All Roads Leading to Micro-credentials: Latest ECIU University White Paper

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. 

Latest ICDE World Conference Newsletter

Our latest newsletter for the ICDE World Conference on Online Learning in November profiles the keynote address by Professor Beverley Oliver on the emergence of micro-credentials in higher education set against the wider backdrop of graduate employability, life-long learning and new and emerging online learning models.

WCOL Newsletter Banner.jpg

prof-beverley-oliver_2.jpgIn 2018, ICDE published a report on The Present and Future of Alternative Digital Credentials and this presentation will build on and help extend the discussion. Professor Oliver, formerly Deputy Vice-Chancellor Education (2013-2018) at Deakin University in Australia, recently published a new report on Making Micro-credentials Work for Learners, Employers and ProvidersIn this new report, which we strongly encourage delegates to read before the World Conference, Beverley argues that Micro-credentials and other forms of non-formal learning are emerging as potential solutions to the rapidly changing nature of work and up-skilling needs that will be required in the future. However, the report argues that a more strategic and coherent approach is needed which aligns with both national and international qualification frameworks.

OERu Course.png

In other news we report that thanks to the OER Foundation we are able to offer a special cohort instance of the micro-course “Open Education, Copyright and Open Licensing in a Digital World” for free to all ICDE World Conference registered participants. We have partnered with the OERu to provide free and unrestricted access to this online course, which begins on October 7th, with Dr Wayne Mackintosh, UNESCO/ICDE Chair in Open Educational Resources (OER) facilitating the discussion over two-weeks. Registered ICDE WCOL2019 participants will also receive a free access code to take an online competency test to earn the Certificate of Competency in Copyright and Creative Commons Licensing. More information and registration details is available on the course website.

IITDUB - TW-LI Announce2.png

We are also delighted to share news of a special post-conference event that has been organised in partnership with the US-based Training Magazine. Innovations in Training (IIT) Dublin features visits to cutting-edge simulation labs, innovation centres and training sites, along with in-depth conversations and immersive experiences that demonstrate innovative approaches to workplace learning. This event is essentially a three-day Dublin field trip for learning and development professionals who want to experience innovative ways to push beyond traditional approaches to workplace learning. Site visits include IBM Research Ireland, the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, and Ernst & Young Dublin. More information is available on the ITT Dublin website.

The full newsletter is available from the ICDE World Conference website and you can subscribe to receive future issues by signing up to bi-monthly ICDE news service.