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February 28, 2022

Digital Badges to Highlight the Achievements of Students

This real-life story is the translation of a text first published in Eductive’s French edition.

Every school program aims to do more than help students acquire a basic set of competencies. However, fostering the development of professional attitudes, for example, may be complicated, because it is not associated with a grade. This is where digital badges can help! At the International School of Hotel Management & Tourism we have, since 2018, used badges to promote the values that are important for us, and we are very satisfied with the results.

The values of our school

At LaSalle College’s International School of Hotel Management & Tourism, we try to teach 13 important values to our students:

  • professionalism
  • rigor
  • leadership
  • creativity
  • team spirit
  • respect for others
  • analytical skills
  • professional appearance
  • self evaluation
  • communication
  • self confidence
  • organization
  • ICT skills

Every fall, when we welcome new students, we organize a ceremony to present those values and explain their importance. However, I have long thought that we did not properly follow up on that ceremony, since relatively little was done to support students’ development of those values after their 1st semester of studies.

In 2018, I had the idea to put in place a system of digital badges at the International School of Hotel Management & Tourism. The objective was to recognize publicly the students who integrate the values of the school during their studies.

The possibility to share those digital badges on LinkedIn was necessary. Ideally, potential employers will be able to see those badges on the profile of the students that have received them and give more importance to their candidacy.

I discussed the project with the director, Ingrid Beauvais, and we decided to create badges for each value of the school. Every teacher decided to take part in the project!

How are the badges attributed?

At the end of each semester, the teachers meet to attribute the badges to the most deserving students, the ones who have really demonstrated that they had integrated one or more of the school’s values.

Each teacher is invited to name the students who they believe deserve to receive a badge. For a student to receive a badge, at least 3 teachers must pledge for them.

At the beginning of each semester, the name of all students who have earned a badge is revealed. In the fall semester, this is done during the large gathering where the values are described to the students who are starting their 1st semester. The students who have earned a badge go on stage and are recognized by their peers.

The students receive a digital badge that they can link to their LinkedIn account. (All the students of the program have a LinkedIn account, since they must create one in their Research Methodology course during the 1st semester.)

The badges feature the logo of the college and were created by LaSalle College using Accredible. Using Accredible is free to award badges to less than 20 people, but becomes premium afterward.

The badges given out by the International School of Hotel Management & Tourism

Some generous teachers would like to give out badges to all students, other are much stricter. In my opinion, badges should not be too difficult or too easy to earn. If too large a number of students were to receive them, it could reduce their value for students who have truly earned their badges by demonstrating the targeted values.

Requiring 3 teachers to pledge for a student’s candidacy for each badge balances things well. Of the 200-something students of the school, we hand out about 20 badges per semester (and a student may receive more than one per semester!).

Students’ reactions

The students are very proud of their badges. They display them proudly on their LinkedIn account and often create a post to talk about them. They share them on Facebook to show them to their friends and families. They can also mention them in their resumés and in the cover letters they write to employers.

LinkedIn post by a student who received a badge

Teachers’ reactions

All the teachers of the school love the project. It is a great opportunity for positive reinforcement. It is also enjoyable for the teachers to nominate students so that they receive badges!

A less formal variation

In my courses, I sometimes give out “Kudos” on LinkedIn to some students at the end of a semester.

: View of the menu that allows to choose “Kudos” to send someone on LinkedIn. We can see different choices: “Thank you”, “Going Above and Beyond” “Inspirational Leader”, and “Team Player”

Preview of the menu that allows to send “Kudos” to someone on LinkedIn

Kudos I sent a student

I organize a small award ceremony at the end of the semester. It is much less official than the badges handed out by the school, but it still very much appreciated by the students.

A tool to recognize professional attitudes

The digital badge of the International School of Hotel Management & Tourism and the kudos that I give my students are not linked in any way to the grades that they receive. We have developed the badge system to valorise professional attitudes important to our field and, especially, valorise the students who demonstrate them. We can consider this mission accomplished!

About the author

Julie Hébert

Teacher at LaSalle College’s International School of Hotel Management & Tourism since 2008, Julie Hébert has initiated many projects to highlight the achievements of students outside of the college (Ambassador program and digital badges program). She regularly hosts workshops and webinars about various pedagogical practices. She is the coordinator of the Groupe de recherche en innovations pédagogiques (GRIP), a group she founded that aims to encourage the use of innovative pedagogies at LaSalle College. In 2020, she received the AQPC’s Honourable Mention for the excellence of her work

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