From Khan Academy to Coursera to edX to the O'Reilly School of Technology, badges increasingly enjoy consideration as human capital's coin of the the realm for online education. Valid and verifiable accreditation is an exponentially growing challenge for virtual educators — and their students — worldwide. What should it mean to employers that someone has successfully completed a core course in Machine Learning or Hadoop? What does an executive education badge from an Instituto de Empresa, an Insead or Hitotusbashi say about the curricular competences of its holder? What badges will dramatically increase a job candidate's hireability or promotability?
Linked-In endorsements are lovely, but the demand for meaningful and measurable affirmation and accreditation will have profound effects on both higher and executive education. Badging bandwidth will further expand as the IBMs, Accentures, Schlumbergers and professional societies decide that they, too, want to brand the expertise of their training programs and people. Craft unions and other skilled labor organizations also seem destined to bring badging to their memberships. Will badges require successful course completion? Or will be badges be won by passing a demanding array of standardized virtual tests?