What is a micro-credential, and what advantages does it entail?

In today’s digital educational ecosystems, there are more and more tools with which students can acquire and demonstrate their knowledge...
3 March 2023

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What is a micro-credential, and what advantages does it entail?

In today’s digital educational ecosystems, there are more and more tools with which students can acquire and demonstrate their knowledge and skills reliably: one of them is micro-credentials

Also known as digital badges, they serve in the educational system. They are also instrumental in companies and private organizations that want to train their employees further or in selection processes.

Through this post, we will learn what micro-credentials are, what use you could give them in your organization, and their main benefits and disadvantages.

What is a micro-credential

In today’s digital educational ecosystems, there are more and more tools with which students can acquire and demonstrate their knowledge and skills reliably: micro-credentials are one of them.

Micro-credentials are certifications or recognitions awarded to individuals who have completed a specific course or training program. These courses are often brief and focused on a particular topic, such as soft skills or hard skills, and can be delivered online and in person.

Micro-credentials differ from traditional degrees or professional certifications because they are more specific and agile in focus. They can be obtained quickly and often have more flexible prerequisites.

After these paragraphs, you will hopefully know the micro-credential definition.


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Micro-credentials and digital badges in higher education

University students are currently the most common users of micro-credentials (sometimes known as digital badges). For them, micro-credentials can be an excellent way to acquire specific skills and knowledge that will benefit their future careers.

Often, university students are exposed to a wide variety of subjects but may need to gain hands-on experience in a specific field. Micro-credentials can help them to achieve that experience and demonstrate their skills to potential employers.

Additionally, micro-credentials can be an excellent way for university students to customize their education and align it with their professional interests and goals. They can take specific courses to acquire skills and knowledge in a field they are interested in, which will help them to stand out from other job candidates in the job market.

Micro-credentials

Micro-credential platforms: how do they work?

Some micro-credentials are issued through a digital platform and are verifiable; others are issued through a physical certificate or diploma. They may be part of a continuing education program, where the individual must be a member of a professional organization to be able to obtain it. 

At the technical level, micro-credentials can be issued and verified using different technologies such as:

  1. Blockchain: Microcredentials issued on a blockchain are immutable and verifiable, meaning they cannot be altered or falsified. Students receive a cryptographic key that they can use to prove their credentials to employers or educational institutions.
  2. Learning Management Systems (LMS): Many learning management systems (LMS) allow educational institutions to issue and verify micro-credentials. Students can access their credentials through an online platform and can share it with employers or other educational institutions.
  3. Credential Wallet: These mobile or desktop applications allow users to store, share and verify their credentials online. Students can upload a copy of their micro-credential to their wallet and share it with employers or other educational institutions.
  4. Open Badge: This is an open standard for issuing, managing, and verifying micro-credentials. Students receive a file called a “badge”, which can include information about the course or program they completed, along with the logo of the educational institution or company that issued it.

Benefits and disadvantages of micro-credentials in education

Being a purely technological technology aimed at organizations with a strong edTech profile, micro-credentials can be very beneficial and, at the same time, challenging. Here are the reasons why.

Benefits of micro-credentials in education

Personalization

As mentioned before, micro-credentials allow students to personalize their education and tailor it to their interests and career goals. They can take specific courses to acquire skills and knowledge in a field they are interested in.

What is a micro credential

Flexibility

They are more flexible than traditional degrees or certifications, as their focus is more specific and agile. They can be obtained quickly and often have more flexible prerequisites.

Skill demonstration

They allow students to demonstrate their specific skills and knowledge to employers, which will help them to improve their job prospects and differentiate themselves from other candidates in the job market.

Verifiability

Some micro-credentials are issued and verified through technologies such as blockchain, which ensures that they are authentic and cannot be altered or falsified, which increases their value for employers.

Continuous education

Micro-credentials can be an excellent way for professionals to update their skills and knowledge and stay current in their field of work.

Micro-credentials and digital badges

Disadvantages of micro-credentials in education

Although micro-credentials have many benefits, there are also some challenges to overcome if they are to be applied in training and certification contexts.

Lack of regulation

Some micro-credentials can be issued by anyone or any organization, meaning their quality and validity can vary significantly.

Lack of recognition

While some companies and organizations recognize micro-credentials, not all of them are. It is essential to ensure that the companies and organizations in your field of interest recognize the micro-credential.

Cost

Some micro-credentials can be costly, and while some are free, they may not be recognized or have the same value as paid ones.

Lack of integration with traditional study programs

While micro-credentials can be an excellent way to acquire specific skills and knowledge, they may not necessarily integrate with conventional study programs, making it difficult to assess the skills acquired.

Lack of standardization

Although there are some initiatives to standardize micro-credentials, there is still a great variety in terms of content, requirements, and issuers, which can make it difficult to compare.

Some of these challenges can be overcome through proctoring tools like SMOWL’s products
If your company or institution is looking to grant micro-credentials, you will benefit from using a system to identify and monitor your assessments, so that you can grant these micro-credentials in a secure and reliable way. Ask us for a free demo and discover the full potential of SMOWL in combination with this innovative technology.


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