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!

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