Editor’s note: eCampus News is exploring the future and potential of microcredentials in a multi-story series. Check back each week for fresh perspectives from educators and industry experts.
The workforce is facing a shift in the recognition of skills and experiences as many individuals have left their jobs and are trying to switch roles completely, alongside millions of open job roles waiting to be filled by qualified candidates. The ability to demonstrate transferable skills provides immense value to individuals and their career path. This shift in the workforce emphasizes the need for intertwining learning, employment, and advancement opportunities more than ever before.
Differing learning opportunities, from supplemental programs within an education setting to training from an organization, benefit from standardized skills verification to prove individuals know what they say they know. Microcredentials can be an effective tool in the evolution of learning and development.
What are microcredentials?
While definitions of microcredentials are as unique as each institution, one way to define and describe them is to tie them to learning outcomes. Therefore, we define microcredentials as a strategy to recognize bite-size learning gained along a path toward a broader competency. For example, an individual may take several courses in succession to earn a certificate. Individuals demonstrate their competency in one specific area before moving on to the next, earning microcredentials along the way. Institutions might also use the term “stackable credentials” in place of microcredentials. The idea is the same; the bite-size learning stacks into a more commonly recognizable outcome, whether that is an academic minor, a certificate, or a designation.
Microcredentials provide motivation for an individual to continue pursuing that more encompassing learning achievement at the end of a path. They can also help an individual make use of their learning as it is acquired–rather than being forced to wait until they’ve earned a full certificate–especially when represented as digital credentials.
What are digital credentials?
Digital credentials provide a common language of knowledge, skills, and abilities for the emerging workforce. Employers use them to help talent management verify, quantify, and understand the skills and competencies of both candidate pools and current employees. Think of microcredentials as the “what” and digital credentials as the “how.” Microcredentials represent what is being learned. Digital credentials are how a student makes use of what is being learned.
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