The revolution in American education is moving much faster than most of us understand. Now the Chronicle of Higher Education is singing the praises of a new trend toward achievement “badges” modeled on those earned by Boy Scouts as an alternative to the expensive and cumbersome degree system that could provide education credentials to make job candidates attractive to potential employers in many fields.
Employers might prefer a world of badges to the current system. After all, traditional college diplomas look elegant when hung on the wall, but they contain very little detail about what the recipient learned. Students using Mozilla’s proposed badge system might display dozens or even hundreds of merit badges on their online résumés detailing what they studied. And students could start showing off the badges as they earn them, rather than waiting four years to earn a diploma.“We have to question the tyranny of the degree,” says David Wiley, an associate professor of instructional psychology and technology at Brigham Young University.
Flexibility, openness to innovation, pragmatism: these have always been America’s greatest strengths. These qualities are now at work reshaping our educational system — and not a moment too soon.