4th MicroHE Consortium meeting in Germany

On the afternoon of 6 February 2019, we concluded an intensive, and highly productive, 2.5-day joint OEPass–MicroHE meeting in Heilbronn, Germany. Our host, DHBW, showed great initiative by proposing an innovative agenda and the unconventional meeting structure proved to be very beneficial.

Just like last time, on the afternoon of our arrival we had an expert meeting to kick off the work. This time our guest was Darco Jansen from EADTU. Darco is the coordinator of the European Short Learning Programmes (e-SLP) project, another Erasmus+ funded project, the partners of which have already conducted surveys about short learning programmes. Their results have great relevance to both projects, particularly MicroHE, that is also foreseeing to undertake surveys and interviews to analyse the current and short-term scope of micro-credential provision and to identify barriers to their accreditation and recognition in Europe. After an exchange of introductions of project goals, plans and our findings so far, we agreed that – in order to maximise the value of our combined efforts and to avoid reinventing the wheel – the MicroHE survey will learn from and build upon the e-SLP findings and also feed back the lessons learned from our own surveys and interviews to e-SLP.

On the first official meeting day, instead of sitting through a series of presentations, we were given time and space to discuss and fine-tune our project outputs in practical workshops. We still have some “homework” to do before we can pronounce the tackled outputs finalised, but we made greater progress during these few hours than for weeks beforehand. Especially since we all had different angles of approaching the same results, the constructive group work could bring all the partners to the same comprehensive understanding of the (multiple) purposes and functionalities of the outputs we are working on.

Both partnerships were invited to each other’s meetings, and although not everybody could stay for all 3 days, Tuesday evening we had both OEPass and MicroHE representatives at DHBW’s premises to participate in the most entertaining part of the programme, the team building cooking activity. We had a truly international menu of 10+ dishes, including simple but amazingly delicious Lithuanian garlic bread, Indian curry, Finish casserole (with a Greek twist), Italian gnocchi made from scratch, German apple strudel and a heavenly Hungarian dessert.

Cross posted from the OEPass website

MicroHE introduced to the MOONLITE community

At the end of October 2018 MicroHE and its sister project, OEPass, were invited to be introduced at the first multiplier event of the MOONLITE project. The recognition that these projects have the potential to make welcome changes to the educational landscape, and make a positive impact on the lives of Europe’s migrants and refugees, was a sign that our dissemination efforts are bearing fruits even in niche circles of HE providers.

The extent and significance of the impact made by OEPass and MicroHE depend on too many factors to predict precisely, but as Higher Education Institutions won’t be able to swim against the technological current for very long, we can be hopeful that maybe this time they will seize the day and lead the way to establishing an open and shared credential infrastructure by opening up their own credential offerings and making efforts to validate and recognise that of others, regardless whether these credentials come from formal or non-formal education. If this will also result in better integration of disadvantaged people, such as migrants and refugees, into our European society, job market and economy, we should be doubly pleased.

The detailed programme and all the presentations – that were all recorded – are now available on the MOONLITE website. Click here to view the presentation on OEPass and MicroHE, or find the slides on Ildiko Mazar’s Slideshare.

Cross posted from the OEPass web site

Guests from Singapore

On the 25th of November a delegation from Singapore visited the Research and Laboratory Department of DHBW Heilbronn, Germany. Together with their president Prof. Graf, OEPass project coordinator Mr. Raimund Hudak, Head of Research, welcomed the employees of SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG), an authority of the Ministry of Education in Singapore. The delegation was informed about, and discussed the objectives of, the ongoing EU sister projects MicroHE and OEPass.

The SSG promotes and coordinates lifelong learning with educational institutions in Singapore to ensure that students and working adults have lifelong access to quality education. As part of the SkillsFuture movement, the SSG has developed a competence framework for key sectors of the economy. This Competence Framework is developed by the government in collaboration with employers, industry associations, trade unions and professional associations for Singapore workers, and it provides up-to-date information on career paths, occupations, professional roles, existing and new skills and relevant training programmes.

The SkillsFuture Singapore team travelled through Germany and met, besides the DHBW Heilbronn, the Institute for Employment Research (IAB), the German Development Institute (DIE), the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (BiBB) and the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).

Based on our mutual interest, we agreed to continue to regularly exchange information on our project developments and to work more closely together on the topic of FutureSkills.

Cross posted from the OEPass web site

MicroHE at the Danube Rectors Conference

MicroHE at #EDLW2018

3rd MicroHE Consortium meeting in Malta

Since the project started in November 2017 this was the third time the consortium met face to face, and this time it was KIC’s turn to host the partners in Malta.

After an expert workshop held on Monday afternoon with 0xcert CEO, Kristijan Sedlak, and the subsequent consultation with the OEPass partnership, the MicroHE project now has the basis of a tech solution to facilitate portability of micro-credentials. When ready, we will call this instrument the Credential Clearinghouse. If you’re interested at being amongst the first testers of its Beta version, please get in touch. In the meantime you can already participate in the public consultation for a Meta-Data Standard for recording Micro-Credentials on Github.

0xcert Protocol Solution in MicroHE

The day before the 3rd face to face MicroHE partner meeting 0xcert CEO, Kristijan Sedlak, has joined some of us to discuss how their technological expertise and the 0xcert Protocol Solution could help achieve our ambitious goals.

Why Blockchain in Education?

Like any other industry, public services are subject to the evolution of technology and IT, as well as influenced by digitization of internal systems and operations. To address this issue, the Expert Workshop brought together the field experts to discuss the advancement and applicability of technology in the realm of higher education.

What can 0xcert Bring to the Table?

Together with MicroHE partners, Knowledge 4 All Foundation (K4A) and the Jozef Stefan Institute (JSI), 0xcert is building a blockchain-based system for issuing and management of academic credentials, leveraging blockchain qualities of traceability, security, and ease of authentication.

Also, by implementing the NFT (non-fungible token) technology, the uniqueness, meta-data, and identity related to a certificate can be securely protected on a ledger while providing all involved parties with a simple, autonomous, and intuitive means of management.

Kristijan Sedlak presented the 0xcert Protocol and its application for academic credentials publicly for the first time in Malta, discussing the vision of the final tech solution jointly with colleagues from MicroHE. Both the customized 0xcert Protocol and the front-end interface mock-up (developed to explain how the portability of micro-credentials could be facilitated) were received with great appreciation and enthusiasm.

The original blog post of 0xcert expresses gratitude for the opportunity to do their first public presentation in front the MicroHE partnership, but we feel just as proud and excited about this collaboration as they do. Kristijan, thank you for joining us in Malta.

Towards a Universal System for Recording Educational Credit: MicroHE & OEPass

The overarching idea of the founding member of the MicroHE project (namely KIC, TUT and DHBW) was to address the fragmentation of credentials in Higher Education. New forms of education such as MOOCs are blurring the difference between formal and non-formal education, while providers of Higher Education offer a whole host of credentials – no longer only degrees –, each with different properties, value and recognition.

The MicroHE project was designed to focus explicitly on micro-credentials, commonly related to a specific form of learning known as SLP or short learning programme. This can be loosely defined as any sub-degree learning experience, whether formal, non-formal or informal, which confer a minimum of 5 ECTS credits and are offered by accredited and/or recognised institutions. In particular, MicroHE aims to provide a recognition framework for students to combine various modules offered by different (mainly online) education providers into sub-degree qualifications such as MicroMasters or Nanodegrees.

While MicroHE is focusing on these special types of micro-credentials in Higher Education, its sister project, OEPass, has complementary objectives. OEPass started with the simple idea of using the already widely accepted ECTS as a base standard, and use different combinations of ECTS building blocks to describe new forms of credentials that have emerged with open learning experiences. Open education and virtual mobility can often be non-formal, self-guided and vary in length from a few hours to multiple weeks, and OEPass envisages to create a standard (meta-data) format to account for these learning experiences with ‘universal currency’.

As MicroHE and OEPass focus on different but closely related parts of the alternative HE offering spectrum, close collaboration between the two projects promises great prospects. To exploit the synergy between the initiatives, and to maximise their benefits, the two consortia agreed to use a common set of formats and meta-data to describe the various credentials on which they focus, thus ensuring that the projects help in consolidating existing recognition instruments rather than further fragmenting them. The partnerships have also agreed to work with other projects investigating the field to share approaches and continue building on this innovative cooperation.

By focusing on complementary parts of the credential ecosystem, and applying the same (meta-data) standards, OEPass & MicroHE hope to introduce a level of harmonisation throughout open education.

Cross posted from the OEPass web site

MicroHE at the Open Education Design Course

In July 2018 the University of Nova Gorica and the UNESCO Chair on Open Technologies for Open Educational Resources and Open Learning at Jožef Stefan Institute organised the Course in Open Education Design to equip the participants with basic knowledge, practical advice and hands-on experience to prepare them for their own design of Open Educational […]

MicroHE at the EDEN 2018 Annual Conference

The 27th EDEN Annual Conference was held in Genoa, Italy on 17-20 June 2018. The conference was organised by MicroHE project partner, the European Distance and E-Learning Network (EDEN).

This year, the theme of the conference was “Exploring the micro, meso and macro: Navigating between dimensions in the digital learning landscape“. Open Education continues its success, providing radical advances in knowledge acquisition, sharing, distribution, and improving business models. Digital credentials and open badges are the new currencies which are beginning to transform the economic models in education.

The MicroHE project received ample attention by being represented in the conference programme by a paper titled “Support Learning through Microcredentialling – The Case of the MicroHe Initiative” on Monday and by a brief mention by Anthony Camilleri in his keynote speech: “Beyond the Hype: a Blockchain Perspective to Educational Management“.