Showcasing students’ skills and achievements by way of resume line items and transcripts no longer serves as powerful a purpose as it once did. Instead, many colleges and universities have gone the way of ePortfolios to help students create a digital history and presentation of their accomplishments, both inside the classroom and elsewhere. While ePortfolios have made waves in improving the way student work and experience is displayed, not to mention streamlining how employers can easily match skill sets with relevant job requirements, another aspect of ePortfolios is becoming an equally important tool.
Digital badges are online records of achievements, skills, interests, affiliations, or roles, based on pre-determined criteria. The badge issuer, typically an educator, grants digital badges to students who have, through evidence-based evaluation, shown that they successfully completed a specific task, assignment, or project. Digital badges are granted when the specific criteria set by the issuer is met, and students then have a quick, easy certification of the work they have accomplished that can be showcased through their ePortfolio. It sounds simple, but digital badges add so much to the ePortfolio universe, for students, educators, and employers.
When a digital badge is earned and ultimately added to a student’s ePortfolio, it creates an added degree of trust to the equation. The issuer of the badge has the responsibility to ensure the skills necessary to earn the certification are present and verifiable. This makes it easy for someone viewing a student’s ePortfolio to quickly see that he or she has the knowledge, skills, attitudes, or values required to achieve the specific accomplishment.
Additionally, both faculty and employers can search for certain digital badges in a robust ePortfolio platform. This ability greatly reduces the amount of time it takes to find students who are doing the work, and trust is inherent to the process given the fact that badges are only granted when evidence of completion or mastery is present. Digital badges then work as powerful connectors between students and prospective employers – much more than a traditional line item list of achievements in and outside the classroom.
The addition of digital badges to the ePortfolio environment create situations where informal learning and formal education meet head on. The combination of these tools allows students to highlight the accomplishments to which they are most connected, while also giving employers and faculty a simple, fast method to verify skill sets in a digital platform.