This week we heard from Charla Long, Dean of the College of Professional Studies at Lipscomb University, about how Lipscomb has been using badges to reimagine credentialing and prior learning assessment for their liberal arts college.
Lipscomb University began looking at competency-based learning in response to an industry need for a new skills currency that could convey graduates’ competencies to potential employers. Traditional transcripts just “don’t cut it,” according to Charla Long, at least not from a higher education perspective. A badge backpack or digital competency report, on the other hand, better communicates to external consumers exactly what students know and can do.
Lipscomb’s Badge Journey
By looking deeply at competency as a basis for credentialing, Lipscomb University began to see every workplace role as being, at its simplest level, a unique combination and levels of the following competencies: Knowledge, Skills, Ability, Attitude. Lipscomb’s role is to identify what learners need to be successful in the roles they are hoping to fulfill.
Lipscomb’s Polaris Competency Model, outlined below, breaks down 41 key competencies across 7 categories:
This breakdown allows for flexibility and customization for particular programs of study and for individual learners’ needs. This allows learners to pursue exactly what they need for a particular career, and employers can clearly see what candidates have achieved, their level of mastery for particular skills, and what soft skills they have been recognized for, including leadership, communication, and management skills.
Charla also talked about the power of badges to empower learners: many of their learners are not degree-seekers, but are working through individual modules according to their needs and capacity. They can then pursue a broader learning experience and credential if they so choose.
Lipscomb currently offers 164 badges in their ‘base inventory,’ and provides students with a competency report that can embed into social media and electronic job-seeking platforms, acting as a transcript of a learner’s badge achievements that allow employers to see what candidates know and can do.
Employer Focus Groups
In a set of employer focus groups, Charla worked with a number of managers and senior managers, engaging them in a number of collaborative and competitive activities over the course of an 8-hour day, assessing various competencies and behaviors to get a sense of their overall performance throughout the day.
The participating employers were given an evaluation and feedback, where they were shown how the work they had done during the exercises could count for academic credit at an undergraduate level through competency badges. There are many employers and manager in the workforce that
These kinds of connections are vital to increasing badge system growth and adoption - and Lipscomb has already seen results. In her June presentation to participants in the Open Badges MOOC, Charla told the group that Lipscomb was talking to an employer considering sending 9,700 people through Lipscomb’s badged modules!
To learn more about Lipscomb’s core competency model, click here. You can contact Charla Long directly via email with questions and comments.