• Esther Grieder

How can we recognise and reward interpersonal skills in a digital learning world?

Diplomas look great hanging on a wall, but in a digital driven world who will ever see it or recognise it other than it being a background in a zoom call? Esther writes about the recent collaboration between HPass and Gamoteca as a way to reward and recognise interpersonal skills through Open Badges.


I work for the Humanitarian Leadership Academy, where I lead an initiative called HPass. The platform enables humanitarians to set up an online profile on which to store and display digital badges as verifiable evidence of their skills and experience. Humanitarians can maintain one profile throughout their careers, as they move between roles and organisations. Over 30 organisations issue badges through the platform. At HPass we’ve become very interested in how to recognise and reward different kinds of skills and experiences, but we've found a couple challenges in how to do so when it comes to interpersonal skills.


Difficult to Assess


Interpersonal skills are essential for all kinds of teams and organisations to operate effectively, as well as for individual career success. All manner of technical expertise may be rendered relatively useless without the interpersonal skills which enable it to be effectively communicated and linked into the work of a wider team. However, these kinds of skills are notoriously difficult to assess. This is because the most important thing with interpersonal skills is not what you know, but what you do. This cannot be assessed via a multiple choice test, but requires a reviewer to observe, interact and provide nuanced feedback.


Practice required


As well as being difficult to assess through traditional methods, interpersonal skills are almost impossible to develop without practice. You can’t read a list of interview tips and immediately excel in an interview- you need to hear how your answers sound and are received by an interviewer. Practice enables you to test out your answers and build up muscle memory by doing the same thing repeatedly.


This poses a problem because in real life there aren’t many opportunities to practice skills such as interviews or public-speaking, without there being a real audience and real consequences of poor performance. And facing a real audience without practice can cause a lot of anxiety and negative outcomes.


Partnering with Gamoteca to recognise interpersonal skills for career success



The purpose of HPass is to recognise the whole spectrum of skills and experience in the humanitarian sector, not limited to formal learning and assessment which creates a bias towards Global North countries, whilst the majority of humanitarian actors are actually based in the Global South. We are looking at a range of approaches to recognise learning, behaviours, interpersonal skills, and experience some specifically relevant to humanitarian actors, and others more general skills needed for any role.


Gamoteca’s learning format offers one great solution to the problem of how to recognise behaviours and interpersonal skills. By enabling its users to record themselves practicing, and receive feedback from a course ‘buddy’, it provides an experience very close to reality, but without the high stakes involved in a real interview or speech. Course buddies do not have to be online at the same time but can submit and review recordings at times convenient for them.

We’ve partnered with Gamoteca to create the ‘Interpersonal Skills for Career Success’ course, hosted on Kaya, which enables HPass users to practice and receive recognition for their skills, via an HPass badge.


The course has three parts – Interview Skills, Public-Speaking and Mentoring for Mentors, each of which is HPass badged. On completion of all three sections and a feedback form, participants receive the overall ‘Interpersonal Skills for Career Success’ badge. All badges can be displayed on a myHPass profile, from which they can be added to a Linked In profile, posted on social media, or shared as a QR code or link. The profile as a whole can also be shared.


What's next?


We’re looking forward to sharing the course and gathering feedback from users! In particular we’re interested in whether the need to identify a course buddy is a barrier, in a world where learning is now often completely independent and self-paced. This course combines a self-paced approach with the possibility for human connection and feedback, a piece of the puzzle that is often missing from digital learning today.

Remember: When launching the Gamoteca experiences from the course, make sure to sign in with your Kaya login details so your progress is tracked and you can claim your badges.


On completion of the course you will automatically receive your badges and be prompted to set up an HPass profile.