A Badge of Knowledge

A Winnipeg non-profit is dipping its toe into the waters of open badges, an increasingly popular system for recognizing professional development.

“We’re overfilling our workshops,” says Diana Rozos, Manager of Family and Child Care Resources at Family Dynamics. “I didn’t have to do much marketing to our students. There is a novelty factor here, too. Our participants are thrilled to help us pilot something new.”

Family Dynamics is using open badges as digital certificates to recognize learned skills and participation in their professional development program for licensed home-based childcare providers. Learners can receive badges in three different categories (Theory, Applied Learning, and Special Events) as well as Milestone and Leadership badges for participation in workshops about outdoor play, communications, and more.

“Most of our clients are new Canadians eager to learn and eager to succeed in their business,” says Rozos, who is implementing the badge program with the help of Margerit Roger of Eupraxia Training. “When they get a digital badge, they can display it on LinkedIn, Facebook, in an online ‘passport’, in their email signature, or on their own personal website. They can also print a version for display in their childcare space. The badge tells their clients and prospective clients that they care about professional development and lifelong learning.”

MFNPO is also experimenting with open badges to advance skills development in the non-profit sector by issuing them for successful completion of its Fundamentals of Human Resources program. To earn the badge, participants must complete the program and all the assignments, including the development of HR documents for their workplaces.

“Open badges are a good way to recognize specialized learning,” says Don Presant, President of Learning Agents and a consultant to MFNPO. “They recognize that learning today takes place in different ways, in different places, and through different media. When communities change and technology changes, the world needs ways to promote and recognize people’s efforts to keep pace.”

As open badges become more widely understood and embraced in Canada, the entire system will become increasingly credible and robust.

“Any organization can equip themselves with a badge system for its employees to recognize training and development,” says Presant. “There is plenty of evidence to support the notion that striving for and earning badges inspires and energizes employees and helps employers develop needed workforce skills.”

This video explains more about open badges and how they work.

“We run professional development programs, anyway,” adds Diana Rozos. “The badges initiative compels us to be more rigorous and more innovative in what we offer and in how we deliver it. It doesn’t only help the person who is participating, it enhances the organization offering the badges.”

To learn more about MFNPO’s discussions about open badges, contact the MFNPO office at info@mfnpo.org or (204) 272-6088.