Micro-credentials: important (whatever they are)

MCs could be the next big thing in post-school education, as soon as everybody agrees on what they are and whether they can be trusted

Fortunately, MC maven Beverley Oliver has created a basis for discussions the world needs to have in a paper for UNESCO.

Key issues, she suggests, include

* where they fit: MCs can document informal acquisition of skills and knowledge but perhaps supplement, not replace degrees

* provision/accreditation: the proliferation of providers is, “part of the shift from education as a supply-driven to a demand driven system.” A big question is, will courses designed by corporates to create talent-pools of their own be accepted as skills statements by other employers.

* quality assurance: difficult to do without agreed standards and unregulated providers

* unintended consequences:  government could decide MCs are a quick and easy skill creator and fund them at the expense of formal education

First things first

Before anybody can agree on anything there needs be an agreement on what “microcredential” means, so UNESCO funded 50 experts to hammer out a definition. Professor Oliver’s report details the discussions around four proposal, including the one adopted (p 24).

The take-out

“the micro is the distinguishing feature of micro-credentials, but to be accepted and trusted, they must be seen to bear the quality hallmarks of credentials,” Professor Oliver advises.