Making Microcredentials Count

Golding, Tyrrell and Rossade, Klaus-Dieter (2022). Making Microcredentials Count. In: Innovating Higher Education Conference 2022, 19-21 Oct 2022, Athens.



The popularity of microcredentials across Europe is growing fast. They have the potential to become standard provision of learning for professional development or personal growth because they provide standalone chunks of learning that can deliver up to date knowledge and skills timely and flexibly. The ‘micro’ in the name addresses these benefits. The notion of credit in the ‘credential’ part of the name is less clear. The adoption of European-wide standards within a widely accepted framework for microcredentials helped to raise the currency of this learning opportunity independent of quality accredited learning providers such as universities.
How the credits from these microcredential can be brought back into traditional higher education is less developed – few institutions have found solutions for integrating microcredentials within their qualifications. This is not for lack of interest or trying. The Open University, United Kingdom (OUUK) established a microcredentials programme in 2019 with the aim to reach new and different learner populations in new curriculum areas as an alternative to the university’s standard 30 and 60 UK credits ‘core’ modules provision. The Faculty of Wellbeing Education and Language Studies (WELS) presented two of the first pilot microcredentials in 2020, including HZFM881 – Online Teaching: Creating Courses for Online Learners, a 15-credit postgraduate module, created in six weeks as a response to
the COVID-19 pandemic. WELS now have a portfolio of nine microcredentials, with a further nine in the pipeline.
What is less clear is how the development of microcredentials can become something that universities simply do alongside their core provision of module and qualifications. What quality assurance standards need to be in place that can assure the quality of the learning experience but that remains true to the ‘spirit’ of bite-size,
timely and innovative professional and personal learning. And finally, how can credits at undergraduate and postgraduate levels be integrated into existing qualifications? What would it take to offer a university degree, consisting entirely of microcredentials? The paper will address these questions and present the processes WELS and the OUUK put in place to make microcredentials ‘business as usual’, sometime in the future.

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