Empowering staff and students with digital badges

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Bulletin speaks to the team behind BadgEd, the University’s open digital badge service, about the benefits of rewarding learning that usually goes unrecognised.

Digital badges, also referred to as micro-credentials, have gained popularity in recent years and the University has capitalised on this by creating the BadgeEd service which allows staff to reward learner achievement and for those learners to easily share their achievements with others.

Open digital badges enable you to securely share a wider range of verifiable learning and professional achievements across different platforms, including social media, employability websites, CVs and portfolios.

Launched in January 2023, BadgEd now has more than 1,500 unique digital badge earners and 53 badges on a diverse range of subjects including PGT (Postgraduate Taught) supervision, data skills, EDI (equality, diversity and inclusion), climate change, widening participation, and charity fundraising.

“It’s a quick win in the sense that we can reward our learners, which is obviously what we all try to do as staff, whether it’s academic staff or professional services,” says Delia Georgescu, a Service Manager in the University’s Digital Learning Applications and Media department.

A man is sat at his laptop where he is watching a woman on zoom
Photograph by Douglas Robertson

Championing staff and students

Staff can also become a BadgEd Champion, which involves providing expertise and support to badge issuers and other University staff interested in digital badges.

Delia Georgescu is encouraging staff to become BadgeEd Champions

Anyone who has the time to commit, their manager’s support, and feels that they could help support their colleagues to get involved in digital badging, could become a Champion. Technical skills are not required, full training is given, and staff would also have the ongoing support of the other Champions.

Delia says: “While we offer central support, we want the schools and the staff within the schools to really own these badges. It’s their activities that they are badging on so we want them to feel confident that the badges are the right solution for this.”

Micro-credentialing is now considered a significant trend in the world of education, allowing staff and students to enhance their knowledge and boost their career.

Tracey Madden, Learning Technology Advisor at the University, says: “Awarding digital badges as a sign of the successful completion of an activity can be a way of rewarding achievement in a way that hasn’t been available to staff and students before.

“Unlike a paper certificate, a digital badge can be shared easily by the earner to the audience of their choice, for instance in their CV or via LinkedIn, and is verified by the issuer so the audience can confirm that the earner has the right to use the badge. Also, unlike certificates, digital badges contain a rich source of information on the activities that the earner took part in, what skills and knowledge they acquired and how they were assessed.

“Offering a digital badge can then be a real encouragement to other learners to get involved, and if those digital badges are shared by earners, then it helps to get the word out even further.”

Lifelong learning

Delia says the digital badges are a way for a School to demonstrate the kind of development activities they offer and capabilities they reward, which may not be widely known beyond those directly involved.

She adds: “It’s a great way to promote the University brand and the skills that we teach, the things that we do aside from the regular degree credited courses, and I think the badges fit into this idea of lifelong learning which is coming to the forefront in the educational context.”

The BadgEd service is currently at a key point in its development, as the project moves from supporting early BadgEd adopters to opening it up to more of the University. It currently has funding until 2026 and then its success will be assessed by senior management to see if it’s meeting its requirements.

Delia is confident that BadgEd will continue for years to come: “Obviously at the end of those three years, I would love to see it become part of our well-established services and it wasn’t just something we tried and failed. To be honest, I’m quite confident that it’s going to stay.

“We have a short course platform that is launching soon which will be aimed at further development and will include non-credited short courses; whether it’s the ones the Centre for Open Learning offers or specific upskilling courses. I can see how we could link BadgEd with the short course platform to encourage learners to keep developing throughout their lifetime.”

Find out more

Looking to become a BadgEd Champion? Email the team at: opendigitalbadges@ed.ac.uk

You will receive full training plus ongoing support from the community of Champions already established.

Badge Champions | The University of Edinburgh


Not ready to become a Champion but still want to help? Share details of BadgEd with your communities so those who support extra-curricular learning know about the Service.

Have an idea for a new digital badge? Explore the BadgEd web pages for an overview and get in touch with your local Champion.

BadgEd (Open Digital Badges) | The University of Edinburgh

BadgEd: Introducing digital badges | Teaching Matters