Photo by Donald A. Promnitz Fresno City College business instructor Lydia Anderson has implemented a digital badge system for her students, which can be added to social media accounts such as LinkedIn.

published on December 20, 2018 - 1:48 PM
Written by Donald A. Promnitz

A new program at Fresno City College is giving students motivation to go above and beyond in their studies.

As part of her online course for human relations, business instructor Lydia Anderson has introduced digital badging as a way to validate the progress and accomplishments of her students as they navigate the material. Set up through the California Community Colleges System, these badges can then be displayed on the student’s professional social media accounts (such as a LinkedIn page), demonstrating to potential employees what the student has achieved.

These badges can be earned for skills and soft skills related to the subject being taught. For example, Anderson’s class – human relations – offers badges in such skills as teambuilding, conflict management, decision-making and business etiquette. However, different classes with different skills will have badges of their own. This can be extended to everything from welding to dentistry. These badges can also be earned through classes done both online and in person.

Anderson decided to introduce the system after taking a class on badging through the Community Colleges System, and according to her, Fresno City is one of the first community colleges in the area to implement it. Seeing it as a potentially useful tool to incentivize her students, she said it encourages them to push themselves harder to demonstrate what they’ve learned in class.

“Just because the student took the class, or just because the student earned an ‘A’ doesn’t mean they necessarily earn the badge,” Anderson said. “They had to do extra activity and go above and beyond that.”

This meant scoring 90 percent or higher on additional information for the class, demonstrating their rigor to the professor.

One student to pursue the badges in the Fall 2018 semester has been Michael Ferguson of the Sacramento area, who works as the senior manager of labor process improvement at Raley’s Supermarkets. Ferguson was able to earn a badge for each chapter in the class, 13 in total. For Ferguson and others, the badges served to prove their worth and validate their work.

“I would say that a lot of folks who were taking the class were similarly motivated as myself at becoming a better leader within our organization,” Ferguson said. “But the badge itself [meant] that you understood the skill related to how to connect to people within your organization.”

“A lot of employees were specific Raley’s managers, management level,” Anderson said. “And the HR manager was really excited because she could immediately see the value that those students were getting through those earned badges.”

The Fall 2018 semester was the first that Fresno City College has used digital badging, but with the success realized by Anderson’s class, she said that some of her colleagues are already planning to implement it.

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