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  • Writer's pictureAlmeera Eman

Connecting your gap year to the metaverse - The role of digital credentials

Finding a job, education and credentialing look very different to what it has been in the past. Ever since entering the digital era, the metaverse, digital badges and micro credentials have taken things by storm, and are something that you do not want to miss out on!

In today’s episode, Michelle dives deep into the world of digital badges. What they are, where you can earn them and how to display them so you can tap into valuable networks and get connected with the right people.

The best part is that CanGap offers digital badges and credentials for gappers! We’ll walk you through our internationally recognized Student of Leadership and Humanity Award, and how you can validate the learning that happens on your gap year!

Topics Discussed

  • Exploring the Metaverse! What is it, how can you take advantage of it and how is it relevant to your gap year.

  • Diving deeper into the world of digital badges and credentials.

  • Leveraging LinkedIn to tap into your network and land your dream internship and work positions.

  • How your Gap Year is the perfect opportunity to explore the metaverse and earn digital badges to give you a jumpstart in your professional development.

  • CanGap’s very own digital credentials, The Student of Leadership and Humanity Award!

Resources Mentioned In This Episode


Michelle Dittmer - 00:00

How in the world is the metaverse and your gap year related? If this doesn't make any sense to you, we'll have a listen to this week's episode of the Gap Year podcast where we're going to explore how you get digital credentials on your gap year in order to set yourself up for future success and how to make the algorithm work for you.

Now if this all sounds like a different language we will break it down for you in this upcoming episode, so take a listen.

Michelle Dittmer - 01:17

Hey there and welcome to the Gap Year podcast. My name is Michelle Dittmer and I am your host and gap year expert.

Today we are going to nerd out completely nerd out over the metaverse and digital badges and things that might seem pretty complex, but we're going to break it down to its simplest terms and why are we going to do this?

We're going to do this because fake news has been such a huge topic of discussion over the past few years, um, we have seen all sorts of claims being made that are not true. We hear stories of people buying reviews or likes or followers on social media. We've heard of people creating phony profiles or phony business web pages or charity web pages, and it's getting really hard to discern what is real and trustworthy and what is completely false and made-up.

And we can see this very much as consumers so if we take it into the realm of just consumerism and what we are buying, we don't necessarily always trust a flyer we get in the mail that will say something like Halifax is best donair shop because it could very well be an empty claim.

There's nothing backing it up; somebody can just slam that on their flyer and send it out to everyone.

But we are learning to trust other resources like Yelp or Google reviews or even a word of mouth recommendation from a trusted friend.

And now why is that? It's because we trust the source, and the person making the claim can't just make it up. So somebody on Yelp or Google reviews can't necessarily have all of those reviews made-up; they're coming from real people.

So there's a trustworthiness that's happening there and we're seeing that same idea translate into the world of skills and professional development and employability, because anyone can claim that they are proficient in using Microsoft Excel or in speaking Mandarin.

But how true are those claims and who's backing up those claims? And we're seeing more and more that this is what employers are asking these days. What's going to stop people from just making these skill claims and experiences that they don't actually have employers are hiring people based on what they see and becoming disappointed when that employee is not proficient in Microsoft Excel or can not speak fluent Mandarin as they claimed on their resume.

So we're really looking for something that's going to enhance the validity of these claims that we make so Dun da da, enter digital credentials.

Michelle Dittmer - 04:23

So this might be the first time that you're hearing of digital badges or digital credentials, but they've actually been around for over a decade.

I've been attending conferences on this, I've been staying really, really close to it because I can see that this is really the future of education and employability and we're seeing even within Ontario, the provincial government has put down $60 million to get behind micro credentials and digital credentialing here.

So it really has been around for a long time and over time it's been slowly working out the kinks and gaining traction within schools and employers and the earners themselves.

So to give you a little bit of context, digital badges are kind of the girl guide badges of the 21st century. So way back in the day or even in some current spheres, you needed to be able to demonstrate a skill before you were given a badge to sew on your little sash.

So you needed to show that you had developed that competency and somebody would award you that badge and so really it's the same thing translated, but just to the digital space, because having a sash and carrying that around isn't necessarily very practical, practical or very translatable into a world where we are so much more digital.

Michelle Dittmer - 06:00

But so let's break this down, let's look at the anatomy of what this digital badge is so we need a digital badge itself, which is a digital piece of collateral, so usually it has some sort of image associated with it.

And then behind the scenes there's a whole bunch of metadata that is completely transparent, so people can actually click on it and they can see who was this badge issued to. Who was the badge issued by? What date was it earned? What is the specific criteria that the earner needed to demonstrate in order to be able to earn this badge?

Some of them even have expiry dates on them or they hold endorsements from other people that will also stand behind it.

So there is this digital piece of collateral that is just jam packed with so much information for people to actually be able to dive in and see that this is truly belonging to the earner and what they needed to do to do it to earn it.

So again, there's a third party issuer standing behind the fact that you have this skill or this competency or this experience and saying no, this badge belongs to the earner and they can display it anywhere they want.

Michelle Dittmer - 07:25

So some people will post it on their social media, maybe they'll just write it on their LinkedIn profile that they have it.

But really the most dynamic space to be using this is on your LinkedIn profile, which everyone should have by the way.

Even if you are a high school student or a recent high school grad, what a great project to do on your gap year is get that LinkedIn profile up and running.

Michelle Dittmer - 07:52

So we've got this badge, but it has to be issued by an issuer. So this is a group or organisation that's going to create the badge in the back end and they're going to be able to back up or stand behind the person who has earned it and we're going to be able to say that yes, so and so has completed the required criteria to be deemed proficient in this particular task.

So we've got the earner that gets the badge, we've got the issuer that creates the badge, and then we have this badge itself that can be given a home perhaps on LinkedIn.

So like I was saying, what can you do with this badge? Really, the most popular and the most useful place to put it is on your LinkedIn profile.

So this takes some of those kinds of nebulous claims into backed official confirmation of a skill or competency or experience that you have been part of and what it does is it allows that anyone can verify that it's real they can dive in deep and learn more about what was needed to earn that badge and they can see the proof that you were telling the truth about the skills and competencies that you have.

So I think it's just such a forward thinking tool and we're starting to see that this is becoming more and more important as we get into the world of algorithms and AI and curated content.

Michelle Dittmer - 09:26

So let's jump into this metaverse thing a little bit. So why is it so important that we build this virtual profile as we move forward into the future of work?

So we hear about the Metaverse, and people have various levels of comfort and knowledge about this space. Basically, the Metaverse allows us to have our physical being and our physical like skills, competencies, interests be represented in a digital space, which is really, really cool.

Some people have this idea back to when The Sims was a really popular game where there was a simulation of real life and there were various characters, and that might be familiar to you, and that might be what you're thinking, but it goes beyond that. Or perhaps some of our gamers have particular characters or profiles in the games that they play.

That can be leveled up or acquired new skills or new armor or weapons or even building experience points. But the metaverse is allowing us to build a virtual representation of who we are, both personally and professionally, so that it can be searchable.

So that we do have this ability to communicate what is important to us and what we're bringing to the world in a digital space so that other people can see it.

And other people from around the world, we can show off all of that, all of the things that we are in this digital space, rather than just those who physically come in contact with us in person.

So as we become more globally connected, it's going to be more and more important to get this out there into a digital space. So years ago, years and years ago, resumes were sufficient for getting a job.

That was for hundreds of years how you went about getting a job. You have your CV, it lists your experience, it lists your education, and off you go then we saw that morph into having a LinkedIn profile, which is still very, very crucial in this process.

And now we're moving a step even further into this digital space, where having digital badges and credentials can really enhance how you represent yourself in the digital world.

So really it's all about being able to showcase your skills and your competencies and all of the amazing things that you are doing because it's going to allow you to connect with people and opportunities in the digital space through incredible algorithms.

So algorithms are a way that technology functions to be able to provide you with things that are more relevant to you.

So with technology, the algorithms can read your digital footprint and they are curating content for you constantly.

So think about when you're talking about toothpaste or you look at that one ad for horseback riding lessons and all of a sudden your social feeds are just full of content supporting that thing that you're looking for so in the same way we see that again the, the analogy from the consumer space into the professional space, we want to be matched with people and jobs that are aligned with our interests and things that we're good at and so in the same space, same way that when we put things out on social media or we do those Google searches and we get tagged in the back end of all these folks and we get targeted for some of those consumer options.

We want the same thing to happen, but in a professional space We want to be presented with job opportunities or travel opportunities or volunteer opportunities that align with our interests and things that we're good at.

So we can be more in control of this by putting out there into the digital world the things that we've been working on and the skills that we have so that recruiters or companies or even just the algorithm in the back end of LinkedIn, can actually read our page. They can't read our minds. What's going on in our minds? What's going on offline.

These algorithms and these companies and recruiters, they can't, they can't search for that. But when we put it online, we can really make magic happen.

Michelle Dittmer - 14:00

Now, people have always said to me that I've been lucky in all of the things that I've been able to do and achieve and connect with throughout my career, and while I'll say that luck plays a small part of it in terms of who I was born to, the skin colour, I have a lot of the privilege that I have that falls into the luck side.

But the amazing things that I have done in my life, they come a lot from putting myself out there about speaking up about what I want and what I'm good at and allowing that knowledge and I put it out there, allowing other people to find that of me and connect with me for opportunities.

Now, getting digital badges and credentials and creating a very professional LinkedIn profile will help you to be able to harness some of that superpower by playing into the ability to get these things into the digital space, you will then receive more content that is curated specifically for what you're looking for.

So this digital space isn't something to be feared, it's something to embrace and to make it do the work for you.

It's a lot easier for the algorithm to find you your dream job than it is for you to go out and hunt it down. So let's lean into that.

Michelle Dittmer - 15:30

But obviously this is helpful for everyone, but we are a gap year podcast, so let's connect this back to the gap year space.

My first recommendation is that you check out our gap year Ambassador AJ's video and we'll link to that in the show notes where he talks about all of the things that he was able to do on his gap year and get recognition for and get badges or get certificates and he has them all on his LinkedIn profile.

So I highly recommend not only watching his video about that, but also checking out his LinkedIn profile. You would think that AJ is 1000 years old, based on all of the things that he's done but I really want you to see that all of these things are digital credentials that are working in his favor by documenting what he has done and it literally paid off for him getting a scholarship to UofT.

So definitely check out that resource, it is a great one and as AJ says in his little video, so many organisations out there are already offering micro credentials, micro internships, and other experiences that you can add to your Metaverse professional persona.

So my recommendation is on your gap year, get out there, get involved, and make sure you get to document it. There's all of these jokes going around that if there's if there's not a photo on social media, did it even happen?

And that's the same mantra we need to have for our gap year is if you're not putting it on your LinkedIn profile, people aren't going to know that you did all of these amazing things. So don't be shy, get out there, put it on your LinkedIn profile and get that recognition for building your online persona that's gonna help you in the long run. Get jobs and scholarships and all the amazing goodness that's coming your way.

Michelle Dittmer - 17:37

Now here at CanGap, we do offer a digital credential for your gap year. This is an international award called the Student of Leadership and Humanity Award and again, we'll link to this in the show notes so you can check it out.

And it's based on your gap year, the flexibility you have on your gap year to develop some foundational skills that are really going to not only support you in life, but also support you professionally.

So throughout the process of earning this digital credential. You're going to be working on things like goal setting, you're going to work on personal identity.

Who are you? How are you showing you in the world? You're going to work on career planning? So where do you want to take your professional career?

We're going to look at health and Wellness. We're going to look at financial literacy. We're going to look at mentorship. How do you find a mentor? How do you leverage that mentorship relationship? And we're going to tap into project management.

All of these skills are in high demand from employers, and they're not necessarily the things that you can get from heading off to university.

So they are skills that you're going to use in your everyday life, and documenting them and getting them on your LinkedIn profile are going to make opportunities more available to you.

And really, this student of leadership and humanity process is a really great introduction to the life of professional development and investing in yourself and furthering your growth both personally and professionally so that you can get an advantage for your future while still having lots of fun on your gap year.

And I think that's really, really essential is that we are not looking to make more work for your gap year. We just want to be able to capture all of the learning and growth that's already happening on your gap year and translate it into a currency that you can use to get jobs, scholarships into school and so that you can make the algorithm work in your favour.

So that is how we want you to leverage your gap year in the Metaverse and getting things up and posted so you can get a leg up on the competition and feel good about how much you are growing, changing, and accomplishing as a human being.

If you have questions about this or want to talk more, a nerd out with us, by all means, feel free to book a chat with us.

We would love to take you on a tour and show you how you can earn the student of leadership and humanity on your gap year. Have a great one and until next time, my friends, keep on adventuring.

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