Micro-credentials

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Micro-credentials are limited certifications regarding an individual's demonstration of possessing specific skills or knowledge. They are sometimes conferred as open or digital badges as opposed to a more traditional written diploma. In contrast with a post-secondary baccalaureate degree, which might require four years of study under a wide-ranging curriculum, a student might take a series of eight-week classes to receive a number of micro-credentials that certify them to be qualified in a set of job-specific data collection, analysis and visualization software programs. Micro-credentials are often promoted as a means to develop and recognize more granular, sub-degree knowledge and skills and to allow for a more flexible, individually-tailored education curriculum. In addition, micro-credentials may or may not be conferred by government chartered or accredited educational institutions.

CONCEPT


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Goals
Example

Adrienne is a marketing and communications professional who is interested in expanding her technical skills in graphic design. Employers in her industry have partnered with a local alternative education institution to offer micro-credentials in various graphic design techniques and software programs. Although this program is not formally recognized by her government, employers place value on the micro-credentials, and Adrienne decides to pay a smaller amount of tuition in order to receive them. In receiving her new micro-credentials, Adrienne takes on new work in her current job and receives a promotion and pay increase.

Tradeoffs

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Tradeoffs of implementing this policy may include:

  1. Over-specialization that decreases an individual's long-term job security and career flexibility
  2. Reduction in the amount of general knowledge (e.g., civics) acquired by citizens through education
  3. Potential for informal institutions to provide ineffective curricula if not regulated by government.
Compatibility Assessment

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If answered yes, the following questions indicate conditions under which the policy may be most effectively implemented:

  1. Is there a gap in the technical skills required by local or would-be local employers and the local population?
  2. Can the skills lacked by local residents be learned more cheaply and efficiently in short-term modules?
  3. Are there well-intentioned entities who possess the ability to educate local residents on these skills?
  4. Will employers value the micro-credentials as sufficient qualifications for employment?
Design

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The following questions should be considered when determining how to implement this policy:

  1. What role, if any, should government play in regulating private educational institutions providing micro-credentials?
  2. What role, if any, should government plan in encouraging public institutions to offer micro-credentials?
  3. What oversight or enforcement role will government take on to ensure that micro-credentials are administered in a manner that provides fair value to students?

ADOPTION


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PolicyGraphics
  • For area type(s): Urban. Micro-credentials are most applicable in urban environments, which tend to allow for greater specialization of labor.
Adopters
  • Limited. The offering of micro-credentials is limited to a small but growing number of education providers such as General Assembly, Dev Bootcamp, Hack Reactor and the Mozilla Foundation's Open Badges Initiative. They are generally unsanctioned but not prohibited by government. [1]
  • Post-Secondary. Currently, micro-credentials are most often offered for technical, specialized skills such as computer programming.

STAKEHOLDERS


Supporters

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Opponents

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  • Associations - Public Colleges and Universities. Assumption: Alternative providers who administer micro-credentials threaten the funding and educational model of the traditional, general education-steeped model of educational institutions.
  • Associations - Private Colleges and Universities. Assumption: Alternative providers who administer micro-credentials threaten the funding and educational model of the traditional, general education-steeped model of educational institutions.
  • Associations - Religion-Affiliated Colleges and Universities. Assumption: Alternative providers who administer micro-credentials threaten the funding and educational model of the traditional, general education-steeped model of educational institutions.
  • Associations - University Athletics. Assumption: Alternative providers who administer micro-credentials threaten the funding and educational model of the traditional, general education-steeped model of educational institutions, which are more likely to offer athletics programs.

REFERENCES


Research

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Resources

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Footnotes
  1. "A New Credential for the Tech Industry." Kamanetz, Anya. nprEd Blog. October 15, 2014. http://www.npr.org/blogs/ed/2014/10/15/356199691/a-new-credential-for-the-tech-industry
  2. "Digital Badges at the Agricultural Sustainability Institute." The Wheel: The Instructional Technology Blog of ATS at UC Davis. November 27, 2013. http://wheel.ucdavis.edu/2013/11/digital-badges-at-the-agricultural-sustainability-institute/
  3. Purdue University Passport Program Website. http://www.itap.purdue.edu/studio/passport/
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