Last week we were pleased to launch a new ECIU University white paper on the rapidly evolving micro-credential movement. This paper, ‘Paving the Road for the Micro-credential Movement’, follows close on the heels of a much anticipated report presenting a European approach to micro-credentials with a related roadmap published in December (Commission Consultation, 2020). A major contribution of this report is a common European definition and language for micro-credentials to address what is acknowledged as a global barrier to wider uptake.
Video of Launch Event
In April 2020, ECIU University published its first white paper on this topic which identified a number of guiding principles and emphasised the point that micro-credentials should be in the service of big ideas rather than being the big idea itself.
The latest white paper illustrates how the new ECIU University is one of these big ideas with its focus on developing an exciting new co-creation learning ecosystem that connects learners for life.
Micro-credentials are core to the 2030 Vision and concept of developing smart new learning pathways for learners across the ECIU University partners. An implementation roadmap with defined actions across a number of building blocks is also presented in the white paper.
The launch event anchored growing worldwide interest in micro-credentials in a number of competing and consisting drivers, including a trend which is emphasising skills over degrees and the need to urgently address an increasing skills gap due to ongoing digital disruption and the changing nature of work. A focus on developing and recognising transversal skills was also noted along with the global impact of MOOCs.
While Neoliberal critiques of the movement were noted the role of different interest groups with competing agenda was claimed to be precisely the reason why educators need to be in the driving seat. After all, one of the most important underlying drivers of the micro-credentialing movement is the need to develop new flexible pathways to address current low rates of life-long learning across Europe. Such pathways may be able to better support the pillars of life-long learning:
- Learning to be
- Learning to know
- Learning to do;
- Learning to live together
- Learning to transform
Moreover, the development of micro-credentials can potentially support more agile responses to new and emerging developments and growth areas, such as the European Green Deal and achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Over 300 participants from Europe, and beyond, participated in the virtual launch event, which included presentations from Vanessa Debiais-Sainton, Head of the Unit in charge of Higher Education Policies and Programme at the European Commission. Anthony Camilleri, Director at Knowledge Innovation Centre, Dr Henri Pirkkalainen from Tampere University and Professor Mark Brown.
In his keynote presentation, Mark shared news of a new online course, “Higher Education 4.0 – Certifying your Future” available later in February through the FutureLearn platform. This course, developed by a NIDL team to support the ECIU University initiative, explores the new skills agenda, the emergence of the micro-credentialing movement and new authentic pedagogies for new times. The course also draws on findings of a National Irish Survey on Micro-credentials that will be published shortly.
This forthcoming report and the latest ECIU University white paper can be found on the NIDL’s Micro-credential Observatory that is regularly updated to provide a comprehensive collection of policy and research initiatives in this burgeoning area.