Standard for Open Digital Badging

IACET is dedicated to bringing its experience, its leadership, and its value as trusted, third-party Accreditor to the digital badging ecosystem.

Why is IACET in the Open Digital Badging Ecosystem?

Historically, IACET has focused solely on the Continuing Education Unit (CEU).  Starting in 1970 when IACET, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Education task force created and defined the CEU following a study the measurement of non-credit continuing education activities. The continuing education unit (CEU) was designed to:

  • Provide a standard unit of measurement for continuing education and training,
  • Quantify continuing education and training (CE/T) activities, and
  • Accommodate for the diversity of providers, activities, and purposes in adult education.

Throughout the five decades since the creation of the CEU, IACET has worked tirelessly to protect the integrity of the CEU and to ensure that companies, regulators and learners could trust that continuing education and training was valuable and effective.

Today, Open Digital Badging faces many of the same struggles that continuing education and training faced 50 years ago; struggles that IACET helped to overcome. IACET wants to bring its experience, its leadership, and its value as trusted, third-party Accreditor to the digital badging ecosystem.

One of the biggest barriers associated with digital badging today is determining how to make them more authentic to employers and regulators.  The perception is that digital badges are not credible because anyone can make a badge about anything.  How can an employer trust that a worker has the skill for which he has a badge?  How can a regulator verify that the licensee acquired the proficiency a digital badge asserts he has?

That’s where IACET fills the gap.  By providing an independent, third-party accreditation of digital badge issuers, IACET can bring gravitas to the Open Digital Badging ecosystem.

Micro-credentialing through open digital badging has the potential to change education, workforce development, regulatory requirements for learners, education providers, employers and governments.  But only if there is a trusted, third-party, independent organization that can put it's seal of approval on the credential.

Just like 50 years ago, IACET forged a way to make the CEU meaningful as a measure of education, so today does it seek to make digital badging a meaningful way to recognize and evidence accomplishments and skills of those who have earned it.

IACET believes that the 21st century continuing education and training that you are providing deserves a 21st century credential.

What has IACET done so far?

In response to industry trends and stakeholder needs, IACET has convened a group of experts from the digital badging ecosystem who developed a set of specifications that details the metadata and quality assurance traits for open digital badges (ODB). IACET plans to release those specifications as guidance to organizations who wish to issue high-quality digital badges.

Not all digital badges are equal in terms of effort and significance. As part of the specification work, the IACET Open Digital Badging Taskforce developed the IACET Open Digital Badging Taxonomy, a system to classify different kinds of digital badges. The IACET Open Digital Badging Taxonomy is designed to help decision makers better identify certain types of badges for fast, easy, and in some cases automated decision making. Download the new Open Digital Badge Taxonomy that is part of the forthcoming IACET Guidance for Open Digital Badges.

IACET has created four (4) educational courses to provide members and other adult learning stakeholders opportunities to learn about Open Digital Badging credentials and how to effectively implement them in adult learning environments. Since, the IACET 1-2018 Standard for Continuing Education and Training requires processes involving record keeping and transcripts, Open Digital Badging is a natural extension of these elements of that important standard.

IACET's forthcoming IACET Guidance for Open Digital Badges does not replace IMS Global's metadata standard.  IACET fully supports and will actively promote adherence to this important IMS Global work.  IACET's specification is designed to complement the IMS Global Standard by providing a qualitative framework.  IACET stakeholders have identified that badges are being used in a broad series of applications.  For professional continuing education and training purposes, IACET believes that Open Digital Badges should be designed in a quality way that correctly, accurately, authentically, and fully represent the credential it depicts.  

IACET's planned future for Open Digital Badges

IACET, as an ANSI Standards Development Organization, and as an Accreditation Agency plans to use the forthcoming IACET Guidance for Open Digital Badges document created by the Open Digital Badging taskforce as a springboard to develop a full-fledged Open Digital Badging Standard and accreditation program. This program will allow education providers who want to stand out as world-class issuers of digital badges will be able to earn a designation of Accredited Digital Badge Issuer from IACET.

IACET also plans to create tools for regulators and employers be able to use to verify with IACET if a digital badge was earned from an Accredited Digital Badge Issuer. Once verified, regulators and employers can rest assured that the digital badge presented as proof of competence is authentic and trustworthy.

IACET will also implement the IACET Open Digital Badging marketing plan advancing a strategic objective to improve the CE/T ecosystem with knowledge, resources and standards regarding Open Digital Badges.  Open Digital Badges and its advantages are unknown to many providers as the technology is still new to many. IACET has an opportunity to fill a knowledge gap and set a standard for Open Digital Badges in the industry.

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