In today’s higher education environment, there seems to be a new term or buzz word swirling around each and every day. Some may not be worth a second look, but others, like micro-credentials, deserve a little extra attention. In a recent survey of human resource managers spanning multiple industries, 95% said they were interested in the micro-credentials of potential hires. As digital portfolios become a standard tool in classrooms for educators and students, and a valuable metric for employers sourcing new hires, understanding what micro-credentials are, how they work, and the extent to which they improve outcomes in an evidence-based world is a necessary step in the right direction.
Breaking down Micro-Credentials
At their core, micro-credentials are proof that a skill or level of mastery has been earned by the recipient. Think of micro-credentials as mini-certifications in a specific area of study or professional development, like leading a team or applying computer coding skills to complete a project. Micro-credentials are also referred to as digital badges, mini-degrees, and micro certifications, depending on the person or institution issuing them. No matter their name, micro-credentials represent a searchable, archivable digital certificate that easily showcasing a learned or mastered skill.
Micro-credentials may originate from a classroom setting or within the workplace, but regardless of the body issuing them, each micro-credential follows a similar path. First, the issuer determines the specific skills that need to be proven to earn the credential based on assignments or tasks completed. The micro-credential is named and then made available to students through a digital platform. Once a student has completed the work necessary to earn the credential, that evidence of work is reviewed to ensure its accuracy. Finally, the micro-credential is awarded, and it can easily be added to the recipient’s digital portfolio.
What makes micro-credentialing an important component in the world of education and professional development is the ability employers and educators have to search for certificates easily through a platform like Portfolium. Educators can quickly see where a student stands in comparison to his or her peers, and employers can source new hires based on relevant credentials earned by a specific student. Micro-credentials are a visual representation of knowledge and skills earned over time, creating a more streamlined process for evaluating an individual’s competencies.