Standing out from the crowd with digital badges

We spoke with Mary-Ellen, a volunteer looking to develop her skills, to talk about her experiences of digital badges

Edward Emond
Advice and Training Manager

Mary-Ellen has taken part in a number of courses through The Mix’s Skill Up. She has written this blog outlining her experiences of digital badges.

I first came across digital badges in 2015 on the Canvas Network as I was looking for free, online courses (often called MOOCS – Massive Open Online Courses) to continue with expanding my education. Due to ill health, I had not been able to progress on to postgraduate study as planned, and so I wanted to continue learning while I was recovering.

“I realised that I really liked the concept”

I had mixed feelings when I first thought about the concept of digital badges as I didn’t know much about them in general. Do many learning platforms award them? Are they widely recognised? How worthwhile are they? After earning a few badges, I realised that I really liked the concept having seen how effective they are at showcasing my achievements compared to alternatives. I often look for and take part in many different online courses. Most offer a certificate or transcript that you have to pay for at the end. Personally, I would file away certificates and forget about them whereas badges give you an immediate online presence. You can display them across digital platforms, be that a blog or social channel, where they can be rather eye-catching!

‘Digital badges can be great if you are looking to impress future employers’

When talking to employers, digital badges help to illustrate the skills that I have gained and developed through online learning. I’ve heard that employers run online searches on their potential employees, not only to see how they come across outside of work but also on professional platforms such as LinkedIn.

A CV is generally 1-2 pages long. It can be hard to condense and articulate the relevant skills and experience whilst standing out. Badges are still relatively new and so can add a uniqueness to your application. What’s more, they contain a lot of information about what the badge covers, helping the employer see their value. I upload my badges to my LinkedIn profile so that any prospective employer will see my commitment to self-progression. Equally, you can create and print a portfolio which you can take to interviews to help when you are talking about the skills you have learnt from online courses.

Soft-skill courses can highlight a variety of skills

The badge itself gives away the focus of the course, but you learn so much alongside this. For example with the Problem-Solving course, I learnt about communication and teamwork skills too. When applying for jobs, it is important to talk about and demonstrate transferable skills and the badge helps with this.

I was interested in taking the course because it’s a topic you encounter in all aspects of life. I am currently a volunteer mentor on another website, and I’m thinking about teacher training so I felt it was valuable to me. The course explained that effective communication was the corner stone of problem solving; it’s so easy to get caught up in arguments and the ‘blame game’. I learnt of the importance of self-reflection and identifying the problem first. Later, we looked at the process of finding and implementing a solution. All of this wouldn’t be possible without good communication and so it was helpful that the course examined how to give and receive constructive criticism. I can definitely see myself using these skills in the workplace!

Thinking of earning a digital badge?

Go for it! Whether you are just curious about learning something new, wanting to build on previous skills and knowledge, or simply wanting to impress employers and work colleagues, it’s worth the time and effort earning the digital badges. Head over to Skill Up to take a look at what The Mix has to offer, and sign up today!

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Published on 06-Jan-2017