MICROBOL Kick-off Conference 2020

The kick-off Conference of the MICROBOL project is the first in a series of meetings  that will evaluate the current practices and policies relating to microcredentials. Specifically, this event will explore the links between Micro-credentials and the Bologna Key Commitments. The coordinator and partners of the MICROBOL-project kindly invite all BFUG members and the representatives […]

EDEN’s MicroHE Multiplier Event

MicroHE national dissemination event

On the 10th of June EDEN held its national dissemination event in virtual form. The event was published on the EDEN website. EDEN invited 8 key experts and 2 presenters.

The panel listened to presentations about the context, the Briefing Paper, the results of the Bled Masterclass, and the suggested meta-data standards, followed by the introduction of the OEPass Learning Passport as Credit Supplement. The expert panel discussed the 10 questions sent in advance to each expert in 2 sessions: first the questions referring to the documents developed by the MicroHE project, than the questions about institutional practice and plans to introduce micro-credentials, feedback and expectations. The event was made public: 180 participants registered for the event and over 100 followed the webinar on our YouTube channel. The presentations are available on Slideshare.

The feedback of the panel was very positive, and raised awareness of the Micro-credentials issue in Europe as well as the MicroHE final conference on 23 June embedded in the EDEN 2020 Annual Conference.

MicroHE Final Conference at EDEN2020

Online MicroHE final conference on Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Are you prepared for the new world of microcredentials and digital credentials? Watch the conference recordings by clicking on the section headings.

Conference Website

Slides for Keynote: Micro-Credentials in the Future European Policy Landscape

Slides for Session A: Impact of micro-credentials on new learner paradigms

Micro-Credentials in the Future European Policy Landscape

Anthony F. Camilleri, Director at Knowledge Innovation Centre.

To succeed in finding suitable employment – and match an individual’s niche profile to that of a job vacancy –, today’s lifelong learners want their knowledge, skills and competences globally understood and recognised. These skills and competences can be acquired from a variety of sources, including formal and non-formal education, informal learning activities and work experiences.

MicroHE was built on the conviction that micro-credentialing in Higher Education can be the key to the successful transformation of universities’ service offering, to attract more learners and provide them with high quality micro-credentials that are portable, modular and stackable. The project has already produced highly influential outputs, such as the MicroHE meta-data standard, that has become an important building block of the new Europass data model, the first European issuer of blockchain-secured stackable ECTS credentials, and an ‘invitation only’ Digital Credentials Masterclass, where a selected groups of experts analysed and discussed the future development of micro-credentialing in the coming 5 to 10 years.

While the project partnership is busy completing their mission, the overall European Policy Landscape is rapidly changing as well, echoing the MicroHE sentiments and calls for action. The new Europass, the European Commission’s recently assembled Micro-Credentials Consultation Group and the MICROBOL (Micro-credentials linked to the Bologna key commitments) project are exemplary initiatives that speak for themselves.

Session A
Impact of micro-credentials on new learner paradigms

Jochen Ehrenreich,  Researcher at DHBW Heilbronn, Germany.

Manuel Dolderer, Economist and and founder of CODE university of applied sciences, Germany.

In this session, we will put the learner in the center of our considerations. You are welcome to join and contribute! Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) are increasingly confronted with requests from learners to recognize external learning such as MOOCs as credit towards a degree. Today’s world of work is complex, so students want to supplement their university education with specialized skills in fields such as Data Mining, Advanced Manufacturing or Online Marketing. Recognition can enhance student motivation, responsibility and determination, enabling more effective learning. It allows HEIs to give students a wide choice of  specializations. The HEI’s reputation  guarantees that an awarded degree meets high academic and professional standards. To facilitate learner’s physical and virtual mobility, HEIs will have to re-define curricula so that they are both rigorous and flexible.

Session B
Technology powering the future of micro-credentials

Mihajela Crnko, Jozef Stefan Institute.

Mitja Jermol, UNESCO Chair in OER and Open Education, Jozef Stefan Institute, Slovenia.

Procedures for recognition of prior learning or of non-formal/informal learning do not scale to the massive numbers of students enrolling in open education programmes such as Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Just like the ECTS standard has made physical student mobility in Europe so much easier, a harmonised European approach to recognizing and transferring open education digital credentials will enable virtual student mobility, empowering students to adapt their learning portfolio to changing labour market demands and new technological trends.

With an interoperable, validated and widely acknowledged meta-data standard, the MicroHE credentials clearinghouse –- built as a technology demonstrator –- is based on a new and accepted standard. In combination with the partners populating, testing and using the clearinghouse, which is powered by the latest blockchain technologies, this makes for a good pedigree and paves the way for a solid product-market fit of the clearinghouse that can satisfy the micro-credentials market. The vast potential of this approach lies in its possibility to address the needs of many different stakeholders, from students, universities, employers, and others. The technology is here and ready to be challenged in different environments and for many use cases.

Session C
Impacts of Micro-Credentials on Institutional Processes

Ira Sood, Researcher at Tampere University, Finland.

Conchur Mac Lochlainn, Researcher at Dublin City University, Ireland.

George Ubachs, Managing Director at EADTU, Netherlands.

Microcredentials represent an alternative approach towards handling the development needs of the modern day learner. They not only help target individual competence development but also offer increased flexibility and personalization providing added value to an Institution’s learning offerings. Digitalisation has had a major impact on the education sector as a whole in the last decade. Although so far it only appeared as an opportunity, until very recently the COVID crisis turned it into a necessity overnight. Institutions that were well prepared breathed a sigh of relief while those that weren’t were left scrambling for last minute resources. The use and implementation of novel approaches such as Microcredentials has been the key focus of the MicroHE project. In practical terms, they require a well envisioned structured approach comprising different stages and layers of technical infrastructure as well as a proactive approach from HEIs. During various discussions with experts throughout the duration of the project, the impact of Microcredentials on the overall institutional strategy has been identified as key in offering the possibility to enhance and strengthen inter-institutional processes and at the same time making them more attractive to lifelong learners. The design and assessment of Microcredentials is another area that could offer new opportunities when it comes to creating an ecosystem that is sustained by continuous co-operation between HEIs, employers and digital content providers resulting in enhanced educational offerings, workforce capability and creation of new business models. Such initiatives are already picking up steam. The recently envisioned ECIU project aims to harness the potential of Microcredentials among a consortium of universities to offer challenge-based learning opportunities for students in collaboration with local businesses. MicroHE paved the way for the Microcredential movement and we would love to hear your ideas and thoughts on how we can take this movement further!

MicroHE Seminar in Slovenia

Rescheduling a face to face event that could not take place earlier due to the Covid-19 lock down, the Jožef Stefan Institute (JSI) and Knowledge 4 All Foundation (K4A) organised the Slovenian national MicroHE seminar on May 28 2020 in virtual settings.

You are welcome to review the overall project presentation here.

MicroHE featured at EU-level Coordination Webinar on micro-credentials

On May 11 2020 the European Commission has organised a Coordination Webinar for Erasmus+ funded projects working on the topic of micro-credentials. Anthony Camilleri’s slides showing the lessons learned in MicroHE are available for those who couldn’t join or would like to recap the presentation.

MicroHE at the 2019 Annual Conference of EUA

The European University Association (EUA) invited a MicroHE representative to its Annual Conference in the Support to HE Reform Experts (SP-HERE) held in Prague on 12-13 December. This international event provides a major networking space for approximately 120 HE Reform Experts from 20+ Southern and Eastern Neighbourhood countries, and provided a platform for various sessions on topically relevant issues. The invitation asked for an introduction to micro-credentials, tailored to the level of experience of the audience, plus how MicroHE is approaching the two major discussion points, i.e. granularity level and evidence required for assessment and recognition, and a results overview of the MicroHE project survey and Delphi study.

Ferenc Tátrai (EDEN) represented the MicroHE project at the conference. He was member of the “Skills and the labour market” panel, and moderated a presentation session in a break-up group on Digital provision & new credentials (micro credits). His presentation “Credentialing open non-formal learning in Higher Education: the MicroHE approach” created a fruitful discussion in the workshop.

The results of the MicroHE project were well received by the audience, and created a very positive evaluation in the conclusions of the break-out groups in the closing plenary.

Challenges and Opportunities of Micro-Credentials In Europe

What do students know about micro-credentials? Is there any university out there providing short learning programmes and accrediting them with modern, digital and stackable ECTS-compliant credits? What do EU regulators expect to update the accreditation systems in 2025? Is the corporate sector interested in micro-credentials?

The MicroHE team has spent hours in the second half of 2019 in interviewing nearly 50 representatives from students through HE representatives to regulators and employers in order to have an overall idea of their knowledge and expectations about this topic.

The briefing paper “Challenges and Opportunities of Micro-Credentials In Europe” is a comprehensive but synthetic report with the findings of this set of interviews, developed by Fondazione Politecnico di Milano with the help of DHBW and all the MicroHE partners.

Hopefully, it identifies the areas in which current European recognition instruments fall short and either provide better explanations on how to use those instruments in the context of micro-credentials and suggest optimisations to the instruments supporting micro-credential provision.

MicroHE Consortium Meeting and Digital Credentials Masterclass announced

The next MicroHE consortium meeting will be held on 23 October, followed by a 2 days long Masterclass in Bled, Slovenia on 24-25 October 2019.

The Digital Credentials Masterclass will bring together key experts to fuel the discussion on the future development of micro-credentialing. It will explore various aspects like access to education, development and information on learning opportunities, programme delivery, quality assurance, recognition or credit transfer and accumulation. The results of the European micro-credentials survey, launched earlier this year, will also be presented.

Blockchain and Education: Lille Conference Examines The Next Steps

With the upcoming Blockchain and Education Conference in Lille, 28-29 May, organised by the University of Lille and the Commonwealth Centre for Connected Learning, we take a look at why the time is propitious to examine the scope of this enabling technology in the field of education.

Blockchain technology has been around for over a decade now with its proponents and opponents clearly sorted out into rival factions. On the one hand, blockchain proponents have repeatedly aired their support to the potential the technology offers in fashioning large-scale disruption of the status quo across multiple industries; and on the other hand, blockchain opponents have attempted to provide equally strong objections to the purported fallacy promulgated by the former group that blockchain will solve ‘everything’.

No matter which side of the argument you are on, it is safe to say that nobody remains untouched by the effect of the manifold applications of this technology that are actively being researched and in some cases, being piloted and implemented in practice. The field of education is no exception. There is a considerable amount of interest in the usage of blockchain technology from different parts of the world and different sectors across education and its governance that has made it a priority in the field of educational innovation.

The field of education is brimming with issues stemming from different perspectives including those of the educators, the institutions, the policy makers and most importantly, the students. There is a heightened need to acknowledge the significance of concepts like lifelong learning and universally accepted self-sovereign digital identities in the global knowledge economy.

Blockchain-powered Mobility, Freedom, Transparency & Lifelong Learning

To limit a student’s learning on the basis of his/her geographical location is no longer a possibility in the digital world of internet and social media domination. Moreover, employers demand a brand new skill set from students that is centered on adaptability, agility and competency. Consequently, students need to be able to be mobile and have access to a broader range of educational resources, not limited to one university or one educational degree.

In order to facilitate that process, blockchain can be used to create a digital system of credentialing which has the grassroots support of not just students but also the educational institutions that confer credentials. Creating trustworthy digital identities for students could be the first step in reforming a system that has long remained crystalised while the world surrounding it has changed many times over.

The Commonwealth Centre for Connected Learning & Université de Lille Blockchain, Open Education and Digital Citizenship Conference, 28-29 May, examines the enabling potential of blockchain to aid learners and accrediting bodies… Click To Tweet

Blockchain and Education Conference, Lille

In order to understand the implications of using blockchain technology in education, it is essential to hear out all stakeholder beliefs across the sector including those from student leaders, educators, institutions, public bodies, private industries and the global blockchain community. Université de Lille and the Commonwealth Centre for Connected Learning aim to provide a collaborative platform for these voices to be able to discuss the many issues surrounding the use of blockchain technology in facilitating educational processes. The conference on Blockchain, Open Education and Digital Citizenship on 28-29 May, 2019 in Lille, France aims to gather expert opinions on the field and open room for discussion and debate on the future of education in the context of blockchain technology. The conference focuses on key topics like digital citizenship, decentralization of education, sustainability considerations for blockchain and the legal and regulatory framework that needs to be in place for the usage of blockchain technology in education.

The conference acts also a follow-up to the Commonwealth Centre of Connected Learning’s 2018 Conference findings on ‘Blockchain Credentials & Connected Learning‘.

Blockchain Education Conference – Registration

blockchain education Lille ConferenceThe full programme and registration details are on Blockchain Education France. Note that registration is open until 26 April. There are opportunities for stands and pitch presentations.

Cross posted from the ConnectedLearning website