A number of initiatives and startups are hoping to offers ways to give people some sort of formal(ized) recognition for their informal learning – or at least for the skills they possess for which they don’t have official diplomas or degrees. Among them: Mozilla’s Open Badges project, the social endorsement site Skills.to, the soon-to-launch Degreed, and the open-to-the-public-just-today LearningJar.
There seems to be a lot of buzz about these in the tech industry in particular -- due to the high demand for workers with programming skills, due to the feeling that a college degree in CS doesn't always mean someone has those necessary programming skills, and -- of course -- due to the concerns over the high cost of higher education. And even if there weren’t headlines and hand-wringing about the “higher education bubble," these efforts do make sense: a college degree isn’t necessarily the best or only indicator of a person’s skill-set.
But a report released last month by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce has been weighing on me as I’ve thought about the promise and potential for creating alternative forms of certification that would benefit more people more broadly.
Photo credits: Nephelim BadTusk