Assessment of Transversal Skills in STEM Project Partner Meeting in “virtual Belgium”

Assessment of Transversal Skills in STEM Project Partner Meeting in “virtual Belgium”

In a parallel universe, the Assessment of Transversal Skills in STEM project team would have been in beautiful Belgium this morning. Sadly however, in the ‘new normal’ international educational research and development project teams no longer converge on some European city for a few intense days of meetings and workshops. Instead we continued the work of the ATS STEM project yesterday online and will meet again over the next two weeks as part of a series of all partner meetings in “virtual Antwerp”. Although there is much to miss about the physical meetings, there are a lot of positives about the current format — such as, less travel time, reduced carbon footprint and negative impact on the climate, space for valuable reflection between meetings and, of course, most critically keeping each other safe.

Mark Brown of Dublin City University and John Hurley of H2 Learning kicked us off by outlining how we have responded to the feedback on the first year report of the project to the European Commission. The feedback to date has highlighted how we have responded to the Covid-19 crisis but also points ways forward for us to continue to help teachers use digital tools in STEM education.

Nilay Aral and Sonja Bracht from Danube Krems University, who lead the Quality Assurance project work package, presented on the critical aspect of risk assessment via a SWOT Analysis. Given the uncertain, changeable nature of the current educational environment this is a key concern of the project. Currently a traffic light system is being used to help indicate how we can work in schools according to the levels of openness in the countries involved. The Strengths of the project were highlighted – in particular the skills of the partners and conceptual framework that has been developed. The importance was re-emphasised of continuing to make our conceptual and practical tools developed visible, compressible and usable for teachers. Stand by for more on this topic.

Finally, Ida Maria Peltoma of Tampere University presented on the ongoing work of teacher professional development from the Tampere team in co-operation with Dublin City University. If you are a teacher interested in using digital tools for assessment of key STEM skills and you would like to get involved, we are currently recruiting participant schools across several countries, so please get in touch with us. For more information, please contact Eamon Costello, Project Lead, or see the ATS STEM project website

National Survey on Potential of Micro-credentials for Enhancing Employability and Access to Lifelong Learning

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.

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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.

MCs Evology

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.