I’m seeking feedback from all you awesome people in your various recognition communities as I update the badge taxonomy that Learning Agents uses for its various consulting projects in Canada and internationally, and for support of clients using the CanCred.ca badging platform. Also, wearing my Advocate hat, it has supported my rants about opening up recognition, regardless of platform. So, tactical and strategic utility for me, wearing my various hats, and for others too – at least so they’ve they’ve politely said to me (many are Canadian, after all.)
Thoughts – clarification or complication? Flexible and inclusive, or complex and rickety?Feedback welcome, whether on my blog or on LinkedIn. Help me make this better!
Significant updates to the Learning Agents taxonomy
Creating a new type, Performance, based on recent work by Chris Newlon of TeamDemocracy.org (see below) and my increasing interest in 70:20:10 model for development that shifts the focus from training to performance
Merging Completion and Participation into (unassessed) Organized Learning, also inspired by Chris’ work above
Renaming Demonstration to Evidence and Demonstration
Forking the Assessment “frontier” to indicate that both Evidence & Demonstration and the new Performance category could be assessed or not assessed, depending on fitness for context
Hinting at a new category of badge types for Teams and Organizations, thanks to Stella Porto of Inter-American Development Bank from our work together last year
The trigger for this new version is some exciting credentialing work that’s getting underway for adult learning in French Canada, not only in Québec, but supporting lifelong learning and skills development in minority francophone communities across the country.
I’m helping several of these organizations get started with badges for adult learners and for the professional community that serves them. Some early badges I’m designing are for a project for family learning in in Manitoba, and an upcoming National Summit on Learning for Canada’s Francophonie, which is sponsored by the Canadian Commission for UNESCO. One of the stated objectives of the Summit is (my translation, with the help of DeepL):
A collaborative digital badge accreditation system for non-formal and informal learning recognized by formal institutions, community development organizations and workplaces – a tool developed BY and FOR Canada’s Francophone minority communities.
Translated from RESDAC.NET
The badge taxonomy has gone through quite a few iterations, probably beginning with HPass.org back in 2017. I’d say the most significant version so far was for the IDB Digital Credential Framework in early 2023 that I co-created with Stella Porto:
…. which I adapted to the more generic one that I’m updating now. This taxonomy feeds into the badge templates that we provide for CanCred customers and consulting clients. They’re models for well-constructed badges that fit into the taxonomy, which people can use as a starting point, instead of being confronted with a blank canvas. Or I guess ChatGPT, these days.
Anyway, I’ve been madly translating those badge templates into French (with the help of real human French speakers), and it’s been a chance to re-examine the Learning Agents taxonomy.
I mentioned above that a recent influence has been the great work that Chris Newlon of TeamDemocracy.org has been doing in adapting the IDB/Learning Agents taxonomies for their prototype Civics Credentialing System, designed to help achieve their multi-organizational mission of rallying all Americans to a shared identity, and a shared commitment to democracy. So Civics Credentialing is not just about assessed learning and certification, but also engagement, commitment, action and community recognition. Here’s how I shared their draft taxonomy at a recent career conference in Ottawa:
Another influence, also mentioned above is 70:20:10, which I’ve used before in my frequent rants about micro-credentials as old-school training certificates in new digital clothing.
By the way, I’m trying out this new riddle about micro-credentials:
Q: What is a micro-credential? A: Whatever the funder says it is.
Anyway, all feedback welcome, even about micro-credentials (notice that I do include them…) before I republish the new version of the taxonomy and update the badge templates.
ANSWER: probably not qualified as teachers, but possibly competent to teach, i.e. to do more than provide knowledge dumps from their domains of expertise, depending on their attitudes toward teaching and their experiences with professional education and lifewide learning.
Apologies for the clickbait title, but I hope to use this post to make some points about qualifications, knowledge, competency and performance, with a few swipes at micro-credentials as the self-elected gold standard for competency.
Yes, post-secondary faculty can be relied on to have a Masters degree or better, but that’s typically in their subject domain, right? Not many have degrees in education, although some do. If they do, I’d argue that those degrees aren’t typically designed as professional preparation, like you see for student teachers at the K12 level.
And in terms of advancing academic careers, we do often hear that research achievements are valued more than demonstrated teaching skills, don’t we?
In the Canadian college system there IS more attention paid to pedagogy (many colleges even use the word “andragogy”), partly because colleges often recruit from industry and must quickly bring them up to speed. I still have my RRC Poly Train the Trainer binder from 2000 for example, where I first learned about the DACUM process. But my learning outcomes were not “rigorously assessed”, so who knows what damage I did…
Most students across PSE are still taught by faculty who are not officially qualified to, well… teach. Compare this to K12, where the provincial College of Teachers has very specific requirements for certification, including workplace performance.
So why do we respect post-secondary education? You do hear stories about fossilized professors, overflowing lecture halls and obsolete curriculum, but by and large (at least here in Canada), most PSE does not suck. Why is that?
I’m suggesting three reasons here, and I’d be happy to hear other people’s ideas on them:
Professional practices : within departments and faculties and in the broader professional community with colleagues across institutions (i.e. self respect, mentoring, and support from superiors and peers)
Institutional practices: internal QA, professional programs, direct ID support for faculty from internal T&L centres, encouraging excellence generally and protecting the brand, locally and virtually)
External accreditation: the big stick – you don’t want to lose your accreditation, especially as a professional “school”. (But bear in mind that an accreditation process can be little more than a multi-annual bureaucratic “tick box” chore, with your more embarrassing fossils and departmental processes safely locked away from view. And rest assured, few in industry actually comprehend what your accreditation really means. They’re more concerned about high level perceptions of your brand and personal experience with your graduates.)
So, how do post-secondary faculty learn how to teach, and to teach better? Here’s another list:
White collar apprenticeship: Coming up through the ranks as students, Teaching Assistants, etc. This can include mentoring, but also flying by the seat of your pants (social learning, experiential learning…)
Induction and onboarding training courses, such as my Train the Trainer course at Red River Poly (nonformal learning)
Professional education, perhaps offered out of the institution’s Teaching and Learning Centre, or from third parties such as eCampusOntario (also nonformal learning)
Community of practice: interacting with colleagues inside and outside the institution, online and IRL
Personal learning: Experience, reflection, reading, writing, etc.
So, no credits, no qualifications. Some of this learning is structured, maybe including micro-credential courses and program certificates (like eCampusOntario’s Ontario Extend), but that’s pretty recent… a lot of the learning is just social and experiential. Lifewide. In the wild. Hanging out. In the flow of work.
Isn’t it ironic, amid all the pious talk about skills and the need for rigour and quality assurance in skills development systems and micro-credential programs, that we have so few rigorous programs in place to ensure the skills of post-secondary educators, who are developing so many of those micro-credentials? Is academic freedom that powerful, that all we can have is encouragement for the “scholarship of teaching and learning” and “centres of excellence” and professional education, avoiding the word “development”, as being too directive?
Let me be clear: I’m not saying there should be mandatory professional development programs for PSE educators. What I am saying is what my mother used to say: “What’s sauce for the goose should be sauce for the gander.” What works for engaged PSE educators should be applicable to others.
Why can’t we come up with better ways to recognize learning where it happens… for PSE faculty and everybody else? Why is a training course the first and often ONLY thing that educators can think of when it comes to skills development?
Cue a stop-motion version of my 70:20:10 video homage to Monty Python (click to expand):
And why is the focus always on individual skills, instead of team performance or organisational effectiveness? What if you do actually learn that new skill but you’re blocked from applying in back in the workplace due to obsolete business processes and a crappy workplace culture? Organisations have to learn and change too, not just individuals.
I love this matrix below that 70:20:10 guru Charles Jennings recently pointed me to. He helped develop advise on it for the Australian Public Service Academy. It’s based on research that shows that learning is most effective when closest to its application: “learning in the flow of work”(*) is the ideal, and so are multiple opportunities to apply that new learning in your context in order to change your ongoing behaviours. That’s why this graphic maps learning experiences in terms of frequency and distance from work.
(*SIDENOTE: Beverley Oliver called this “Learning Integrated Work” when I interviewed her about the 2021 UNESCO report on micro-credentials, deep-linked here. So it is possible to contemplate this stuff from inside PSE. I miss her voice in this community.)
Charles would shift a few things in what they produced here, and so would I, but do you see where they’ve put micro-credentials? (arrow is mine). Looks like Pluto way out there… (click to expand the graphic – makes Pluto seem a little bigger…)
Heh, poor Pluto. I might not have been quite so cruel; I am Canadian, and we’re usually more subtle with our cruelty. There ARE some great examples of authentically applied learning in micro-credentials, but not THAT many. (See that? A open face Canadian feedback sandwich.)
I’m becoming more and more excited about the convergence of 70:20:10 learning and performance with open recognition, similar to how Serge Ravet is currently cross-mapping Wenger’s community of practice concepts with open recognition – you can actually see Communities of Practice explicitly displayed above. So we’re really discussing different aspects of the same elephant in the room. I connected with Charles Jennings this week after the 2023 Institute for Performance and Learning(*) conference in Toronto, and I’m now working my way through the 2016 book he co-authored with Jos Arets and Vivian Hiejnen, entitled “702010: towards 100% performance”. Here’s a quick framing quote:
(*SIDENOTE: It’s interesting to me that I encountered Charles and 70:20:10 at a conference for Canada’s workplace L&D professionals, which DOES have a certification program but which also recognizes the shortcomings of formal training and education, as exemplified in their 2015 rebranding from the Canadian Society for Training and Development to the Institute for Performance and Learning, to better foster solutions “that engage, enable and inspire adults to perform at their best and make the organizations where they work more successful, innovative and productive.”)
For my part, I want to help counter what Dominic Orr called out on LinkedIn after the recent ICDE Global conference in Costa Rica:
Recently, I’ve been sharing a “populated” version of the inclusive spectrum of recognition, I earlier shared at CAUCE, as below, with badge ideas to get people’s creative juices flowing:
I’ve also tried mapping some of these to Serge’s Plane of Recognition in the current version of CanCred’s Badge Canvas:
And I want to share an awesome badge on assessment that I earned from some exemplary educators connected with the Commonwealth of Learning:
Reflector – Digital Assessment
Commonwealth of Learning
I wouldn’t call this a micro-credential badge, although my badge application was lightly assessed. More important, it’s a learning capsule, containing the content and my reflections on the content, which I can refer back to, at any time. And I have, particularly the session with James Skidmore, for its wide-ranging scope and really useful references. Portable learning, that I can use at time of need.
In the near future, I hope to collaborate with Charles and Serge Ravet on a discussion paper to encourage educators, L&D professionals AND LEARNERS to get beyond knee jerk responses to skills development and to stop leaving so much valuable recognition of skills and performance on the lifewide learning table.
Yes, it’s easier for funders and educators to generate automated courses on electric cars and AI ethics and then count the number of beans completions as an output. But it’s not very agile and ultimately doesn’t speak to levels 3, 4 and 5 in the Kirkpatrick/Phillips model below, does it?
Doesn’t it make more sense to encourage and track learning at what Charles Jennings calls the “coal face”? Messier, yes. Harder to assess and track, yes. But that’s where the value gets mined.
In future posts, I hope to talk more about sustainable ways to mine that value.
Thanks to Noah Geisel for sharing a version of this RAND/UMichigan report the other week:
It’s helped me understand a little better why so many academics keep talking about stacking badges into undergraduate degrees, which I’ve always thought was a very problematic use case for badges, given all the complexities of articulation, transfer and program mapping, even across departments within an institution, much less across institutions.
I usually encourage people to think about how to showcase, enhance, extend and refresh diplomas and degrees with additional learning that can be stacked for credit and/or industry recognition, or “embedded learning” extracted from longer academic programs (e.g. science or technology skills that will “pop out” in a résumé). I’ve always felt that stacking for industry recognition or even for post-grad certificates would be easier than for undergraduate degrees.
But the title of the report caught my eye, along with this quote:
Earnings gaps shrunk when low-income individuals earned certificates (shorter-term occupational credentials) and then went on to earn degrees.
Who wouldn’t want that? Could I have been wrong (gasp!) in advising people away from stacking credit-based badges into degrees?
But then I read further, and learned more: the history of stackable credentials provides a coeval context for why Open Badges have been so often framed as stackable micro-credentials when that’s just one thing they could do, i.e. act as a digital containers for certificates of various types and sizes – note the dates:
“States and institutions across the United States are pursuing initiatives that support the design of stackable credentials, defined by the U.S. Department of Labor as a “sequence of credentials that can be accumulated over time to build up an individual’s qualifications and help that individual move along a career pathway to further education and different responsibilities, and potentially higher-paying jobs” (Employment and Training Administration, 2010, p. 6). … “Stackable credentials have been growing in popularity since the mid-2000s and are an important focus of many state and institutional initiatives to strengthen applied programs in fields such as health care, IT, and advanced manufacturing. These programs aim to open more pathways into and through postsecondary education for historically underserved populations, including low-income individuals.”
So, educators in the US in the mid-2000s, before Open Badges were invented, were already speculating and experimenting with better ways to help low-income learners advance their education incrementally, by moving from technical college certificates into community college diplomas and maybe even into undergraduate degrees. That’s laudable.
Then along come Open Badges in 2011.. how convenient for stackable certificates! And then, well, blockchain of course, because every single component of that stacked credential now HAS to be authenticated, right?
But how limiting for Open Badges, as all the reusable recognition oxygen gets sucked from the landscape of recognition:
… and gets pumped into “modular diplomas”, with all the gnarly baggage of credit articulation, transfer and program recognition, now at a micro level like mismatched Lego bricks across programs and institutions, along with new vocabulary such as “horizontal” and “vertical” and “lattice” to further complicate and confuse. Speaking of which: is a digital badge not good enough to be a micro-credential, or just not big enough? Asking for a friend…
I submit to you that there’s a big differencebetween stacking a 6-month program certificate into a 1-year certificate into a 2-year diploma into a 4-year degree… (which is what RAND and UMichigan are mostly tracking in their report – very little mention of badges) and trying to do all that with credential units that can go down to a 1-hour micro-credential in Australia, for example. It’s a lot easier to stack credits or 30 or 60 at a time than 1 or 3 or 6 at a time.
I actually support badge stacking, but smaller stacks and clusters, and well beyond academic programs: industry-facing “employment ready” stacks, for example, that can combine knowledge, application, reflection and field experience. Here’s one from Excellence in Manufacturing, for example:
I’d love to see a follow-up to this RAND report, one that interviews not just academic leaders, but also students about why they made their stacking choices (or not) and also asks employers how they rate the importance of stacked credit to their skills needs. Industry research interviews I was involved in with employers in 2021/2022 indicates that employers and industry bodies are far more conscious of the brand and reputation of educators as a signal of quality than they they are in complex discussions of credit and accreditation, and they’re understandably less concerned about macro-credentials than are institutions.
I like to saythat:
Open Badges > Micro-credentials > Digital Certificates
In other words, Open Badges can recognize and enable lots of things, which is both a blessing and a curse for the flexible credentialing standard. Focusing on credit-based micro-credentials stacking into academic macro-credentials like diplomas and degrees can be a big distraction from other important value that micro-credentials can provide, such as contextual authenticity, industry relevance and demonstration of competency.
… not to mention the social recognition value and community connection that can come from less formal types of badges that are not assessed for credit…
Recently I saw one of the worst examples of a micro-credential badge in Canada that I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen lots of micro-credentials – not all bad mind you, despite my own reservations about micro-credentials as a credentialing monoculture.
When I responded to the invitation from someone on LinkedIn to “View my verified credential“, here’s what I found. In the LinkedIn post, I saw:
Impressive logos: the prominent PSE institution’s logo, the institution’s business school logo, even the prominent client’s logo (A bit noisy, but OK..)
A badge title that linked leadership to emotional intelligence. (Promising…)
A big label saying something equivalent to “Fundamentals”. (So nothing too onerous, but there’s lots of room for different types of learning.)
Viewing the hosted credential on the badge platform, I found:
An Open Badge that was indeed verifiable Open Badges is the technology standard behind most micro-credentials
A couple of visual labels saying “Learning” and “Fundamentals”, with no links or any other context
Three short “skills” terms Originally harvested from job ads, two of these were defined automatically from Wikipedia (unattributed), one was undefined. They’re linked to Labour Market Information (US-based by default, but customizable). These are usually provided as prompts for badge creators to pump up the value of their badges by linking them to “real jobs”. Practically speaking they’re usually more useful for technical skills than soft skills like leadership and EQ, largely because of that definition problem, but also the difficulty of assessing soft skills equitably.
Description: (what does this badge say about its holder): Something pasted from the course description about “designed to help [WRONG ClientCompanyName] managers “gain insight” into..(how they relate to EQ as leaders).” Wrong. Company. Name. Has anyone else noticed this yet?
Criteria (i.e. what does it take to earn this badge): the “beating heart” of the badge: “Completed [RIGHT ClientCompanyName]:[CourseName]” One sentence? That’s all? What were the topics? The learning activities? Was it 1 hour or 3 days? What were the outcomes? Were those outcomes assessed? What evidence of application? What does all this add up to?
From the rear, a partially open clinical gown, like you might see walking behind a patient in a hospital corridor (no link provided!)
Now try and get that image out of your mind. So far, I haven’t succeeded.
This is a good example of why it’s important to think beyond pretty looking badges with fancy logos, superficial titles and undefined skills terms and really take on board the key message that “there’s data inside” these things:
What if people (say, employers) actually look inside your badge to evaluate your skills and learning data? What are they going to think? Dan Hickey, an early thought leader in the open badges space, liked to say that employers and other “consumers” of badges would “drill, drill, drill” the first time seeing a provider’s badge, then just “drill” the next time, to confirm their first experience, then for further badges maybe not drill at all, after familiarity and trust have been established.
But how much trust do you think has been built by the badge I described above? More to the point: how much damage has been done to the brands of the organizations involved?
Maybe this was a good course, great even, but how would we know? The poor quality of the credential is definitely not a good sign. A badge is a chance to tell an authentic story about learning and achievement. This was not much more than an empty headline.
This is NOT about badging platforms – they all do 80-90% what each other do, and mostly compete in other ways. This really comes down to the organizations involved. The issuer organization didn’t care enough to do more than copy and paste from an old badge without checking their work. The client organization didn’t care enough to complain. The person who shared the credential probably doesn’t really care – she’s likely close to retirement and no longer so concerned about career advancement. But a younger, hungrier colleague looking to become a leader would care. Would they proudly share this badge?
This is also NOT about micro-credentials versus digital badges. I bet the issuer would claim that this is a micro-credential, despite the lack of information about assessment. It’s just not a good micro-credential. (I’d probably call it a Participation or Completion badge, but that’s for a later post.)
This is really about managing expectations and building trust in your credentials using:
A transparent framework that declares your values, states your purpose and describes how you will achieve and maintain your purpose
A clear taxonomy of the different types of credentials that your framework covers (HINT: more than micro-credentials vs “digital badges”)
Solid information requirements for each type of credential in your taxonomy, whether it be formal, non-formal or informal, that are fit for purpose. Not all badges are micro-credentials, but the ones that ARE should meet expectations for that type
Delivering on the above in a demonstrable way
Improving on the above over time
You don’t need to wait for the final definition of micro-credentials to come down from Olympus before you start to take a more structured approach to your own credentialing efforts. Heck, Canada still doesn’t have a national qualifications framework.
And you don’t have to have it ALL figured out before you start. It’s OK to have something that’s at least better and more responsive than what was there before, even if it’s not yet perfect. It’s OK to learn, change and grow, just like our lifelong learners do, because we are all lifelong learners and change is constant. But let’s be clear about what we’re trying to do and how we’re doing it.
In a later post, I’ll go into more detail about frameworks, taxonomies and “Critical Information Summaries“, based on some recent research consultations and implementations I’ve been working on, but I’ll save that for a later post. This one is long enough!
Part of “Scenes from a MOOC” – excerpts from an orphaned video-centric MOOC about micro-credentials based on Open Badges (as most are..)
I often say to people that stacking micro-credentials is one of those things that sound great, but can come with unwanted baggage, can lead to unintended consequences and generally complicate things that were supposed to be simple.
Stacking for what?
l’ll start the discussion with this useful diagram from Brown et al in the Journal of Learning for Development (J4LD). The authors developed a model for a credential ecology that I’ve fiddled with a bit, leaning on the CC BY licence.
The diagram maps different kinds of credentials across 2 axes:
The vertical axis is about formality, or credit versus non-credit.
The horizontal axis is about credential “bundling”, or aggregation
In the top two quadrants related to credit, diplomas and degrees are called macro-credentials that can be stacked from individual micro-credentials. I’ve added the notion of “meso-credentials” of intermediate sizes in the centre. The bottom two quadrants are focused on industry recognition. The terms provided by the authors aren’t widely used – I’ll just call these non-credit micro-credentials
A new element added by the research team is the concept of transforming non-credit to credit via the Recognition of Prior Learning or RPL. This is what they call the “diagonal axis” and I’ve added diagonal yellow arrows to illustrate. RPL is normally done at the institutional level, based on internal policies, using evidence portfolios and other methods of assessment. Within the institution, it’s usually possible to carry forward the valuation of an external nonformal credential, in the same way that an external academic credit only needs to be evaluated once for credit transfer. There are some initiatives in early development in Canada, Australia and perhaps elsewhere, to build this into a more system-wide approach, using terminology such as “”external credit bank” or “micro-credentials marketplace.”
Horizontal and vertical stacking
Stacking of micro-credentials is often described as vertical or horizontal. Vertical stacking, also called laddering, usually means that one credential builds on top of another, leveling up as in this Python example. However, leveling up within a skill is not as common as the notion of sequential pathways.
Sequential or linear pathways are programs of learning that have been pre-designed with micro-credentials as signposts on the way. They might include a range of topics and activities, but everything been built into a program plan.
Horizontal stacking is defined as broadening knowledge across multiple topics at a similar level, or perhaps specializations within a topic area. In this example, a creative technology skillset is being broadened with operational and business skills. Horizontal stacking is usually more learner centric than vertical stacking: educators and often learners can swap elements in and out to build more custom solutions.
This very popular and useful image from Bryan Mathers is another take on the various kinds of stacking and pathways:
The Stepping Stones model is the one I was just describing: sequential pathways, or linear progressions. They are prescriptive, programmed in advance. This is often the default for an instructional designer. It might be a certificate program in Continuing Education, for example. But this doesn’t have to be the only model.
The Collection model is still prescriptive, but the order doesn’t matter: program requirements are met once enough micro-credentials have been earned, or “collected”. Collections can actually be more flexible than than the preset pie form you see here: think of a honeycomb or a small, multi-cell organism that can add horizontal options organically.
The Constellation is a very popular metaphor that is non-linear AND descriptive. As Rebecca Solnit says:
“The stars we are given. The constellations we make. That is to say, stars exist in the cosmos, but constellations are the imaginary lines we draw between them, the readings we give the sky, the stories we tell.”
So a constellation is human construct: it’s a way of finding patterns, connections and stories among a scattering of stars or a collection of skills and achievements.A constellation can be a way of looking back and making sense of what you’ve already done, as in a portfolio for the Recognition of Prior Learning.Or it can be a way of looking forward at what you might do next, based on what you’ve already done, as in a smart learning ecosystem. This is the most learner-centric and even learner empowered model for pathways.
Dreaming big about stacking
The words horizontal and vertical imply a grid, where the horizontal axis could express the breadth of topics and the vertical axis could express the levels of learning:
I’ve actually provided two vertical axes here. The one on the left displays education qualification levels. Over on the right, I’ve added a popular model for leveling up skills in the context of work that’s mentioned in the Australian National Microcredentials Framework.
As an educator, if your thinking naturally leans toward stacking micro-credentials for credit, then it can be exciting to imagine modular educational pathways for Bachelors degrees for example, where students could complete programs in bite-sized chunks, stepping on and stepping off the “qualifications trolley”, and being recognized for even partial completion of larger qualifications.
Some initiatives are even exploring the feasibility of supporting “build-your-own degrees”, where lifelong learners of all kinds would be able to custom assemble credentials from multiple institutions, based on a common currency for micro-credentials. So in theory, the modularization of credentialing through micro-credentials could take the practice of Credit Articulation and Transfer to an entirely new level.
In practice, we’re not there yet, and it can be very difficult to innovate at the core of established credentialing systems, where the stakes are very high and practices are firmly established. Some objections that have been raised for this vision of stacking credits include:
Lack of awareness and trust between institutions. Micro-credentials do not magically remove structural and cultural barriers to mobility.
Most academic macro-credentials are not “build your own degree”, they are built on specific programs of study, usually within a single institution. A micro-credential may be worth x credits, but only if it can be applied to a program. There are actually very good reasons for having integrated programs that describe a learning arc.
And finally, academic stacking doesn’t solve the problem that micro-credentials were invented to solve, which is to provide more agile and authentic ways to develop and recognize skills. A focus on credit slows things down, comes with baggage and pushes us back to old ways of thinking. And Employers usually say they’re not interested in the credit value of micro-credentials, they are interested in their practical value in the workplace. From an employer perspective, credit may be nothing more than a proxy for quality, that can also be delivered by institutional brand.
Let’s remember that Open Badges were originally invented to recognize and share learning and achievement everywhere. Micro-credentials have emerged as a more formal subset of Open Badges, focused on agile education for workplace skills. But the idea was to supplement, enhance and fill gaps in formal learning, not to replace the entire damn system.
Institutions don’t need to totally reinvent themselves to start reaping the benefits from micro-credentials: innovation can begin at the edges, in Continuing Education, Extension programs, Adult Education, even in Contract Training. Value and quality can be balanced with agility by a “credit ready” approach, where micro-credentials are developed and documented according to standardized processes that can be confirmed for credit later.
This means starting with smaller initiatives and programs more related to workplace-relevant expertise than academic qualifications. And smaller stacks that have immediate practical value. Then maybe think about stacking further, but also think about unifying, transformative elements to bring these things together, that go beyond building a Bachelors like Lego.