Until recently, universities, students, and employers have relied on academic credit hours to underpin degrees, certificates, and certifications. This construct is rapidly becoming “old school” as information-age adults acquire knowledge and skills that are interest-driven and developed through multiple modes of enquiry, on their own. While the use of information technology has been integrated with higher education since the advent of personal computers and the Internet, it is in the last decade that the movement to certify knowledge and skills gained outside the classroom, often online, has emerged. Today, employers, universities, and students are engaged in creating and earning digital badges that provide proof of knowledge and skill mastery, demonstrated through competency-based assessments.

In 2011, the Mozilla Foundation, in collaboration with the MacArthur Foundation, launched the Open Badges project to develop standards that require badges to have embedded metadata on the details of the badge and the context of the achievement it represents. At minimum, it must include the name of the badge, the criteria for earning it expressed in competency standards or learning outcomes, evaluation rubrics, the badge URL, issue date, issuer, and recipient. Today, universities are partnering with employers both to develop badged learning opportunities and to evaluate badges for college credit. This presentation delves into how universities in the US are leveraging badges to provide value to students and employers.