UMass Online Announces Badge Program

(Photo: Bench Accounting, Creative Commons)

(Photo: Bench Accounting, Creative Commons)

The University of Massachusetts' online consortium, UMassOnline, has launched its first non-credit badge program that offers certifications of professional knowledge on a limited scale.

The program is called Project Risk Management, and it is offered through the College of Advancing and Professional Studies (CAPS) at UMass Boston. It is one of the first programs of its kind offered by an institution of higher learning in Massachusetts.

Students can complete the Project Risk Management badge through a series of three online modules that cover the six steps of risk management as identified by the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK). The six steps consist of risk management planning, risk identification, qualitative risk analysis, quantitative risk analysis, risk response planning, and risk control.

"This is an exciting time for UMass Boston as we launched the first commercially released badge program in Project Risk Management," said Olga Lauterbach, director of corporate and professional training and outreach, CAPS at Boston.

Students are able to attain a badge January through December. Each of the three modules (Inputs to Project Risk Management, Risk Management Planning and Risk Identification, Risk Response Planning and Implementation) contains a video lecture, reading materials, and a test to be completed at the student's self-set pace.

According to a press release, prospective badge earners can complete the program as quickly as they see fit upon enrolling in the program. After successful completion of the program, students will receive a digital badge that they can include on their resume and social media profiles to complement their list of proficiencies and certifications.

Some employers and industries require that their employees achieve a level of proficiency in a specific discipline or skill. Prospective employees who are able to demonstrate official certification, rather than just taking classes, in these areas will have a better chance of being selected for a given position. Often, badges and certifications are offered in areas too narrow or specialized for a full-blown degree; such certifications are used to complement one's larger training and experience.

UMassOnline is the online learning consortium of the University of Massachusetts that enables students, professionals, and lifelong learners to take courses at their convenience, anytime and anywhere.

UMass' physical university offers over 140 undergraduate and graduate degree, certificate, and professional development programs. More than 1,500 courses collected from these programs are available on UMassOnline. Available programs span the disciplines, featuring offerings from the liberal arts, education, management, nursing, public health, information technology, and other disciplines.

The program is another example of how American colleges and universities are integrating their curricula with digital resources. Similar online certification programs will offer students greater autonomy in pursuing their education or professional development. Often, individuals struggle trying to manage the demands of school and work; online programs are designed to allow them to successfully juggle multiple responsibilities.

Additionally, students do not know what their future jobs will ask of them, and online certifications might allow employees to gain the skills that will allow them to attain promotions and secure better positions without having to take time off to pursue a degree. For those interested, more information can be found here at the digital university's webpage or by visiting the institution's blog.

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