Make Room for Microsoft on the Digital Badges Bandwagon
I've been tracking and talking to the Big Three certification providers (Cisco, CompTIA and Microsoft) for more than two years now without getting a sense of progress or gathering momentum from any of them.
Imagine my surprise, then, on Thursday (Oct. 20), when I stumbled across an announcement on the Microsoft Learning Born to Learn blog with the eye-catching headline "Introducing Digital Badges for Microsoft Certified Professionals." I guess I'd known it was just a matter of time before somebody bit off on badging their credentials, but it still came as a somewhat welcome shock to see it happening at long last.
The badges are going to become available as of Oct. 21, through Pearson VUE subsidiary Acclaim, which creates digital records for certain MS exams and cert credentials to let IT professionals proclaim having passed the former and achieved the latter. Acclaim recently helped Oracle transition to digital badges, so they know what they're doing.
And, as I have long hoped, Acclaim's digital badges do support the Mozilla Open Badges standard. So the new Microsoft badges should be readily accessible and interchangeable online, via the web, e-mail, social networks, and so forth.
The real substance on the badging effort appears on the Microsoft Badges web page, which is chock full of details and interesting information. Here's what the page says under the heading "What is a digital badge?"
"Badges are web-enabled representations of your Microsoft certifications. Your digital badge is made of an image and metadata uniquely linked to you. This ensures that only you can take credit for your achievement.
"You can share your digital badge to popular online destinations, such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. It can also be embedded in a r�sum�, your personal website, or an e-mail signature. Anyone who views your badge can select it to learn more about your skills and to verify its authenticity."
Here's a list of various exams and credentials eligible for grants of a digital badge (the quick take on eligible certs may be succinctly stated as "all new-version MCSE and MCSD, plus all pre-req MCSA"):
? 70-473: Designing and Implementing Cloud Data Platform Solutions
? 70-475: Designing and Implementing Big Data Analytics Solutions
? 70-532: Developing Microsoft Azure Solutions
? 70-533: Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions
? 70-534: Architecting Microsoft Azure Solutions
? 70-740: Installation, Storage and Compute with Windows Server 2016
? 70-741: Networking with Windows Server 2016
? 70-742: Identity with Windows Server 2016
? 70-743: Upgrading Your Skills to MCSA: Windows Server 2016
? MCSA: Cloud Platform
? MCSA: Linux® on Azure
? MCSA: Office 365
? MCSA: SQL 2016 Business Intelligence Development
? MCSA: SQL 2016 Database Administration
? MCSA: SQL 2016 Database Development
? MCSA: SQL Server 2012/2014
? MCSA: Universal Windows Platform
? MCSA: Web Applications
? MCSA: Windows 10
? MCSA: Windows Server 2012
? MCSA: Windows Server 2016
? MCSD: App Builder
Thus, it's all the new stuff that Microsoft has just made the future focus of its streamlined cert program that is in the realm of digital badging. What with the other certs set to expire on March 31, I guess it makes sense that they wouldn't bother with the older stuff.
That said, I imagine that cert holders of older credentials likely to stay meaningful — if not "officially current" or "active" to use the new MS term; credentials such as Windows Server 2012 related certs, the current and reigning enterprise Windows Server platform — may feel somewhat less sanguine about this decision.
The only other "catch" is that these credentials must be earned on or after Oct. 21 to qualify for digital badging. If you've already earned one of these certs, then you'll be issued a retroactive badge sometime in November.
Additional badges are under consideration for 2017, but no further details are currently available. I've got a call into Larry Kaye, a Senior Strategy Manager at Microsoft Learning, to see if I can get more information about this. Count on me to provide more details as I learn them.