Here’s the summary of our longer paper. Please see the full paper (linked and embedded below) for references and discussion supporting this summary:
In 2015 we used RMIT University’s Graduate Futures Careers Fund to pilot badges as a possible way to improve the employment prospects of graduates from the Advertising Degree. Through iterative action research we developed, tested and reviewed: infrastructural support for badges; teacher, student and practitioner understanding of badge concepts and value and; what appropriate and meaningful implementation of badges might look like in the advertising industry. Despite the difficulties that other Australian educational institutions have found when trying to implement badges, we’ve identified three areas of value for badging in the domains of advertising education and practice specifically:
- Badges can highlight an individual’s talent and experience where formal accreditation does not, such as in co and extracurricular activities, work experience and peer relations and esteem
- Badges carry a form of ‘brand-by-association’ both for the issuer and the receiver, and that value intersects with notions of online identity management
- Badges present opportunities for unique methods of advertising, and these methods are potentially new content to be taught in the advertising program
The technology and infrastructure that presently facilitates badging remains precarious, disjointed and competitive. Institutional, teacher/student and industry/practitioner awareness and understanding of the use and value of badges remains low to nonexistent. The developing fields of ‘big data’, ‘artificial intelligence’, ‘blockchain’ and ‘online identity management’ are likely to displace the current value propositions of badges. More consideration around the notion of brand-by-association and identity management is needed – for example, institution-branded badges can highlight a person’s recent-graduate status, possibly at the expense of their work experience or specific skill sets. This can have a negative impact on employability in the advertising sector, where crude levels of professional ability are still used.
We therefore make the general recommendation that RMIT University not move into badges until an open standard format is reliably and more widely supported; until people can effectively incorporate badges into their identity management; and until wider understanding of the value of badges exists – especially in the idea of brand by association. We instead recommend that a range of niche experiments be conducted, each addressing these initial ideas and areas of concern, but from different discipline perspectives. From these experiments, a stronger understanding can be developed in the institution, and across its relevant industry partners, to help ensure better impact at a university wide implementation.