Open Badges and the 3D student

I’ve talked a lot about badges and how they are useful in providing structure around specific sets of skills. We have been fortunate enough to bring badges into various aspects of university life, not to motivate but to provide recognition for contributions for activities associated with university life. In particular, they have been used to provide students with the opportunity to showcase aspects of professional skills and to support the development of digital literacies skills. A key aspect of using Open Badges in this way has been to highlight the digital skills of students, and so managing their online presence. There is so much that a student can say about their own skills but the feature of using badges is to provide evidence. Evidence to support the criteria, being open and transparent so that the audience can decide for themselves if that person has provided enough to warrant their award.


One way we have been doing this has been to combine the use of open badges with an eportfolio. This has been because we wanted to the students to represent themselves as a ‘whole’. The LinkedIn CV is one representation of their skills and attributes but it is not the whole story. There are awards, skills and achievements that many of us have but they never see the light of day. Just having a certificate isn’t enough, each recipient of a badge may have the same criteria but its the individual contribution that makes the difference. By using Badges for highlighting these specifics and portfolios for all their evidence, we can shine a light on how they have contributed and also find out more about the ‘whole’ person. It’s what I’ve referred to as the ‘3D student’.

Photo by William Iven on Unsplash

Of course, its not just students who can produce these portfolios and gain badges. More and more of evidence for professional qualifications ask for portfolios. I was awarded my Senior Fellowship of the HEA and produced my portfolio. In that case, I was awarded a certificate (paper based) which I then had to upload into my online portfolio, badge would have been better and instantly accessible, adding to my online presence and providing data to the organisation from which it is issued.

I’ve been lucky enough to work with amazing students and Callum Taylor, founder of the social enterprise, Connect is no exception. He has been the driving force to get the students union and the university together and despite being a final year medical student, he has been determined to make this a success. Connect is based around a range of activities and opportunities that students participate in and contributed to within the Faculty of Medicine and from October 15th it will be available across the university. Students can have a further opportunity to gain Badges to add into their online spaces and highlight and enhance their CV and portfolios. It is currently open to University of Southampton students, anyone can upload an event, job or activity and students can request more information, so it really is connecting our students with the university and communities in a productive way.

I’m looking forward to helping students recognise their potential in a global way and will be working with the Students Union to support them with the skills they need to make this a success. For more information about Connnect and Badges, feel free to get in touch.

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