Microcredentials, or short-form online learning programs, is the latest buzzword that higher education providers are latching onto. They come with diminutive names such as Micromasters (by several universities working with edX) and nanodegrees (by Udacity). But they have the potential to shake up graduate education, potentially reducing demand for longer, more-traditional professional programs. At the core of the trend is the idea that professionals will go “back to school” repeatedly over their lifetimes, rather than carving out years at a time for an MBA or technical degree.
Credential Engine, a nonprofit funded by the Lumina Foundation, Microsoft and JPMorgan Chase, today launched its Credential Registry, a digital platform where institutions can upload degrees and credentials so prospective students can search for and compare credentials side-by-side.
Udacity won a trademark for Nanodegree last year. And in April, the nonprofit edX, founded by MIT and Harvard University to deliver online courses by a consortium of colleges, applied for a trademark on the word MicroMasters. And MicroDegree? Yep, that’s trademarked too, by yet another company.
colleges and universities that seek to meet corporate needs must move beyond monolithic programs and think in terms of competencies, unbundling curriculum, modularizing and “microlearning.” Many institutions are already pioneering efforts in this direction, from the certificate- and badge-oriented University of Learning Store (led by the Universities of Wisconsin, California, Washington and others) to Harvard Business School’s HBX, and the new “iCert” that we developed at Northeastern University. These types of shorter-form, competency-oriented programs can better fit corporate demands for targeted and applied learning.
Such non-degree credentials have been growing in popularity.
“We do have a little bit of a Wild West situation right now with alternative credentials,” said Alana Dunagan, a senior research fellow at the nonprofit Clayton Christensen Institute, which researches education innovation. The U.S. higher education system “doesn’t do a good job of separating the wheat from the chaff.”
Thousands of credentials classes aimed at improving specific skills have cropped up outside of traditional colleges. Some classes are boot camps, including those popular with computer coders. Others are even more narrowly focused, such as courses on factory automation and breastfeeding. Colleges and universities have responded by adding non-degree programs of their own.
some 4,000 colleges and other providers issue industry certifications, according to the Lumina Foundation, but fewer than one in 10 are reviewed by a regulatory body or accreditor.
That companies need trained employees is uncontested: More than three-quarters of U.S. manufacturers told the National Association of Manufacturers this year that they had trouble finding and keeping skilled workers.
Despite those hiring and retention concerns, industry appears reluctant to discuss the topic of policing new credentials. The National Association of Manufacturers declined to answer questions.
“If an organization wants to grant a badge, there’s nothing stopping them from doing that,” Richardson said. “It’s important for consumers to do their due diligence.”
Badging programs are rapidly gaining momentum in higher education – join us to learn how to get your badging efforts off the ground.
Key Considerations: Assessment of Competencies
During this session, you will learn how to ask the right questions and evaluate if badges are a good fit within your unique institutional context, including determining ROI on badging efforts. You’ll also learn how to assess the competencies behind digital badges.
Key Technology Considerations
This session will allow for greater understanding of Open Badges standards, the variety of technology software and platforms, and the portability of badges. We will also explore emerging trends in the digital badging space and discuss campus considerations.
Key Financial Considerations
During this hour, we will take a closer look at answering key financial questions surrounding badges:
What does the business model look like behind existing institutional badging initiatives?
Are these money-makers for an institution? Is there revenue potential?
Where does funding for these efforts come from?
Partnering with Industry
Badging can be a catalyst for partnerships between higher education and industry. In this session, you will have the opportunity to learn more about strategies for collaborating with industry in the development of badges and how badges align with employer expectations.
Branding and Marketing Badges
Now that we have a better idea of the “why” and “what” of badges, how do we market their value to external and internal stakeholders? You’ll see examples of how other institutions are designing and marketing their badges.
Alongside your peers and our expert instructors, you will have the opportunity to brainstorm ideas, get feedback, ask questions, and get answers.
Next Steps and the Road Ahead: Where Badging in Higher Ed is Going
Most institutions are getting into the badging game, and we’ll talk about the far-reaching considerations in the world of badging. We’ll use this time to engage in forward-thinking and discuss the future of badging and what future trends in badging might be.
and learn the strategies and processes that other institutions have used to develop digital badge initiatives and programs. You’ll learn the different ways that badges can add value to the learner experience, key considerations for developing badges, and how to effectively connect learners to industry.
Digital badges are receiving a growing amount of attention and are beginning to disrupt the norms of what it means to earn credit or be credentialed. Badges allow the sharing of evidence of skills and knowledge acquired through a wide range of life activity, at a granular level, and at a pace that keeps up with individuals who are always learning—even outside the classroom. As such, those not traditionally in the degree-granting realm—such as associations, online communities, and even employers—are now issuing “credit” for achievement they can uniquely recognize. At the same time, higher education institutions are rethinking the type and size of activities worthy of official recognition. From massive open online courses (MOOCs), service learning, faculty development, and campus events to new ways of structuring academic programs and courses or acknowledging granular or discrete skills and competencies these programs explore, there’s much for colleges and universities to consider in the wide open frontier called badging.
During this ELI course, participants will:
Explore core concepts that define digital badges, as well as the benefits and use in learning-related contexts
Understand the underlying technical aspects of digital badges and how they relate to each other and the broader landscape for each learner and issuing organization
Critically review and analyze examples of the adoption of digital credentials both inside and outside higher education
Identify and isolate specific programs, courses, or other campus or online activities that would be meaningfully supported and acknowledged with digital badges or credentials
Consider the benefit of each minted badge or system to the earner, issuer, and observer
Develop a badge constellation or taxonomy for their own project
Consider forms of assessment suitable for evaluating badge earning
Learn about design considerations around the visual aspects of badges
Create a badge-issuing plan
NOTE: Participants will be asked to complete assignments in between the course segments that support the learning objectives stated above and will receive feedback and constructive critique from course facilitators on how to improve and shape their work.
Jonathan Finkelstein is founder and CEO of Credly, creator of the Open Credit framework, and founder of the open source BadgeOS project. Together these platforms have enabled thousands of organizations to recognize, reward, and market skills and achievement. Previously, he was founder of LearningTimes and co-founder of HorizonLive (acquired by Blackboard), helping mission-driven organizations serve millions of learners through online programs and platforms. Finkelstein is author of Learning in Real Time (Wiley), contributing author to The Digital Museum, co-author of a report for the U.S. Department of Education on the potential for digital badges, and a frequent speaker on digital credentials, open badges, and the future of learning and workforce development. Recent speaking engagements have included programs at The White House, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Smithsonian, EDUCAUSE, IMS Global, Lumina Foundation, ASAE, and the Federal Reserve. Finkelstein is involved in several open standards initiatives, such as the IMS Global Learning Consortium, Badge Alliance, American Council on Education (ACE) Stackable Credentials Framework Advisory Group, and the Credential Registry. He graduated with honors from Harvard.
In addition to helping Credly clients design credential systems in formal and informal settings, Susan Manning comes from the teaching world. Presently she teaches for the University of Wisconsin at Stout, including courses in instructional design, universal design for learning, and the use of games for learning. Manning was recognized by the Sloan Consortium with the prestigious 2013 Excellence in Online Teaching Award. She has worked with a range of academic institutions to develop competency-based programs that integrate digital badges. Several of her publications specifically speak to digital badge systems; other work is centered on technology tools and online education.
EDUC-441 Mobile Learning InstructionalDesign
Repeatable for Credit: No
Mobile learning research, trends, instructionaldesign strategies for curriculum integration and professional development.
EDUC-452 Universal Design for Learning
Repeatable for Credit: No Instructionaldesign strategies that support a wide range of learner differences; create barrier-free learning by applying universal design concepts.
ELI Online Event | July 12, 2017 | Noon–4:00 p.m. (ET)
One in five colleges have issued digital badges, according to a recent survey.* Today, all kinds of organizations, from higher education institutions to professional associations to employers, are issuing digital microcredentials. Are you?
Only 2% of institutions have deployed digital microcredentials (including badging) institution-wide, but 29% are expanding or planning their use. —EDUCAUSE Strategic Technologies, 2019
p. 15 Increasing Demand for Digital Learning Experience and Instructional Design Expertise
A driving factor for mobile learning is the ownership of mobile devices, particularly the smartphone. In 2018, the Pew Research Center reported that 59% of adults globally own a smartphone, and research from the EDUCAUSE Center for Analysis and Research indicated that 95% of undergraduate students own smartphones. As mobile device ownership and usage have increased, mobile learning is no longer just focused on asynchronous interaction, content creation, and reference. More emphasis is emerging on content that is responsive instead of adaptive and on creating microlearning experiences that can sync across multiple devices and give learners the flexibility to learn on the device of their choice
p. 25 Mixed Reality
p. 36 Fail or Scale: AR and MR –
In 2016, the Horizon Expert Panel determined that augmented reality and virtual reality were two to three years from widespread adoption. By 2018, the notion of mixed reality was, at four to five years from adoption, even further out.
p. 38 Bryan Alexander: Gaming and Gamification (Fail or Scale)
While employers increasingly demand that new hires have college degrees, the transcripts supporting those hard-earned credentials are no longer the most informative tool students have to exhibit their skills.
An estimated 1 in 5 institutions issue digital badges, which can be posted to social media, stored on digital portfolios and displayed by other specially designed platforms. When clicked on, the badge lists a range of skills a student has demonstrated beyond grades.
“The reason they’re taking off in higher education is most employers are not getting the information they need about people emerging from higher ed, with previous tools we’ve been using,” says Jonathan Finkelstein, founder and CEO of the widely used badging platform Credly. “The degree itself doesn’t get to level of describing particular competencies.”
For instance, a Notre Dame student who goes on a trip to Ecuador to build bridges can earn a badge for mastering the calculations involved in the construction, says G. Alex Ambrose, associate program director of e-portfolio assessment at the Indiana university’s Kaneb Center for Teaching & Learning.
Students can be pretty certain when they have passed calculus or creative writing, but they don’t always recognize when they’ve excelled in demonstrating soft skills such as critical thinking, communication and work ethic, says MJ Bishop, director of the system’s William E. Kirwan Center for Academic Innovation.
Badges have been most popular in the school of education—including with student teachers who, in turn, have created badges for the elementary and secondary classrooms where they’ve apprenticed, says Anna Catterson, the university’s educational technology director.
The campus library is another badging hotspot. Students there have earned microcredentials for research, 3D printing and other skills. These badges are being shared on LinkedIn and other platforms to obtain internships and scholarships.
The university runs faculty training sessions on badging and has established a review process for when faculty submit ideas for microcredentials.
One pothole to avoid is trying to create a schoolwide badge that’s standardized across a wide range of courses or majors. This can force the involvement of committees that can bog down the process, so it’s better to start with skills within single courses, says Ambrose at Notre Dame.
When creating a badge, system faculty have to identify a business or industry interested in that credential.
Badges that have the backing of a college or university are more impressive to job recruiters than are completion certificates from skill-building websites like Lynda.com.
Students won’t be motivated to earn a badge that’s a stock blue ribbon downloaded off the internet. Many institutions put a lot work into the design, and this can include harnessing expertise from the marketing department and graphic designers