Educate Maine and Badging: Establishing a New Culture

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Hi, everyone!

As we mentioned in our last post, we’ll be featuring different people and their organizations in the next few blog posts who have worked with or around badges since Maine State of Learning launched in 2015.

In this post, we’ll be featuring Ed Cervone, the executive director of Educate Maine, who most recently served as the director of operations at the Denver Preschool Program in Denver, Colorado, and has, throughout his career, served on various boards of directors for organizations such as the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center, Maine’s Children’s Alliance, and Maine Children’s Growth Council.

Let’s jump in!

A Brief History

So to begin, what kind of work does Educate Maine do?

Founded in December of 2011 by the merger of the Maine coalition for Excellence, and the Maine Compact for Higher Education, Educate Maine is a “business-led organization that works to advance education policies and practices that prepare Maine students for postsecondary learning and the workforce.”

By engaging in outreach and advocacy through the state of Maine, and meeting with education leaders, business leaders, and policy leaders to address challenges currently facing education practices in Maine and Maine’s workforce, Educate Maine’s mission is to improve the education attainment of all Maine people.

This means helping to make sure all students graduate from high school prepared for college or the workforce, and increasing the number of people in Maine who earn a postsecondary degree, a professional certificate, and/or a professional credential in order to succeed in today’s economy.

Educate Maine’s vision is for Maine students and workers to be the most highly educated and skilled in the world – a goal they believe is attainable when:

  1. Education is student-centered
  2. Learning is lifelong, rigorous, and happens anytime, anywhere
  3. Educators are elevated and supported
  4. And, education and business leaders work together

Educating Maine about Badging

Given these core beliefs, it will come as no surprise then, that Educate Maine supports digital badging and the Maine State of Learning’s mission of being able to “learn anywhere”, and connecting that learning (recognized by digital badging) to career pathways, personal goals, and statewide proficiencies.

“We are in a very early stage in Maine, of educating and instructing [about the value of digital badging],” Ed said, when I talked with him about his experience so far, advocating for digital badging in Maine. “[But] I think there’s interest.”

While it isn’t very hard to convince people, in person, of the value of digital badging, it can become a bit more tricky when trying to establish the infrastructure for a digital badging system.

“This (digital badging) is a huge shift from our current credit hour, seat-time model,” Ed explained to me. “And that’s just talking about K-12.”

“You have an entire education effort that needs to [help instruct] employers. Most institutions are still looking for degrees and credentials, rather than looking at resumes and skills with a more detailed and considerate look.”

In his own experiences, Ed has found that while excitement for the future and potential of digital badging is evident, a change in the culture of hiring and accreditation is necessary.

“What you often find is a business leader who is excited about this opportunity (of digital badging) and the shifting dynamic of what it means to work,” Ed said. “They’ll say, ‘Let’s do it.’ But oftentimes, large employers are very structured – there are different arms of their business that handle hiring, for example, talent acquisition teams. [They’ll explain how] their computer system can’t recognize this type of accreditation.”

And the way to begin to change this hiring and accreditation culture? Through dialogue, education, and persistence.

“What we do is start talking to them about this [digital badging],” Ed said towards the end of our conversation. “You can’t turn down a young adult without a college degree if they show you that they have these skills [through digital badging].”

While there’s still a long way to go, you can be sure that we here at Maine State of Learning, and organizations like Educate Maine, won’t stop in doing our best to help educate everyone on the value of digital badging and learning anywhere!

We hope this article featuring Educate Maine’s executive director, Ed Cervone, was helpful and informative! Do you have any questions or comments? Email us! We’re always excited to chat with you. 🙂