Project Q&A With: Badges Work for Vets

Project Q&A With: Badges Work for Vets

What are the 3 most important things about building a badge system you would share with another organization just getting started?

  1. Early buy in and adoption from users; just because you build it does not guarantee they will come. 
  2. Make sure your technical partners internal to your organization (if possible); if your technical partners external to your organization make sure they are on board with your vision to design and implement a badging system.
  3. Make a commitment to stay engaged with other badge projects and their members; sharing best practices and lessons learned.

Who were you addressing with your badge system design? 

Our project is designed to address military Veterans by recognizing their training earned while serving in the military. Our project is also designed to engage HR hiring officials by presenting Veterans military training to them during the job selection process in the form of a digital badge. 

What were your initial goals for the badges? Did those goals change at all throughout the design process?

Our initial goal was to stand up a website where Veterans could register their military training and have that training presented to employers in the form of a digital badge. The website was later modified to allow employers the ability to search the Veteran training database by skillset or location for registered Veterans and be able to contact Veterans about employment opportunities. With the initial phase and the first modification complete the website was modified once more to allow employers to post job positions and represent those positions in the form of a digital badge. This added functionality provides Veterans the opportunity to browse and search for jobs by keyword and or by location. The site is fully functional and no further development is anticipated.

What types of badges are you using (participation, skill, certification, etc.)? Are there levels or pathways represented in your badges? If so, please describe.

We are asking Veterans to self-certify that they are indeed a Veteran and have received the military training indicated when registering on the Badges for Vets website. Once they’ve registered and indicated their type of military training a digital badge representing their military training is returned to their email address. Veterans are invited to embed their digital badge into their resumes to make the badge and the training it represents available to HR hiring officials. It is our hope that when prospective HR hiring officials view the embedded badge in the electronic resume they are compelled to click on it; if they do click on it they are returned to the Badges for Vets website to view the Veteran’s training profile, view information that advocates for hiring a Veteran and most importantly a form for contacting the Veteran about an employment opportunity.
With buy in or adaptation from the Dept. of Defense or the Dept. of Veterans Affairs, a person’s Veteran status and military training could easily be confirmed by cross checking Veterans’ registration information. Once confirmed the badge could be altered to indicate “certified” with corroborating data embedded in the badge. Would the fact the badge “certified” caused a hiring official to be more likely to hire a Veteran? 

How was the criteria for the badges determined. What pedagogies (if any) informed the learning and badge system design?

Considering our target audience, Veterans, we wanted to develop a badging system that was unique and recognizable; a design that mimics military service ribbons that have been worn on Veterans uniforms for centuries.  At a glance, ribbons worn on a uniform are universally recognized by other Veterans and Veteran communities to represent acts of heroism, military campaigns and training proficiencies. It is our hope that digital badges issued to Veterans from the Badges for Vets website would become just as recognizable by HR hiring officials engaging in a corporate strategy to hire more Veterans.

What are three things you learned about badge system design? What would you do differently if you were to start over?

  1. It takes a lot of time and resources to conceptualize and create a badge platform from the ground up. And while the design is important, the “need” for a badging system paramount, a critical “need” necessary to engage early adapters and gain sustainable traction for your badge project. 
  2. Secondly it is important to obtain early endorsements for your platform; the larger the endorsing body presumably the better your project has to succeed. 
  3. Marketing, marketing, marketing. Let the world know about your project and the gap/need you intend to address with your project.
What would we do differently? Make sure our technical partner is truly committed to the project and the digital badges concept. The disconnect with our current web developer became so large I doubt he fully understands the concept of digital badging despite spending the last 9 months to developing a digital badging website. Make sure our technical partner’s level of interest and work ethic match our passion for our project. When work ethics and level of interest are more closely aligned, interest and energy levels remain high and more time is spent nuancing the quality of the product.

What is left to do? What is left unanswered? What might help you continue to succeed?

  1. Obtain feedback from Veterans and employers to begin assessing value of BFV.
  2. Write report of research and submit analysis of our badge system
  3. Reach out to employers and get them to post jobs
  4. Integration with the OBI
  5. Make a promotional video
  6. Market, market, market

What are the 3 main challenges to widespread adoption of your badge system for your organization?

  1. The major challenge for adoption of badges to represent military/civilian occupational specialties is to communicate with seven million Veterans and encourage them to register their training with the BFV site.
  2. A second major challenge is to engage potential civilian hiring officials to register with the BFV site and take advantage of the opportunities to post open positions at no charge, and to rapidly obtain listings of qualified Veterans within a specified area.
  3. The third major challenge turns on Veterans' and employers' perceptions of value added via use of digital badges to represent quality training in civilian occupations.

What is your badge system testing strategy? How have you or will you be testing your badge system prior to deployment?

The BFV system asks Veterans to self-certify training received during his/her military service and then to take advantage of information associated with the badge(s) when applying for civilian jobs.  Veterans registered with the BFV site and others familiar with BFV and related on-line job seeking tools will be asked to complete a brief survey with their perceptions of value of digital badges in their job searches and usefulness of the BFV site.  Similarly, employers registered with BFV and a group of human resource officers recruited to evaluate the use of digital badges for identifying qualified Veteran applicants.

What are the top 3 factors that the success of your badge system are contingent upon?

  1. Perceived value and helpfulness of BFV for Veterans seeking civilian employment
  2. Perceived value of military occupational training in meeting needs of civilian employers.
  3. Reliable and effective web performance of BFV.

What have you done, or do you plan to do, to evaluate your badge earner community?

The Veteran community that accesses and explores BFV will be described so a demographic picture can be clarified.  Veterans will be asked to complete at least one brief survey asking for their perceptions of value of BFV for representing their training and as a tool to assist in seeking civilian employment.

What will you do with the results of your evaluations? What research, if any, will be based on these evaluations, and do you plan to publish the outcomes?

The processes of establishing the BFV site, communicating with Veterans seeking civilian jobs and civilian hiring officials seeking qualified employees, along with demographic descriptions of the groups will be summarized in a report of research to be completed in the Fall of 2013.  Plans for publication include submission to related groups in the HASTAC consortium and perhaps also in appropriate professional journals.

Please describe any impact your badge system may have already had on your organization and your learners.

We have already had many positive comments in regards to our badge system from a large number of Veterans already registered on the Badges for Vets website. We have demonstrated the site’s utility to HR hiring officials at several job fairs and all have intimated their desire to use it.

How would you characterize the impact your badge system will have on the badge ecosystem?

It’s difficult at this time to determine the impact that our badge system will have within the ecosystem. Currently we have a functional website where learners can register and receive a badge for their training. At this time we can only demonstrate that our badging system works in a development environment; employer engagement with the Veteran community is very limited.

What plans do you have to scale your badge system?

The goal for our badge system is to scale it up involving the Department of Defense (DoD) and the Dept. of Veterans Affairs (VA). The desirable outcome would be for the DoD and the VA to incorporate the badge system and offer it to Veterans and active duty military members as part of their benefits and services.

How successfully are you getting institutional buy-in, or adoption from your learners?

The large number of Veterans already registered on the Badges for Vets website does not necessarily confirm the site’s effectiveness; learner’s (Veterans) will only share and adopt the site as a “go-to” source for jobs when we are able to demonstrate the effectiveness of digital badges in form of jobs.

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