Notes From the First Year: What Is a Digital Badge?

Author: Fick '20, Annie

Ever heard of a digital badge? I hadn’t until I started learning about ePortfolios.

To answer this question, I spoke with Dr. Maureen Dawson (pictured right), Assistant Dean for Cultural Competency and Engagement in the First Year of Studies. “Digital badges are relatively new to Notre Dame. They are an award for ePortfolios that allows students to document what they learn as they explore outside of the classroom,” she says.

To earn a badge, students work online in their free time to fulfill the requirements specified for the award. They are completely optional and entirely student-driven, offering you the opportunity to convey what you have gained from your personal experience, campus exploration, and academic work using all kinds of media.

“The idea is to engage students who want to learn about a topic on a deeper level, and provide them with valuable skills to help them in their future endeavors,” Dean Dawson explains.

There are two badges that can be received specifically through the Moreau First Year Experience, which students can start as soon as they like. One award is given as soon as students finish them, but the other, the Five Pillars Badge, has a specific due date in the spring.

The workload varies for each badge. The Moreau badges may only take a few hours of work, while the Information Literacy badge definitely takes much more, because it’s geared to help students learn good research skills in the digital age.

There are eighteen Notre Dame badges available right now, including one badge for Information Literacy and five badges associated with the First Year of Studies ND Ignite initiative.

So you might be wondering, why should I do a digital badge? Well, badges are a great product to show future employers. Many are actually designed to teach skills for professional life, while others incorporate skills for med school, study abroad, service learning, and work readiness.

“There is also a lot of room to be creative and unique in your responses, which can set you apart from competitors for a job or study-abroad spot,” Dawson adds.

After you earn the badge, it can be posted to LinkedIn, Facebook, and your resume. There’s even a tab on the ePortfolio for badges so you can add them there once you’ve earned them.

After you earn a badge, you are automatically entered into an ePortfolio competition and you could win a prize!

Still wanting some clarification or direction? Lots of past winners have made their portfolios public; for other students to use as examples.