Last week, a NIDL research team launched the first National Survey seeking the views of employees, employers and other key Irish stakeholders on the current use and future potential of micro-credentials.
The National Survey was launched in partnership with five Skillnet networks: Aviation Skillnet, ICBE Advanced Productivity Skillnet, ICBE Business Excellence Skillnet, Galway Executive Skillnet and Taste4Success Skillnet. We are seeking to better understand how a strategic investment in micro-credentials in Ireland might be able to help address key skills gaps and be part of a national response to the rapidly changing nature of work, and growing recognition of the importance of supporting a culture of continuous professional development and lifelong learning, more generally.
Additionally, in the context of Covid-19 the development of quality assured, credit-bearing, online short courses leading to stackable micro-credentials may help to provide new career opportunities and play a valuable role in getting more people back to work.
Although the term “micro-credential” currently lacks a common definition globally, which is a problem the study is also exploring, they typically refer to units of assessed learning that are significantly smaller than traditional forms of accredited learning (such as diplomas or degrees). Under this definition, micro-credentials can be stacked into a degree, contribute to a degree, or stand alone, giving learners more flexibility and pathways into formal qualifications. Importantly, they differ from and have more currency than badges that may be issued for simply participating in a learning experience. In this respect, micro-credentials require formal assessment and the same quality assurance processes as existing credentials from trusted providers.
The findings from this survey will help inform work already underway at a European-level on developing a common definition, qualification framework and standardised platforms for recognising micro-credentials in the workplace, and beyond. Notably, micro-credentials are already a key action on the European Commission’s recently launched Skills Agenda for Europe. Last year, DCU contributed to the Common Micro-credential Framework developed by the European MOOC Consortium, and currently Professor Mark Brown is contributing to the European Commission’s Micro-credential Consultation Group.
DCU is also an active partner in the ECIU University initiative where a suite of micro-leaning experiences developed around a signature pedagogy of Challenged-based Education (CBE) may lead to formally recognised micro-credentials. Earlier in the year, the NIDL helped to develop an ECIU position statement on the future of micro-credentials in the European context.
As part of the current study the NIDL research team has already produced an Insights Report looking at current global trends and developments. We plan to share the findings of this report and the national Irish survey at an international event on micro-credentials that DCU will be hosting later in the year. In the meantime, if you live in Ireland, then we encourage you to contribute to this study by completing the survey. You can also find out more information about the NIDL’s work in this growing area, and DCU’s first credit-bearing, stackable, micro-credential launched in February 2020 in the area of FinTech through the FutureLearn platform, by visiting our Micro-credential Observatory.