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Digital credentialing translates, shares training for Air Force, future employers

  • Published
  • By Marilyn C. Holliday
  • AETC Public Affairs

Since 2020, experts in Air Education and Training Command’s Force Development Experiences and Validation Branch have been working on digital credentialing with officials from across the Department of the Air Force to produce digital badges that are web-based versions of a credential, or learning outcome, which can be verified in real-time.

To date, efforts have led to 17 different communities, including first sergeants’, bio-environmental experts, special programs, schoolhouses, career fields and major command offices, having verified digital badges.  These communities have employed digital badging to enhance their talent management and development efforts.

“The digital badges provide the ability to translate and share training with current and future employers in military records for the commanders and resumes for spouses, who have earned badges at certain conferences,” Jason Grove, force development specialist, said. “Each badge is associated with an image and metadata that provides information about what the badge represents, and the evidence submitted to support earning it.”

In fiscal year 2023, commanders, senior enlisted leaders and spouses who attended the AETC and Air Mobility Command Squadron Leadership Courses (commanders, senior enlisted leaders, and spouse attendees) earned the seminar badge. Both courses met academic requirements and were included in the 2023 Air University catalog, providing attendees with a tangible representation of course completion.

“We will continue to serve as the services’ enterprise-wide integrator for Airmen training, education and career development, focused on delivering competency-based readiness to our operational and component commands,” Lt. Gen. Brian S. Robinson, AETC commander, said.  “Members of this command continue to pave the way for an expanded, people-focused footprint that will help the Air Force produce mission ready Airmen at an accelerated rate, while developing Airmen in a holistic manner.”

The badge visually represents the skills and knowledge associated with when and how a person earned the badge.

“The credentialing program tracks and uses credentials to enable commanders at all levels the ability to properly utilize their personal resources by knowing what their personnel know and can do and enable leaders to make data-driven decisions,” Kevin Wannemacher, senior force development program administrator, said.  “It’s a great addition to an Airman’s records and a spouse’s or retiring military member’s resume when seeking a career opportunity.”

The process for developing a digital badge is a collaborative effort between the subject matter experts from the community seeking a badge and members of the credentialing division.   Six major steps for the process include:

  • Identify audience, roles, subject matter experts, working groups and industry partners.
  • Define value proposition, skills, expectations, timelines, responsibilities, and communication plan.
  • Map badge pathways, align skills to external and internal benchmarks, then layout how badges level and stack together.
  • Build badge criteria, rubrics, and checklists.
  • Execute communication plan and digital credential launch.
  • Test, learn, iterate, and refine the process.

Once an individual earns a digital badge, they can include it on a digital resume, profile, or any web-based system.

“There are several courses that currently have badges, in varying learning management systems,” Grove said.  “Our own myLearning environment issues badges for some of its courses, and in working with certain communities, to include schoolhouses, we have helped members develop badges for their courses and other activities as well.  Then, those communities own and manage their digital badges.” 

According to Grove, “Courses are often the easiest to badge in terms of validating completion.  Other things like experiences, skills, or demonstrating knowledge attained tend to be more challenging.  But, communities have developed badges to do just that,” he said.

Digital badges:

  • are verifiable, translatable, shareable, and secure digital records of achievement that demonstrate what Airmen and Guardians know and can do.
  • validate technical and soft skills that may otherwise be unaccounted for in various training records.
  • enhance commander’s ability to identify Mission Ready Airmen with current and future skill sets that put the right people in the right place at the right time.
  • contain metadata such as detailed badge descriptions, concrete earning criteria, issuance and/or expiration dates, skills tags, and industry or academic standards.
  • offer career field managers tools to make data-driven decisions to promote a learning culture, optimize professional development and talent management efforts, build and manage a skills inventory, recruit for specific skills and prepare for mission readiness.
  • provide comprehensive learning and development pathways for career fields that do not have defined career field education and training plans.
  • help Airmen and Guardians translate their skills to industry when exiting the force and promote their accomplishments on resumes and social media platforms.

For more information on the digital badging process, go to Digital Badging Initiatives (