Alternative credentials offer institutions a way to validate a range of knowledge, skills, and abilities students have developed, deepening the level of information otherwise provided through student transcripts or resumes. Well-designed alternative credentials help students to articulate their skills and academic accomplishments and make visible, through digital badging or other means, the specific learning outcomes students have achieved, what artifacts students produced to demonstrate their learning, and how those outcomes were assessed.
Within this area of focus, the Kirwan Center has been leading the Badging Essential Skills for Transitions (B.E.S.T.) initiative, which is designed to more clearly communicate graduates’ career-ready skills to employers through digital badging. B.E.S.T. focuses on eight essential career-ready skills—Collaboration, Communication, Critical Thinking, Globalism, Interculturalism, Leadership, Problem Solving, and Professionalism—and is a system-wide, scalable approach to career preparation that maximizes the value of curricular and co-curricular opportunities already available to students. Nine USM institutions are currently involved in the initiative.
The Kirwan Center has also formed a strategic partnership with Portfolium to pilot their BadgeLink tool through B.E.S.T. BadgeLink will be used to help institutional teams build scaffolded badge earning pathways, support students’ own collection and curation of evidence, foster student self-reflection, enable rigorous assessment at scale, and ensure consistency of quality across programs/institutions.
Also within this area of focus, the University of Maryland University College (UMUC) has piloted a digital “extended” transcript, which help students better demonstrate their competency vis-à-vis defined learning outcomes and allows employers to understand the skills and knowledge that potential employees have gained through their college experience.