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Thursday, October 29, 2015

SUNY Offers Badges

The State University of New York will soon offer "micro-credentials" to more students, chancellor Nancy Zimpher will announce Thursday at SUNYCON in Manhattan.

Micro-credentials, also known as "badges," are digital documents that demonstrate a student has a specific competency. SUNY piloted the program at Stony Brook University, which offers badges to education and business majors with descriptions such as Investment Analysis, Diverse Literatures and Teaching Students with Special Needs.

The program will soon expand to more SUNY campuses and to more majors, Zimper will announce on Thursday. SUNY will form a task force made up of of faculty, administrators and workforce experts to plan for the systemwide expansion.

Alexander Cartwright, SUNY provost and executive vice chancellor, said the badges will help prepare liberal arts graduates to demonstate their employability.

"For a lot of people who have liberal arts degrees, long-term they do incredibly well because they have such a rich skill set that they learned in college - about learning, about logic, about arguing, about how you actually have a good life," Cartwright said in a phone interview. "Where they struggle a little bit is getting that first job."

Cartwright also said the badges might help encourage other students to graduate, thereby improving SUNY's completion rates.

"It has to do with whether [students] believe they can complete their degree or not," he said. "So, can we give them something that says you've demonstrated competency in a specific area that gives you a qualification that is on the path to something much bigger?"

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