Digital Badges, Pt. 1

Posted 5/22/2018 on

In recent years, higher education institutions has experimented with a number of alternative means of credentialing both students and faculty. Rather than issue credits for semester-long classes, many schools have experimented with digital badges for very specific skills. Over the next few blog posts, I will discuss the development of digital badges as a means of faculty development at my institution.  

About My Institution

BH Carroll began in 2003 as a non-traditional seminary awarding accredited graduate degrees in theology and pastoral ministry.  The school is accredited by American Theological Schools and while courses were traditional offered in extension campuses (generally churches willing lend to space), more instruction is increasingly offered online.

About My Position

I was hired in 2017 as the Director of Online Instruction at BH Carroll Theological Institute to ensure the we have consistently high-quality online courses. My duties include auditing courses for quality control and creating learning opportunities for faculty.

Learning Needs

As a small institution, BH Carroll relies on part-time faculty to teach specific courses. While there is a corps of regular instructors, the school occasionally adds new faculty to teach specialized courses. Thus, there is a need for systematic training for faculty who might not congregate at a centralized campus. Some new faculty member might have taught at other institutions or have no experience teaching credit-bearing courses (though they normally have teaching experiences in informal settings). Other instructors who have been with the institution since its foundation might be more comfortable teaching at extension learning sites, but have not quite mastered online teaching tools.

When hired for this position, I was made aware of the need to move faculty across the ‘technological curve’, so to speak, and was also aware of the unique challenges of training faculty at our school. For one, I am the only person who works in my capacity and live in a different time zone. Second, because of our distributed learning model and small class size, we cannot feasibly conduct synchronous training. Creating miniature courses that culminate in a digital badge seems like a good fit for this type of training. Moodle is our learning management system, which supports Digital Badges, so there were  few technical hurdles to creating badges.

Over the new few blog posts, I will discuss the development of these courses. So tell me - if you hold a similar position as mine, how have you approached faculty development? Have you issued digital badges or created a certification process?  If you haven't created a digital badge certification system, are you considering one?