HASTAC and Open Digital Badges

I tend to view academia and scholarship as a collection of disparate and departmentalized fields that interact at purely superficial levels. As a student who loves variety and dreads the idea of being forced to pick a specialization, I am pleased that HASTAC offers a forum through which scholars across an ever-growing number of fields can connect. But what impresses me even more is that thinkers from areas such as technology and the humanities, which at first glance seem as if they could not be further apart, can use HASTAC to collaborate on projects and thereby expand the scope of their work. In other words, I feel that HASTAC exists in large part to facilitate interdisciplinary communication and the launch of new integrative projects.

            An added benefit of HASTAC’s interdisciplinary nature, and the nature of the digital humanities itself, is that it allows participants to gain new expertise by interacting with a diverse range of experts. So I found it incredibly interesting that HASTAC promotes the use of open digital badges as a way to showcase this learning. The following video offers a general overview of digital badges and their relative merits.

            I am not quite sure how digital badges differ from the features on LinkedIn which allow users to list their skills. However, the statement made at the beginning of the video, which explains that badges often showcase the schooling, publications and projects involved in the obtaining a given badge, seems to be one major difference. Whereas LinkedIn users post their skills almost purely as a way to showcase their talents to future employers, the video advocates digital badges as way to students to learn how they can replicate other’s success. Digital badges therefore seem to be designed to reflect the collaborative learning that is already at the heart of HASTAC and the digital humanities.

            This report, which evaluates the relative merit of open digital badges and assesses the optimal design of a digital badge system, specifies that a badge is “an image file embedded with information” (7). So in some ways, I think one could argue that a digital badges are little more than a glorified entry on a resume attaching an image to one’s skills and credentials. Nonetheless, as a senior in the midst of a job search, I am curious to see whether this open badge trend will really take hold, and I wonder how effectively it can be leveraged to showcase the talents of digital humanists to those who are unfamiliar with the field.