On Badges and Nanodegrees!

Dear Commons Community,

The Chronicle of Higher Education takes a look at the efficacy of badges and nanodegrees for job seekers and comes to the conclusion that they have a way to go before general acceptance. This is to be expected with any new concept especially one dependent upon technology. The article establishes that:

“Critics have argued that a [traditional] college degree does not say much about a candidate’s abilities apart from the ability to get into, and graduate from, a particular college. Employers themselves complain that a college degree doesn’t predict whether a graduate will make a good employee. Purveyors of alternative credentials have rushed to fill the gap, designing “badges” and “nanodegrees” that are more specific about what skills applicants actually possess.”

However, it appears that badges and nanodegrees do not say enough about job applicants either and at best would have to be used in conjunction with other credentials such as a college degree.

On badges the article quotes a professor from Arizona State University:

“Alexander Halavais, an associate professor of social and behavioral studies at Arizona State University, has been researching how employers perceive badges. He says alternative credentials have a long way to go.

“Outside of IT, there is a lot of resistance to badges,” said Mr. Halavais in an email interview. “I know that for my students, based on folks we have talked to so far, I would never recommend that they use badges within a traditional hiring process—e.g., on a résumé.”

On nanodegrees, the article quotes one hiring manager:

“…nanodegree holders applying elsewhere might not enjoy any advantage. A user on Quora, the online question-and-answer forum, recently asked hiring managers if Udacity’s nanodegrees were seen as valuable. A response came from a user identifying himself as Allan Hui, a vice president at Weather Underground, a commercial service that analyzes data from thousands of weather stations.

Mr. Hui said the value of nanodegrees in the application process probably depended on whether a company had established formal guidelines for counting them. If not, the credential might simply be ignored.”

My sense is that badges have about the same acceptance in hiring as continuing education units. Nanodegrees have value with a small handful of companies and are likened more to certificate programs than college degrees.  I agree with the article that both have a way to go to be major players in the complex and competitive world of applying for a job.


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