With the expansion of online programs, formal education has moved beyond the walls of traditional campuses and into the homes of people worldwide. The tech revolution in education has also changed how students demonstrate the achievement of educational milestones, with the digital badge emerging as one of the most popular ways to show mastery of a new skill or topic.

While college degrees remain the foundation for professionals, digital badges offer a method for business leaders to acquire knowledge and stay on top of trends as their careers progress. Digital badges engage students, keep pace with technological change, provide professionals with continuing education in a flexible format, and develop skills needed for business success in the 21st century.

The Kelley School of Business at Indiana University is committed to providing digital badge programs that enable business professionals to master new skills and gain valuable credits toward earning online certificates and graduate degrees.

Benefits of a Digital Badge

A digital badge is a validated indicator that represents skills or knowledge beyond those learned in degree, certificate, and certification programs. Digital badges recognize achievement and establish credibility. Earning one can serve as a motivator for working professionals to learn new skills.

Online digital badge programs help professionals create a flexible coursework schedule that’s built around existing business and personal obligations. Badge earners share their accomplishments by posting them on social media, online portfolios, and resumes. Earning a digital badge can lead to new connections, credit toward a certificate or degree, and a new level of interest for potential promotions.

An IBM Case Study in Digital Badges

In 2011, IBM created Big Data University, a community initiative that offers valuable training for free to developers and data scientists (it’s now called Cognitive Class). As more people began to enroll in big data programs, IBM noticed a trend: While the Big Data University website drew high traffic, many students did not complete the course or take the final examination.

IBM engineers looked into using digital badges to improve engagement with software developers using IBM data products and taking the free courses. Software engineers at Mozilla, with funding from the MacArthur Foundation, created the Open Badges standard in 2012. It provides a method for embedding information about accomplishments into portable image files that also include resources for web-based validation and verification.

The standard, used for current digital badges, describes who earned and issued the badge as well as the criteria required.

After using this standard to create a digital badge for the Big Data University platform, IBM reported dramatic results. Student enrollment increased 129%. The number of students completing courses increased by 226%, and the number of students passing the end-of-course exam increased 694%.

No other factor contributed to these changes. The only change was the creation of a digital badge. IBM has now issued more than two million badges in 195 countries.

Surveys and research in the years since have led IBM to report the following benefits of digital badges.

  • Employees who earn digital badges show higher engagement scores than employees who do not. About 87% of IBM badge recipients said they felt more engaged because of the badge program.
  • Technical sales professionals who earn digital badges achieve sales quotas at a higher rate than employees who do not earn badges.
  • IBM business units report that digital badges motivate employees and customers to develop current skills, while one-third said badges accelerate shifts in the expertise needed to meet a changing market.

Stackable Credits Through the Kelley School of Business

The Kelley School of Business at Indiana University offers two digital badge programs. Both provide an earned badge, visual confirmation that the student has learned advanced skills and competencies through Kelley Executive Education.

Graduates can apply credits earned through the Digital Badge program toward a Kelley School of Business Executive Degree Program certificate. In turn, students can apply the certificate toward a Kelley Executive Degree Program online MBA or an online MS in one of the following: Business Analytics, Finance, or Strategic Management.

Digital badge programs at the Kelley School of business focus on two areas of importance in the tech-driven, modern business world.

  • Global Cybersecurity Foundations. Offered 100% online, the Global Cybersecurity Foundations digital badge program offers students a chance to gain mastery of cybersecurity best practices. They also develop an understanding of the business, technical, ethical, and legal aspects of cybersecurity. Participants learn the latest trends in cybersecurity risk management.
  • Predictive Analytics for Business Applications. Data analytics continue to drive a revolution in how businesses approach strategic development and the decision-making process. This program introduces students to analytics techniques and software tools that they can use to extract value from data. Students start by learning strategies to address basic challenges involving problem definition and data preparation. From there, they learn analytical techniques that include linear regression, logistic regression, discriminant analysis, principal component analysis, cluster analysis, and neural networks.

Digital badges give professionals a way to demonstrate their commitment to mastering new skills as their careers progress. By offering high-quality digital programs 100% online, the Kelley School gives working professionals a convenient way to expand their knowledge base while boosting their careers.