Call for Papers on Micro-credentials and the Next New Normal

Is the micro-credential the next big thing? The micro-credentialing movement is gaining momentum around the world as more governments, universities and professional organisations respond to powerful change forces of Industry 4.0 along with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

But is the magic of the micro-credential fairy dust or star dust? Is the micro-credential just the latest educational fad in a long list of failed learning innovations over many years?

These are some of the provocative questions that we will be exploring in Higher Education 4.0: Certifying Your Future, our forthcoming online masterclass available through the FutureLearning platform. We are looking forward to some lively online debates over the next few weeks. Make sure you register for this course.

Google Trend data for the microcredential

We are also pleased to announce a special issue of the International Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education will publish a collection of papers which critically and analytically focus on micro-credentials as the “next new normal” for digitally-enhanced learning in higher education ecosystems.  Micro-credentials are purported to offer more flexible, digitally-enabled, learner-focused, and wide-reaching education and training opportunities for learners. Whilst the emergence, adoption, regulation, and impact of micro-credentials and other forms of digital credentials present a number of opportunities, they also raise important questions and challenges for all stakeholders (i.e. learners, employers, educational institutions, and government and professional bodies).

Topics in this special issue include, but are not limited to: 

  • Institutional and national credentialing processes
  • Strategies, governance and policies
  • Credential ecology, quality assurance and recognition frameworks
  • Co-construction of micro-credentials, employability, lifelong and lifewide learning
  • Transversal skill
  • Neoliberal ideologies
  • Academic trajectories
  • Value propositions of micro-credentials

As part of the NIDL’s commitment to open science, open scholarship and open education we greatly value our role as a formal editorial partner in this Springer published journal, which has developed a strong following and reputation for quality in recent years. Indeed, the International Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education is now officially the No 1 Scopus ranked open access publication in the field.

You can read more about this special issue and how to submit a manuscript on the journal website.

Submission deadline: 31 July 2021

Guest Editors: Beverley Oliver, Mark Brown, Mairéad Nic Giolla Mhichíl

Masterclass starts March 8th 2021

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Higher Education 4.0: Exploring Big Questions to Shape the Future

What is your vision of Higher Education by the year 2030? What are the big questions we need to be thinking about in shaping the post-pandemic world for Higher Education? What are the major challenges and opportunities facing universities over the next decade? Who will get to shape the future environment and whose voice is missing from efforts to reimagine Higher Education in response to Industry 4.0?

Our new online masterclass starting on March 8th explores these questions and more. In Higher Education 4:0: Certifying Your Future we take a closer look at the future skills agenda, the rise and the rise of the micro-credentialing movement, and how we can harness new pedagogies for new times.

The masterclass offered over 3-weeks through the FutureLearn platform begins by establishing why universities and other educational stakeholders need to engage with the future skills agenda.

We explore the future of work along with the increasing focus on transversal skills, and in doing so attempt to answer a number of key questions: 

  • What are future skills?
  • Why are they important?
  • How can they be measured? 
World Economic Forum, 2020

In Week 2, we look at the new possibilities and challenges micro-credentials offer for certifying the future.

This rapidly evolving approach to accredited learning and continuing professional development has the potential to redefine Higher Education and the traditional credential ecology, which arguably is a legacy of the 20th Century that may no longer be fit for purpose.

We will explore a number of the different micro-credentialing initiatives around the globe profiled in the Micro-Credential Observatory, including a recent ECIU white paper and the European Commission’s groundbreaking work in this area, and in doing so try to answer several key questions:

  • What are micro-credentials? 
  • Why the growing focus on them?
  • Are they just another passing educational fad?
European Commission, 2020

In Week 3, we explore how the future skills agenda and micro-credentialing movement may be able to support new authentic forms of pedagogy that help to develop more active citizens, lifelong learners, and innovative work-ready graduates. More specifically, we discuss the value and transformative potential of new approaches such as Sprints, Hackathons and Challenge-Based Learning (CBL) and how they can be intentionally designed to harness the pedagogical affordances of new digital technologies. We will share a number of case studies, including how CBL is being adopted by the new ECIU University as a “signature pedagogy” to support more impactful and real-life learning; and in doing so endeavour to answer a number of key questions: 

  • What are authentic pedagogies?
  • What do we already know about learning?
  • How will Higher Education 4.0 impact future pedagogy?

We have been told for over a decade that today’s universities and colleges are at risk of preparing a new generation of students for jobs that don’t yet exist, using old fashioned teaching methods, and out of date technologies.

This free online masterclass, supported by and developed under the umbrella of the new ECIU University initiative, gives you the opportunity to debunk, challenge and/or add your own perspective to some of the current debates about the future of Higher Education.

We hope to raise your critical awareness of major change forces influencing the future, and provide useful examples of how different institutions and/or organisations are responding to the new global Higher Education environment. Participants can engage in a number of ways. Some people may wish to work through each topic on their own at their own pace, or alternatively as part of a group of educators from their own institution. Keep in mind that FutureLearn is a social learning platform and so the masterclass is designed to promote your active participation.

Our NIDL team at Dublin City University (DCU) will be facilitating your learning over the 3-weeks but we don’t have all the answers. Accordingly, the masterclass endeavours to be highly interactive throughout each week as we “open the floor” to your contributions.

We hope you can carve out some time in your busy calendar in March to contribute to Higher Education 4.0 as we discuss some of these big issues. You can learn more about the topics we cover and register for the masterclass on the FutureLearn website. We hope to see many of you online!