Micro-credentials: The Future of Learning?

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We have all heard the saying that Learning has to be a continuous process. And the digitisation of learning has meant that it’s become easier than ever for people to learn a new skill, at whatever stage in their lives they might be.

I am a Visiting Faculty of Digital Marketing at a few institutes and teach both MBA students as well as Working Professionals. I like teaching, and so I occasionally wonder what the future of education and learning might look like. These are some of the trends that I believe will become increasingly important:

  1. Bite-sized learning – The desire to only invest time and money for learning some specific subjects or skills
  2. Anytime, anyplace learning – the ability to learn at one’s own convenience
  3. Application Oriented learning – learners are keen on pedagogies that prepare them better on how to apply their learnings in their immediate careers

Enter micro-credentials. These have become very popular very quickly to address the opportunities being created by these above trends. While they are not yet a substitute for formal, university oriented education, I have no doubt that these can, and will, play an increasingly important role going forward.

Does that mean that universities and established higher education institutes have reasons to worry?

I do not believe there is undue cause for concern, at least in the near term. There will continue to be the need for centres of academic excellence that provides an environment for people to go deep into a subject and do research. At the same time, there will continue to exist, for the near term, the need for ‘signalling’ – a way for society, especially employers, to be able to filter people by their ability to conform to the set of rules that define success in a typical academic set-up.

I would like this, to be different, though, such that people who might not have the ability, of the willingness, to conform to these set rules can still signal their capabilities and interests to the broader world. I believe micro-credentials can be a means to achieve this end. We are not there yet – the lack of a uniform set of standards to evaluate the various different ways to earn micro-credentials is a major issue that needs to be resolved before this can happen.

 

This post was inspired by the following article published on bbc.com – Could micro-credentials compete with traditional degrees?

 

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