When working to build a learning program that’s unlike anything offered elsewhere, it’s imperative for association professionals to have a good grasp on generational shifts and new technology, as well as the ability to embrace change. As part of this endeavor, key trends should be evaluated to determine what value they bring to a specific organization, and if they’re worth pursuing and implementing.

One trend gaining popularity is digital badging. While certainly not new, as learning and career advancement are increasingly entwined, associations are finding themselves drawn to the benefits of digital badging. These benefits include:

  • Increased visibility into an association’s certification offerings
  • Increased member benefits
  • Increased association brand awareness
  • Increased awareness around a specific industry
  • An attractive offering to members at all stages of their careers, but specifically Millennials
  • An additional revenue streams

In short, a digital badge validates a competency or skill, is verifiable, and able to be displayed online. Associations are uniquely situated to offer digital badges, as they already have a membership base that values professional learning and career growth.

In addition, they may already be offering continuing education to members while setting and/or adhering to industry standards in terms of educational requirements. And, if that’s the case, it’s likely they have the technology in place, such as a learning management system (LMS), to support a digital badging program.

Digital badges issued by associations empower members to share validated proof of accomplishments through email, professional networks, such as LinkedIn, as well as verified skill profiles. As a result, employers can discover candidates who meet job requirements, opening opportunities for professionals at any stage in their career.

That said, digital badging is particularly appealing to Millennials, who—as Pew Research notes—represent the largest share of the American workforce. In fact, job opportunities rank as the most important association member benefit to Millennials, along with credentialing and training.

Digital badging serves as a personal marketing tool for these tech savvy members, while creating brand awareness for the association. It’s a win-win. As such, we expect the value of badges to continue to increase, leading associations to further incorporate them into their learning offerings.

And, for more on the latest learning trends, check out “2017 Learning Trends, 2018 Learning Forecast.”