How is the trend toward microcredentialing impacting how we think about training and education?
Curated Resources on Microcredentials and Badges
Microcredentialing 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.
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 >
- Got Skills? Why Online Competency Based Education is the Disruptive Innovation for Higher Education. By Michelle R. Weise, EDUCAUSE Review, November 2014
- College Degrees and the Future @ Transforming EDU CES 2016 (video, 27 min). Living in Digital Times: Panel with Jeffrey Young, Mike Buttry, Ryan Craig, Jonathan Finkelstein, and Melissa Loble
// Microcredentials >
- Data, Technology, and the Great Unbundling of Higher Education. By Ryan Craig and Allison Williams, EDUCAUSE Review, August 2015
- Alternative Credentials: New Ways to Certify Learning. By David Schejbal, Unbound, Winter 2016
- Microcredentials and Higher Education: A proposed ethical taxonomy. By James E. Willis III, Viktoria A. Srunk, and Tasha L. Hardtner, EDUCAUSE Review, April 2016
// Badging >
Badging is another term for a microcredential, and is often used in the context of corporate learning and professional development.
- Are Digital Badges a New Measurement of Mastery? By Amanda Opperman, ATD Science of Learning blog, May 2015
- What Counts as Learning: Open Digital Badges for New Opportunities (pdf). By Sheryl Grant, Digital Media and Learning Research Hub, 2014
- 7 Things You Should know About Badging for Professional Development, EDUCAUSE, 2015
- The Potential and Value of Using Digital Badges for Adult Learners. American Institutes of Research Report by Jonathan Finkelstein, Erin Knight, and Susan Manning, 2013
// Technology for Microcredentials >
// Microcredentialing Examples >
- Digital Promise: Deeper Learning Microcredentials – Note how the requirements and criteria for earning each badge is spelled out.
- Nano Degree programs at Udacity – designed in collaboration with businesses like Google and AT&T, some promising jobs on completion.
- General Assembly – offers technology microcredentials
- Fullbridge – appears to partner with higher ed institutions, businesses, and others to offer training on communication, financial agility, leadership design thinking, and other skills
// Web sites with multiple resources >
- Digital Badges. HASTAC Curated Resources, including video, research, and examples
- MacArthur Foundation Digtial Badges. Curated resources.
- Badge Alliance. An alliance of working groups trying to figure out how to standardize badging.
- Competency Based Education Network – Check out important resources for design CBE and the infrastructure necessary to make it successful.
Last updated: July 19, 2016 by Catherine Lombardozzi
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