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What Are Micro-credentials and What is the Use Case?

The concept of micro credentials has emerged as a powerful tool used to transform learning and certification processes. As the job market continues to experience a high demand for skill-specific jobs outside the scope of traditional classrooms, micro-credentials offer the perfect way to showcase skills and qualifications.

There is a disparity amongst people about the definition of micro credentials and their uses. According to a survey conducted by ECIU on 127 staff, 33% defined micro-credentials as “certification that can accumulate to a bigger certificate’. Another 18% defined it as “a documented statement to showcase learning outcomes in small volumes’’

These definitions only represent one aspect of micro credentials and their benefits. In this article, we will discuss what micro-credentials are and how they work. Furthermore, this article will highlight the benefits of micro-credentials to individuals and businesses.

what are micro credentails

What Are Micro Credentials?

Micro-credentials are simply digital credentials used to reward small work units. As the name suggests, micro-credentials or nano degrees are digital credentials received in anticipation of a bigger certification, such as a digital badge or certificate. They are used as compensation or rewards for completing small tasks, leading to a bigger reward. 

Typically, micro-credentials are different from other types of digital credentials. They represent a framework for rewarding short courses. That said, other credentials, such as digital badges or certificates, can be issued as micro-credentials. 

Micro credentials are not unique to education, as they can be used across different sectors. Organizations offer micro-credentials to employers for continued education, non-profits reward volunteers with micro-credentials for participation, and students can prove course completion using micro-credentials.

How Do Micro-credentials Work?

Micro-credentials are usually smaller in scope than other digital certificates. They are issued to prove that the recipient has completed a particular aspect of a subject. Here is how micro-credentialing works;

Focused Learning

Micro-credentials make it easier to focus on a small task to receive the credential.

Short Duration 

Micro-credentials are earned by completing small and well-defined tasks. Unlike traditional certificates or other digital credentials, these tasks are usually achieved in a short time frame. 

Stackable

Micro-credentials are designed to be stackable. Recipients can earn several micro-credentials before receiving the final certification. The recipients will be motivated to build up skills and earn a more comprehensive certificate gradually.  

Let us take a look at a typical use case for micro-credentials;

For instance, a training module has four different units. Mark is an employee who wants to enroll in the training course and comes across two different facilitators. One facilitator offers micro-credentials for the completion of each unit and a certificate at the end of the course. The other facilitator only offers a certificate at the end of the training. Which option will be the best for Mark?

Mark can earn a micro-credential four times to demonstrate that each unit has been completed before obtaining a final credential. That is how micro-credentials work!

What Are The Benefits of Micro-credentials for Organizations?

Micro-credentials are proof that an individual has acquired a short learning experience. Organizations benefit from the usage of micro-credentials in the following 5 ways;

  • Improving skill development in the workforce 
  • Cost-Effective 
  • Time-Efficient 
  • Flexible Learning 
  • Employee/Talent Development
micro-credentials benefits for organizations

Improving Skill Development in the Workforce 

The need for organizations to constantly improve the skills and productivity of their workforce is essential. Micro-credentials are a good way for organizations to bridge the skills gap in their workforce. Micro-credentials are usually focused on rewarding specific short courses or skill acquisition. 

Organizations can create courses or trainings with educational institutions to educate their workforce. Training and short courses help to enable a high-skilled workforce and increase productivity.   

Cost Effective

Micro-credentials minimize an organization’s cost to improve the skill development of its employees. Micro-credentials and other online facilities will reduce the need for in-person webinars and training. In addition, earning micro-credentials can boost employee engagement in training, webinars, and skill development courses.

Time-Efficient 

Organizations can benefit from the short duration it takes to earn micro-credentials. Employees can acquire additional skills in a short time without affecting productivity in the workplace.  

Flexible Learning 

Micro-credentials provide flexible learning for employees in an organization. Micro-credentials allow employees to personalize learning and improve skills without affecting productivity.

Employee/Talent Development

Micro-credentials streamline the recruitment and talent development processes of organizations. Micro-credentials help organizations ascertain the expertise level of a potential employee. Organizations can hire top talents with verifiable micro-credentials without hassle.

The opportunity for employees to develop personal and professional skills contributes to employee retention. In addition, organizations can attract high-skilled employees with a knack for constant learning and professional development.

What Are The Benefits of Micro-credentials for Individuals?

The benefits of micro-credentials are not only industry-specific, individuals also gain from it in several ways. Here are the 5 benefits of micro-credentials for individuals;

  • Professional Development
  • Career Advancement 
  • Flexibility and Accessibility  
  • Cost-Effective Education
  • Global Recognition 
micro credentials benefits for individuals

Professional Development

Micro-credentials are a good way for individuals to improve their professional skills and stay relevant in their chosen careers. Individuals can showcase their skills and highlight their portfolios using micro-credentials. Furthermore, earning micro-credentials helps to prove that an individual is up to speed with current trends and knowledge in their chosen field. 

Career Advancement 

Acquiring micro-credentials to showcase skills and qualifications earned contributes to career advancement. The stackable nature of micro-credentials proves that an employee is committed to continuous learning. This helps to position employees for promotions in their organization. 

Flexibility and Accessibility  

Micro-credentials provide a more flexible learning mode than traditional certificates since they are issued online. They are earned by attending self-paced courses and training, meaning they can be completed in hours or days. This means individuals can take up courses and training at their convenience. 

In terms of accessibility, micro-credentials are easily accessible and safer to store. They are stored and verified more easily than traditional paper certificates. 

Cost-Effective Education

Acquiring a micro-credential is more cost effective than traditional certificates. The introduction of MOOC and online educational institutions that issue micro-credentials makes education more affordable  and accessible.

Global Recognition 

A micro-credential allows individuals to showcase informal learning experiences such as self-taught courses, charity volunteering, on-the-job training, etc. Micro-credentials can be used to validate these skills and experiences. This allows individuals to showcase their skills beyond formal education to organizations worldwide.

How Can Micro-Credentials Be Used to Develop New Skills and Advance a Career?

Technological developments have brought many changes across different industries, and employees can only stay relevant by constantly learning new trends. One way to get a headstart in your career is by constantly learning and earning micro-credentials. Micro-credentials are excellent for people to showcase their skills, qualifications, and expertise. 

In this section, let’s discuss three ways in which micro-certifications are used to develop new skills and advance in careers;

  • Constantly Evolving Job Opportunities 
  • Encourages Lifelong Learning
  • Increases Employability 

Constantly Evolving Job Opportunities

There is constant change in job roles and employment requirements in major industries such as finance, engineering, etc. There is a need for employees in those sectors to stay updated with new changes in their industries. Individuals can use micro-credentials to showcase knowledge or experiences gained about a particular subject.   

For instance, introducing blockchain technology and cryptocurrency has caused changes in the financial sector. This introduction has brought new job opportunities in the finance sector, such as blockchain engineer, blockchain analyst, etc. In addition, organizations and individuals in the finance sector can take courses about blockchain technology as to how it affects their business. 

Encourages Lifelong Learning

The opportunity to earn micro-credentials and share on resumes or social media forums encourages learning for individuals. Unlike traditional courses that are cumbersome and expensive, micro-credential courses are short and focused on relevant subjects. Since these courses are usually short-term and flexible, they can boost retention and employee productivity.

Increases Employability 

As competition increases in the job market, employees can increase employability using micro-credentials. A micro-credential demonstrates that an employee is committed to continuous learning and professional development. Micro-credentials allow individuals, freelancers, and corporate workers to upskill and enhance their resumes.

Are Micro-Credentials the Future of Digital Credentials?

Micro-credentials are vital tools that are offer an alternative to the traditional methods of certification. Micro-credentials’ popularity is rooted in their short-term, easily adaptable, efficient, and support skills development. 

Micro-credentials are transforming education by redefining certification processes. They enable flexible learning modes, transparent verification processes, and streamlined organization recruitment processes. 

Micro-credentials validate informal learning outside the classroom. Activities outside traditional formal education can be recognized using micro credentials. Micro-credentials have created an avenue for personalized learning where learners can assimilate at their own pace. Soft skills, courses, training, and every form of education or qualification can be showcased with micro-credentials.  

What Are the Other Types of Digital Credentials?

There are three other types of digital credentials popularly used aside from micro-credentials. Digital credentials all have one thing in common – they showcase achievements or the completion of a feat. Nevertheless, they each have their own use case. The other types of digital credentials include digital badges, digital certificates, and digital diplomas. 

What is a Digital Badge?

A digital badge is a representation of an individual’s achievement or success. Digital badges are visual images that contain metadata. The metadata included in digital badges contains relevant information about the credential. Digital badges are designed to have different colors, shapes, and symbols as specified by the issuer..

What is a Digital Certificate?

A digital certificate is a digitally created document designed to display an achievement, qualification, or skill. Digital certificates are equivalent to traditional paper certificates in terms of purpose, but they are safe, easily verifiable, and accessible. Online educational institutions commonly use digital certificates to students for successfully completing their courses.

What is a Digital Diploma?

A digital diploma is simply the digital equivalent of traditional paper diplomas. Digital diplomas serve the function of paper diplomas. As with traditional diplomas, digital diplomas contain relevant information about the subject of the credential and issuer. This information includes the recipient’s name, issuer (organization), year of graduation, course title, etc.

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