Micro-credentials are attracting a lot of attention these days. Learners like them because they’re quick and focused. Organizations like them because they add “stickiness,” getting employees excited about professional development and keeping members invested in the learning programs associations have to offer.
But for something that seems so small, getting started with micro-credentials can feel confusing.
This article will look at five best practices your organization can leverage to start using micro-credentials.
What Is a Micro-Credential?
A micro-credential is a representation of a competency or achievement that’s earned through a short, focused program. To receive one, learners need to demonstrate that they’ve met a set of requirements that could be tied to either one of two benchmarks:
- Progress: Does the person need to complete a specific activity or module?
- Performance: Does the learner need to submit an assessment to show their mastery of a skill?
Each micro-credential also needs to contain important information about how the learner achieved it, the evidence that backs it up, and who issued it in order to make it easier to verify and validate in the future.
When it comes to what your micro-credentialing program should look like, the answer depends on what your goals are for it. One of the benefits of micro-credentials is that they’re flexible. They can be used for one-off qualifications that are finished in a week or as part of a larger stacked program that takes a year or more to finish. They can target soft skills like communication, management, or leadership or technical ones like getting people up to speed with new or updated software.
What’s important is that each individual micro-credential can be achieved in no more than a few weeks and is geared to building a specific skill.
5 Things to Remember When Implementing Micro-Credentials at Your Organization
Whether you’re starting from scratch or want to revamp an existing micro-credentialing program, there are a number of best practices you can lean on to help you get started.
1. Measure Competency—Not Time Spent Learning
On the one hand, you want micro-credentials to be fun, because from the learner’s perspective, that’s one of the appealing things about them. They only require a few hours or weeks of a person’s time. Plus, at the end, people get a badge they’re able to share with their networks through social media platforms.
At the same time, micro-credentials need to be aligned with your learners’ and your organization’s goals. That can be key to helping move the needle on professional development in meaningful, real ways and driving lasting engagement and growth with the programs.
2. Encourage Collaboration with Peers
One thing that’s important to remember about adult learners is that they’re often coming to the table with years of real-world experience. Building collaboration into learning and training experiences can be valuable because it shows them that you respect the knowledge and expertise they already have and it gives them a chance to share it.
3. Relate the Content to the Learner’s Job
Adults are selective, solution-oriented learners. The more applicable learning can be to what they want or need to do in their roles, the more appealing it will be to them.
Read more from Kiara Graham, a learning strategy consultant with D2L, on how to use design thinking to create L&D programs that meet the needs of workplace learners.
4. Keep Programs Focused
One of the hallmarks of micro-credentials is that they put laser focus on a specific skill or competency. Don’t lose sight of that.
5. Lean into Program Data
Ultimately, you want to make sure your micro-credentialing programs are having an impact on both your organization and its learners. You can pull insights from a variety of sources, including learner surveys and your learning management system. This can help shine a light on the impact your programs are having today and open the door to future improvements and iterations.
Haley Wilson is a Content Marketing Manager at D2L, specializing in the corporate learning space. She holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Guelph as well as a Master of Arts focused in history from Wilfrid Laurier University.
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