Microcredentials and Badges

How is the trend toward microcredentialing impacting how we think about training and education?

Curated Resources on Microcredentials and Badges

graduation cap tossMicrocredentialing and badging strategies offer individuals the opportunity to earn certification on a narrow knowledge base or skill. These credentials can then be “stacked” to give a full view of an individual’s knowledge and skill base, potentially making him or her more immediately marketable for certain jobs. The concept of microcredential is given a number of different names: nano-degree, badge, certificate, or bootcamp to name a few.

In corporate learning and development, microcredentialing is viewed as a way to address the drawbacks of one-size-fits-all training and development programs. Rather than requiring completion of training programs, many organizations are considering ways to track demonstrated skills. Microcredentials can help employees to develop the specific skills they need to move to new roles or to be more effective in their current roles.

Microcredentialing is being touted as a disruptive force in higher education. Critics point out a number of challenges with traditional college education: that graduates are leaving college without the specific skills employers want, that college students are required to take courses not directly related to their majors (or employability), that students seem to be earning credit for seat time more rather for demonstrating knowledge and skill, and that it is difficult to get “credit” for what a student already knows. Competency-based education, sometimes enabled by microcredentialing, addresses some of that critique by basing course or degree completion on accumulating specific competencies rather than on passing classes.

Once you align employability with acquiring specific competencies (rather than a degree), the door is open for alternative ways of achieving those competencies. Some of the current buzz in training and education is about the possibility that non-academic bodies and third party vendors may be able to grant legitimate alternative credentials that will be highly valued in the marketplace. Rather than a 120-credit degree program or a comprehensive in-house corporate development program, it might be valuable for employees to simply pursue a set of “microcredentials” that validates specific skills.

One drawback to consider is how this kind of skill development is funded. Stay tuned for changes in tuition reimbursement and grant programs to make room to pay for these kinds of programs. Unfortunately, it is also true that employees themselves may have to bear the cost (and risk) of enrolling in microcredentialing programs.

Curated Recommendations

Competency based education and microcredentialing are parallel concepts. CBE defines the skills that that are needed and microcredentialing is one way acquire evidence that an individual indeed has demonstrated a given skill.

// Competency Based Education >

// Microcredentials >

// Badging >

Badging is another term for a microcredential, and is often used in the context of corporate learning and professional development.

// Technology for Microcredentials >

// Microcredentialing Examples >

// Web sites with multiple resources >

Last updated: July 19, 2016 by Catherine Lombardozzi
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