Certifying Your Future: Making Sense of Micro-Credentials

This webinar is brought to you by five Skillnet Networks: Aviation Skillnet, ICBE Advanced Productivity Skillnet, ICBE Business Excellence Skillnet, Galway Executive Skillnet and Taste4Success Skillnet.

Adapting a phrase by Ronald Barnett, Professor Mark Brown from the National Institute of Digital Learning (NIDL) at Dublin City University (DCU) put the little understood nature of micro-credentials into perspective saying “Micro-credentials should be in the service of big ideas and not as a big idea.  Many peoples perspective of micro-credentials is rooted in traditional notions of badging or gaming and this can be a problematic experience.”

Mark highlighted the lack of a shared precise definition with a number of divergent views of experts before settling on the perspective offered by Emeritus Professor Beverly Oliver from Deakin University who offered that ‘a micro-credential is a certification of assessed learning that is additional, alternate, complementary to or a formal component of a formal qualification’.  Building on this he presented three different types.   The first being a stackable, credit bearing akin to building blocks that is focused on vertical, life-long learning and can be formal and non-formal.  A second type more resembled a honey comb where the learner fill in the gaps and can represent more horizontal, life-wide type learning and is informal and non formal.  The final type presented was diagonal – reflecting professional learning that is non formal and semi-formal.

Separated into four quadrants along the axis of credit bearing/non credit bearing and bundled/unbundled the credential ecology encompasses formal accredited degrees, formal & semi formal micro-credentials, semi-formal short courses and non-formal and informal badges.

The drivers of micro-credential are many – ranging from the considerable progress already achieved in MOOCs, despite a lack of consistency, to changing organisational views on the value of educational qualifications alongside other job qualifications.  However the European Skills Agenda and the move towards standards recognising the results of shorter and more targeted training courses demonstrate commitment and progress toward adopting micro-credentialing.  

In looking at how Ireland might respond, Associate Professor Mairéad Nic Giolla Mhichíl from NIDL at DCU University pointed at the Australian investment in a marketplace for micro-credentials led by Morrison Government.  

In Ireland, significant progress has also been made as evident in the Digital Badge Symposium which looked at the future of workforce learning and the application of digital badges and micro-credentials with Mairéad noting we need to move beyond warm body badges towards credit bearing ones.  An example of this can be found in the DCU developmented micro-credentials for FinTech.  Key to this was co-creation, working across sectors and with industry.

Trusted platforms for publishing and managing micro-credentials are essential and Mairéad pointed to Digitary and Credly’s Acclaim platforms alongside the more recent development of europass.  The latter allows citizens to publish and collect their learnings and qualifications in a pan European aggregated and trusted platform.

Finishing up the webinar, Mark launched the Irish National Survey of Micro-Credentials, which is aimed at helping to better understand both current and future opportunities and will be used to inform a Research Project that is jointly sponsored by five Skillnet Networks: Aviation Skillnet, ICBE Advanced Productivity Skillnet, ICBE Business Excellence Skillnet, Galway Executive Skillnet and Taste4Success Skillnet.

You can browse the presentation below.