Badging for the Metrology Industry

by Sita Schwartz, Editor

Online education and interaction precipitates a need for validating individual experience and qualifications. Electronic badging is becoming more popular as the internet continues to evolve. The platform for electronic badging is open-source, but requires a good amount of resources to implement. In response to this new need for electronic validation, a growing number of companies provide electronic badging services, including Techology, Inc. This Q&A article provides information on the concept of badging and how it benefits those in the metrology industry.

Independent training programs—many of whom have been a continuous part of the measurement science industry for more than a decade or two—have become the mainstay of measurement science education and continuing education for metrology and quality technicians. For these types of programs, there appears to be a two-sided problem: 1) independent trainers have nothing but a paper certificate to give their students after they’ve successfully completed the training, and 2) students have nothing but a paper certificate to show for it. There is neither a transcript from a college nor a military record showing they successfully completed a metrology/quality program. So how can trainers continue to attract students and how can students display their accomplishments? The answer is badging: an authenticated, digital record of accomplishment for industry within and outside of formal institutions alike.

I sat down with Patrick O’Malley, CTO of Techology, Inc. for a Q&A session on badging for the metrology industry.

What are the advantages of badging?

Using digital badges allows an organization to create a portable digital representation of an achievement. This allows the earner to display their badges and achievements on any social media or job-posting site. A digital badge is a certified achievement with tangible evidence that it was earned. This means that if you post a badge on your LinkedIn profile then people looking at your accomplishments will know that the badge was awarded for an actual achievement. The badge can’t be faked, so a potential employer will know that it was something verifiable.

Another advantage of digital badges is that they can be combined to form a more complex badge. Badges issued by a University or training company can be broken down into smaller units that show progress towards a larger goal or degree.
Badge_Example4
So what is a badge?

A badge is a digital representation of an achievement. It is composed of an image representing the achievement and embedded metadata. The metadata is composed of information about the person that earned the badge, links to web sites with criteria for earning the badge, and links to information about the institution that issued the badge.

Badges can be directly accessed from sites that hold badge collections called backpacks. They can also be awarded as image files, usually in PNG format.

What can I do with a badge?

A badge can be shared directly by sending the image to someone or it can be displayed on the earner’s website or social media site like Facebook or LinkedIn. It allows someone to showcase his or her accomplishments and knowledge. Badges earned can lead to higher-level badges. A more complex badge can be issued for earning a number of simple badges. You can show your progress towards a complex badge by displaying simpler badges earned.

In some cases, a badge earner may be in a technical trade school or university degree program lasting several years. Using digital badges, they can display the course work they have completed to date. This may allow them to obtain internships or part-time jobs based on experience they have from activities performed to earn badges.

In a non-academic setting, badges can be used to signify participation in an activity such as a 5K run or training program. This opens up a wide variety of badge types that can be awarded.
Badge_Example5

Who hosts the badge criteria and for how long?

The issuer of a badge has to have a web page that displays the criteria required to earn a badge. They also need a web page that displays information about the issuer and its accreditations. These pages can be hosted by the issuer of the badge or a third party that maintains a service to host digital badges, such as Techology, Inc.

The creation of a badge is done using a process called “baking” a badge. It combines metadata about the links to the issuer’s information, as well as information about the earner of the degree. Once baked, an image file is created that can be downloaded by the earner. This allows the digital badge to be displayed anywhere the earner desires.

Badges have a predefined time period in which they are valid. They are hosted for at least that long. A digital badge can also be downloaded from the issuer, allowing it to be used as long as the earner wishes.

Can an earner’s badge expire?

A badge can expire. Each badge has an expiration date saved within it. The length of time a badge is valid is dependent on the type of achievement and is determined by the issuer. A digital badge for an activity such as a 5K run can have no expiration date since they signify an achievement for an activity. A digital badge issued for taking a certification test that must be renewed every 5 years would have an expiration date 5 years out. The expiration date represents the period of time the badge is relevant, so it is based on the type of activity performed to earn the badge.

Examples of badge graphic, courtesy of openbadges.me.
Examples of badge graphic, courtesy of openbadges.me.

What kinds of institutions have implemented badging?

Badging has been implemented by major universities such as Colorado State and by private training companies. It has also been implemented by event sponsoring organizations for activities such as participation in 5K runs or other athletic challenges. Some companies offer one day training activities like cooking classes or craft lessons. These companies have used physical certificates and digital badges to signify a person’s completion of a course or lesson. Digital badges have been used by a large variety of organizations to acknowledge accomplishments earned for activities they sponsor.

Resources

For more information about badging in general, visit:


It is no coincidence that Techology, Inc. has taken an interest in providing badging for the metrology industry. Cal Lab Solutions, Inc., owner of CAL LAB magazine, is also part owner of Techology, Inc. (http://www.techologyinc.com), a software technology project group. To find out more about Techology, Inc.’s electronic badging system, visit: http://www.probadging.com.