Online Badges: Giving Learners More Choice and Making it Easier for Employers to Compare Job Candidates

Scorecard Tease-01


We’ve created a downloadable DEBATE SCORECARD to watch Monday’s first presidential debate with your little learner.

Re-entering the Workforce with the Help of an Online Badge

Coletta Teske recently spoke about the struggles of a job search after taking time away from the workforce.

She was looking for an IT job—but employers considered her too old for the jobs they were filling.

“My skills were a bit out-of-date, and I hadn’t been in the workforce for a while. I tried everything. And one of the things that kept popping up was going back to school.”


Coletta decided to freshen her skills with a free, online certification course offered by IBM.

She completed the course, passed its exam, posted her digital certification badge online, where it was viewed by an employer—and got an offer to work.

A Level Playing Field in the Job Market

global map

Companies like IBM have an entire range of credentialing courses that award digital badges through partnerships with Pearson. IBM houses much of it under something called Big Data University.

IBM says it offers these online badging programs to accomplish three things:

1 – Provide a reliable, valid and fair method of assessing skills and knowledge.

2 – Provide IBM a method of building and validating the skills of individuals and organizations.

3 – Develop a loyal community of highly skilled certified professionals who recommend, sell, service, support and/or use IBM products and solutions.

“They’re creating an entire global ecosystem of comparable qualifications,” says Pete Janzow who works on online badging program delivery with Pearson.

“It’s a global talent map they can use to create teams to solve very specific problems,” he says.

More Comparisons, More Choices

“These online badges help employers have a clearer idea of what each job applicant can do,” Pete says. “But the badging system doesn’t work if the learner doesn’t get something out of it, too.”

“The badge certification has to be ‘resume-worthy,'” he says.

“And, as these online badge programs catch on, learners can stack up courses offered through companies like IBM against courses offered through community colleges and universities—and choose the best course that works for their professional goals.”

stack up

New Pathways to Jobs

“These badges have to be valuable for learners and rigorous at the same time,” Pete says. “People should be proud of these certifications and want to put them on their resume or share them online.”

It’s true that a large and  increasing number of students enrolled in higher education are “non-traditional students,” according to The National Center for Education Statistics.

“That means many of today’s learners are coming back to education to collect new skills,” Pete says, “in order to deal with the threat of economic disruption or capitalize on a range of profession-enhancing educational options.”

“One thing that’s true among learners seeking online badges?” Pete says. “They’re largely ‘job motivated.'”

Catching On

“The IT industry is moving the fastest with substantive online badge programs,” Pete says.

“New industries taking advantage of these qualification programs include healthcare, business, insurance, finance, and manufacturing.”

The Future of Online Badging

Pete’s online badging colleagues at Pearson have seen millions of badges pass through their system over the last two years.

Companies awarding these badges include Microsoft, IBM, and Adobe.

Individuals from across the world are currently engaged in a Pearson-delivered online badging program.

“Part of the future of online badging is in the certification of important job-related ‘soft skills,'” Pete says. “These skills are a little more fuzzy and slightly more difficult to measure.”

“Many of my colleagues are putting their heads together to figure this out,” he says.

Always Learning

Seeking these online badges, Pete says, is a learning accomplishment in itself.

“When Coletta Teske met with that employer who had seen her badges, he told her he was impressed that she was taking data science classes,” Pete says.

“Those badges told her new employer: I’m willing to re-engage and keep learning.”