Students Earn Digital Badges for Project Management Skills

By Emily Liebtag and Tom Vander Ark

Advocates of project management usually point to student engagement, authentic “real world” challenges, and the ability to develop deeper learning outcomes–all true. The added benefit of project-based learning is the ability to manage projects–probably the most important career skill for a project-based world.

Time management, planning, finding a critical path, team management, and monitoring are all important parts of an effectively managed project. These steps, amongst others, can be overlooked when focus on a pretty product or ideal outcome reigns supreme.

PMIEF looks to ensure that project management skills get their time in the sun, and therefore created a Project Management Fundamentals Digital Badge for Students. Targeted to students aged 12-19, students who have developed these skills as a part of work in school on a project or part of an extracurricular activity can submit for free (for the time being) to earn their digital badge.

“The PMIEF Project Management Fundamentals digital badge is designed for students.., who have learned these valuable skills through an out of school program, such as scouting or a competition team, or as part of another course to show that their learning meets a standard backed by PMIEF. Students can share their badges on LinkedIn profiles, digital portfolios, on resumes, and in many other ways, and the person with whom the badge is shared can easily verify who issued the badge and criteria for earning it.”

Digital badges have gained popularity the last several years, especially in teacher professional development, but there has been less traction in growth of badging for students. This is understandable, as privacy, platform overload and assessment of badge evidence all can be challenges.

What’s Next In Project Management Certification?

Right tool? Project management is a great tool, but not always the right one. Projects are initiated when we think we know the solution; they usually have specific objectives, a budget (or set of resources), a timeline and public products,. If we don’t know the solution (i.e. an adaptive problem), then design thinking is called for–starting with efforts to understand the problem and the customer group, and iterative testing of possible solutions. The first thing project managers should know is when, and when not, to use the toolset.

Certification? We can give prospective airline pilots a quiz, but they should only be certified after they’ve demonstrated the ability to fly–a lot and in stressful circumstances. We should certify project managers as a result of demonstrated ability to manage projects. Artifacts and references can be useful forms of evidence (see post on Degreed skill certification).

Black belt? A sequence of microcredentials could be developed based, like colored belts in karate, for increasing complexity of projects–longer durations, more work streams, expanded resources and more team members. Scaffolding and leveling intensity of projects could serve as a solution for those educators just embarking on PBL with students versus those who have been facilitating project based work for some time.

For more, see:

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Emily Liebtag

Emily Liebtag, Ed.D., is Education Reimagined's Senior Partner for Systems Transformation. Formerly, Emily served as the Vice President of Advocacy at Getting Smart.

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