The education landscape is changing and gone are the days where higher education was only for traditional degree setups. We know the pandemic rewrote the classic learning scenario, giving rise to the importance of micro-credentials. Higher educational settings are one of the primary providers of micro-credentials. They deliver credit-bearing micro-credentials (for which a learner attains credits at completion) and non-credit-bearing micro-credentials (for which a learner does not receive credits). There’s a broad spectrum of what the term micro-credentials mean. For instance, online certification, digital badges in higher education, and many MOOCs (massive open online courses) are often referred to as types of micro-credentials.
As the demand for upskilling and reskilling within the changing face of the world of work has gained importance, notably in the context of the recovery plans surrounding COVID-19, the focus on micro-credentials has amplified. We also know, more than ever, prospective students require utmost flexibility with learning. So, are micro-credentials and non-traditional degrees the future of higher ed? Many industry experts think so. Let’s take a look at why the demand for micro-credentials is on the rise.
Addressing a Skills Gap
In rapidly changing sectors, micro-credentials offer solutions for upskilling, where traditional degrees may not have established grounds. Take, for example, Blockchain technology. This is a highly lucrative multi-million-dollar entity, yet there’s no hard and fast rule for embarking upon such a career. Micro credentials offer a way to gain insight and expertise quickly in an ever-changing landscape and stand out above the competition. In fact, a recent study from Northeastern University found that 61% of HR leaders believe that credentials earned online are of generally equal quality to those completed in-person. This is one of the key benefits of possessing such a qualification, and their credibility is augmented through the reputation of the higher educational setting.
Power to the Tech
A solid digital ecosystem built on open standards paves the way for flexible learning, including examinations. Micro-credentials can be delivered entirely online, with blended learning or in person. For example, two modules may traditionally come from different disciplines, and technology enables learners to combine subjects of their choosing. These are often referred to as “stackable” credentials, where they can serve as stand-alone units or form part of a more extensive certification. What’s more, micro-credentials can be easily tracked digitally for both the learner and the institution — when the right assessment software is in place.
An Interoperable EdTech ecosystem is the underpinning foundation when offering a range of micro-credentials. Interoperability enables learners to access materials and assessments and keep track of their progress, and provides a full view for educators into the student journey. Because micro-credentials stack together, it’s important the the software seamlessly integrates with an institution’s other tools, like LMSs and Student Information Systems. This is achieved through open interoperability standards. When interoperability is at the center of an EdTech ecosystem, institutions can ensure all learners and institutions get the choice, cost savings and data privacy they deserve.
Micro-credentials offer enormous benefits for both the learner and the educational setting providing them. For the institution, they can amplify visibility, enhance reputation and reach a global audience which can help improve student enrollment rates. They can enable a higher education setting to respond to both the labor markets and the students’ needs. For the student, they allow the opportunity to gain further knowledge in a niche area and bring them together with like-minded individuals and top teaching talent, irrespective of their location.
Needless to say, robust micro-credentialing software provides the utmost flexibility to the learner and even the educational setting itself. Many credentials can be stand-alone e-learning courses or even filmed from live lectures. In addition, micro-credentials offer a way to increase their skill set around their current lifestyle and learning style for a prospective student. Whether that’s fitting around a full-time job or managing a family, micro credentials offer a reroute back into education for those that may have experienced a gap in their learning.
Move Forward with Lessons Learnt
Ultimately micro-credentials help any learner to level up and move forward with their career. They enable those who may already have a traditional degree subject to diversify or become specialists in a new area. Whether new to the world of education or adding on to existing qualifications, micro-credentials are rapidly gaining recognition from a multitude of employers. If anything, the pandemic has taught us to push forward and remain competitive. What’s more, we saw many people shift professions and sectors entirely, and the key? Assessment software that enables micro-credentialing.