Harnessing the power of digital badges to help create future ready graduates.

O'Brien, Anne Marie (2019) Harnessing the power of digital badges to help create future ready graduates.


Higher education has seen an upsurge in recent times in the use of digital badges for the recording of student achievement. According to Dowling-Hetherington & Glowtaz [1], many students in higher education today have grown up with the internet and consider digital media to be a very useful learning tool. A digital badge represents an accomplishment in the same way that a traditional badge such as one received from the girl guides would have. However, a digital badge is available online and contains all the meta-data and links required to explain its context and meaning. In essence digital badges provide three things motivation, status recognition and evidence of achievement [2]. Taking all this into account, they have the potential (when used correctly) to become an alternative system for awarding mico-credentials. The piece of work undertaken for this paper looked at a large scale pilot study to award digital badges to participants and category winners in Ireland’s first Science Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) network conference (2018) aimed at students from Ireland’s Institutes of Technology. The conference ran simultaneously over three venues with 28 oral presenters, 64 poster presentations and almost 600 delegates. A total of 104 digital badges were awarded from the SURE network with an acceptance rate of 79%. A follow up survey of recipients revealed that while 90% had never come across a digital badge they found it easy to accept and 75% said they would use it on LinkedIn and their CVs (Curriclum Vitae). The recipients found the badges a motivating factor and while some expressed concerns that employers might not recognise their value, 58% stated that they would be useful for their careers. Following on from this successful pilot, digital badges will be used in subsequent SURE network conferences with an annual evaluation measuring the impact of the badges planned.

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