The Future of Education

Edition 10

Accepted Abstracts

Harnessing the Power of Digital Badges to Help Create Future Ready Graduates

Ann Marie O'Brien, Athlone Institute of Technology (Ireland)


Higher education has seen an upsurge in recent times in using digital badges for student development. According to Dowling-Hetherington et al (2017) many students in higher education today have grown up with the internet and are 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. However, a digital badge is available on line and contains all the metadata and links required to explain its context and meaning. In essence digital badges provide three things Motivation, Status recognition and evidence of achievement (Gibson et al, 2013). Taking all this into account they have the potential when used correctly to become an alternative system for awarding credentials. The piece of work undertaken for this paper looked at a large scale pilot study to award Digital badges to participant and category winners in Ireland’s first science undergraduate research conference (SURE) network (2018) dedicated to students from Institutes of Technology. The conference was run simultaneously over three venues with over 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 75%. A follow up survey of recipients revealed that while 90% had never come across a digital badge they found it easy to accept and 82% said they would use it on LinkedIn and CV. The recipients found the badges a motivating factor, some expressed concerns that employers might not recognise their value yet 58% still stated that they would be useful for their career. Following on from the success of this successful pilot the digital badges will be used in subsequent SURE network conferences and a long-term longitudinal study measuring the impact of the badges is planned.

Keywords: Digital badge, Undergraduate, Conference, Impact;

[1] Dowling-Hetherington, Linda and Glowatz, Matt (2017) "The Usefulness of Digital Badges in Higher Education: Exploring the Students’ Perspectives," Irish Journal of Academic Practice: Vol. 6: Iss. 1, Article 1.
[2] Gibson, David; Ostashewsk, Nathaniel; Flintoff, Kim; Grant, Sheryl and knight, Erin (2013) “Education and Information Technologies” The Official Journal of the IFIP Technical Committee on Education © Springer Science+Business Media

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