges to make learning pathways visible to learners and external audiences and to promote equity in STEM (STEM: science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education and careers. Participants noted several obstacles, largely focused on issues of credibility and logistics of working with badges across settings.
Though the research approach is limited in geographic scope, the findings have broad applicability and insight for the use of digital badges in general.
Education policymakers, employers and scholars will be able to use the insights from this investigation in their efforts to find innovative ways to expand and diversify the STEM workforce, as well as support a wider range of learners than is currently supported by initiatives aligned with the school-to-workforce pipeline metaphor.
This paper directly confronts issues of real-world applications of digital badges by discussing practical implications with college admissions officers and employers. The current study fills a need for research that investigates the use of digital badges across – as opposed to within – contexts.
The authors thank the National Science Foundation for its support of this research under grant DRL-1452672. They would also like to thank Ada Kim for her work on this project, as well as the science center staff and students who participated in the research and all interviewees.
Pitt, C., Bell, A., Strickman, R. and Davis, K. (2019), "Supporting learners’ STEM-oriented career pathways with digital badges", Information and Learning Sciences, Vol. 120 No. 1/2, pp. 87-107. https://doi.org/10.1108/ILS-06-2018-0050Download as .RIS
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