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The Magic of Micro-credentials: Learning Unbundled or Bundles of Trouble?

Invited presentation at the University of Maribor, Slovenia, 9th July, 2023.

1 of 68
9th June 2023
Professor Mark Brown
Dublin City University
Photo by Almos Bechtold on Unsplash
Where is the magic?
How to execute a transformative strategy?
Why might we encounter bundles of trouble?
The Magic of Micro-credentials
Before we start…
88%
Before we start…
Photo by Almos Bechtold on Unsplash
Photo by David Marcu on Unsplash
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1. Where is the magic?

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The Magic of Micro-credentials: Learning Unbundled or Bundles of Trouble?

  • 1. 9th June 2023 Professor Mark Brown Dublin City University Photo by Almos Bechtold on Unsplash
  • 2. Where is the magic? How to execute a transformative strategy? Why might we encounter bundles of trouble? The Magic of Micro-credentials
  • 5. Photo by Almos Bechtold on Unsplash
  • 6. Photo by David Marcu on Unsplash Older Newer 1. Where is the magic?
  • 7. 500,000 Canadians annually seek to complete St. John’s certificates Since 1833 1. Where is the magic? TWIG, 2021
  • 8. 1. Where is the magic?
  • 9. 1. Where is the magic?
  • 10. (Presant , 2022) 1. Where is the magic?
  • 11. 1. Where is the magic? https://ec.europa.eu/education/sites/default/files/document-library-docs/european-approach-micro-credentials-higher-education-consultation-group-output-final-report.pdf
  • 12. ‘Micro-credential’ means the record of the learning outcomes that a learner has acquired following a small volume of learning. These learning outcomes will have been assessed against transparent and clearly defined criteria. Learning experiences leading to micro-credentials are designed to provide the learner with specific knowledge, skills and competences that respond to societal, personal, cultural or labour market needs. Micro- credentials are owned by the learner, can be shared and are portable. They may be stand-alone or combined into larger credentials. They are underpinned by quality assurance following agreed standards in the relevant sector or area of activity (European Commission, 2022). 1. Where is the magic?
  • 13. 1. Where is the magic? 13.6% Ireland 18.9% Slovenia
  • 14. 1. Where is the magic?
  • 15. 1. Where is the magic?
  • 16. 1. Where is the magic?
  • 17. 1. Where is the magic?
  • 18. 1. Where is the magic?
  • 19. 1. Where is the magic?
  • 20. 1. Where is the magic?
  • 21. 1. Where is the magic?
  • 22. Photo by Matthew Henry on Unsplash Loss of the Sheepskin Effect 1. Where is the magic?
  • 23. 1. Where is the magic?
  • 24. 1. Where is the magic?
  • 25. Equity SDGS (Brown et al., 2021) 1. Where is the magic?
  • 26. Drivers Attractors Micro- credential Force Field Analysis Future of Work Increase Employability New Revenue Skill Gaps Lifelong Learning Restraining Force 1 •Example text •Fill in your own •Example text Online Learning Restraining Force 1 •Example text •Fill in your own •Example text Value of CPD COVID Crisis Knowledge Economy Knowledge Society Why? 1. Where is the magic?
  • 27. Where do they fit? Credit-bearing or not? Stackable or not? Size? Cost? 1. Where is the magic?
  • 28. Photo by Almos Bechtold on Unsplash
  • 30. 2022 2. How to execute a transformative strategy?
  • 31. €12m 2. How to execute a transformative strategy?
  • 32. 2. How to execute a transformative strategy?
  • 33. Key questions for institutions… • What type of leadership is required? • What type of structures are required? • What type of business models are required? 2. How to execute a transformative strategy?
  • 34. Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash “Get the right people on the bus and in the right seats” (Clayton Christensen, 2015) 2. How to execute a transformative strategy?
  • 35. 2. How to execute a transformative strategy?
  • 36. “We found that effective leaders listen, link, leverage and then lead, in that order” (Fullan & Scott, 2009, p. 97). 2. How to execute a transformative strategy?
  • 37. 2. How to execute a transformative strategy?
  • 38. 2. How to execute a transformative strategy?
  • 39. 2. How to execute a transformative strategy?
  • 40. Who provides governance? Photo by Benjamin Child on Unsplash 2. How to execute a transformative strategy?
  • 41. 2. How to execute a transformative strategy?
  • 42. 2. How to execute a transformative strategy?
  • 43. • Mainstreams • Part of normal work • Strong alignment to macro-credentials NEW STRUCTURES WEAKNESSE S ESTABLISH A PROFESSIONAL AND CONTINUING EDUCATION UNIT WHAT ARE YOUR OPTIONS? S O W T CREATE A COMPLETELY SEPARATE STANDALONE BUSINESS UNIT INCORPORATE INTO A CENTRAL DIGITAL EDUCATION SUPPORT UNIT INTEGRATE INTO THE NORMAL FACULTY STRUCTURES AND DELIVERY MODEL STRENGTHS CURRENT STRUCTURES • Less flexibility • Added workload • Limited disruption to normal business • Greater coordination • Builds on current expertise • Reduced burden placed on academic staff STRENGTHS WEAKNESSE S • Less flexibility • Added workload • Limited disruption to normal business • Specialist services • Clear business owner • Common business and resource allocation model WEAKNESSE S STRENGTHS • Faculty disconnect • Leveraging industry links • Weaker nexus between research and teaching • Greater flexibility • Adopts a commercial business model • Easier to establish return on investment WEAKNESSE S STRENGTHS • Little cross subsidisation • Outside of normal business • Loss of academic ownership H3 Innovation H1 Innovation H1 Innovation H2 Innovation How do you decide? 2. How to execute a transformative strategy? (Brown, 2022)
  • 44. 2. How to execute a transformative strategy?
  • 45. 2. How to execute a transformative strategy? https://www.eciu.eu
  • 47. 2023 https://jime.open.ac.uk/ 2023 2. How to execute a transformative strategy?
  • 48. Photo by Almos Bechtold on Unsplash
  • 49. Looking for lost sheep… Photo by Christian Bass on Unsplash Photo by Ben Stein on Unsplash • Calculating the real costs • Failure to address the demand-side • Gaps in quality assurance 3. Why we might encounter bundles of trouble? • Limited evidence of the benefits • Challenge of navigating entangled discourses
  • 50. Photo by Sasun Bughdaryan on Unsplash Costs Direct Indirect 3. Why we might encounter bundles of trouble?
  • 51. 3. Why we might encounter bundles of trouble?
  • 53. On-campus = 0 Hybrid = 0 Online = 150 Blended = 95 30/05/2023 https://microcreds.ie/ 3. Why we might encounter bundles of trouble?
  • 54. 3. Why we might encounter bundles of trouble?
  • 55. Survey of 510 US employers https://upcea.edu/employers-are-all-in-on-microcredentials-survey-shows-inside-higher-ed/ 3. Why we might encounter bundles of trouble?
  • 56. 3. Why we might encounter bundles of trouble?
  • 57. 1 In 25+ countries, we found no national framework, standards or guidelines for micro-credentials. In many cases, however, there is evidence of a plan or commitment in the future to integrating quality assurance standards for micro-credentials within existing requirements. 2 In Australia, Canada (x3), United Kingdom, Estonia, Spain (x2) and The Netherlands we found common standards already apply for micro-credentials, and tangible evidence of a decision to extend the application of existing standards for their quality assurance. 3 In New Zealand, Malaysia and Ireland, we identified a framework or specific standards or guidelines for micro-credentials to address particular issues related to their quality assurance. No specific quality assurance standards for micro-credentials Common standards and quality assurance processes apply for micro-credentials Specific standards and quality assurance processes developed for micro-credentials 3. Why we might encounter bundles of trouble?
  • 58. Specific QA issues for online [MCs] Includes M icro-credentials Organisational context • Business continuity • Access to IT infrastructure • Learners outside of country Programme context • Online teaching experience • Training and professional development • Synchronous vs asynchronous delivery Learner context • Learner readiness • Access to online resources • Equivalency of learning support 3. Why we might encounter bundles of trouble?
  • 59. • No careers guidance • No course quality rating • No learner support information • No quality assurance information • No employability outcomes data 3. Why we might encounter bundles of trouble?
  • 60. Plan and Adjust • Institutional leadership • Organisational structures • Business models and resource allocation • Policies, regulations & pathways, including for online delivery outside of country • IT Systems and platforms - Flexible enrolment - LMS/VLE - Digital badging/certificate Implement Monitor • Internal approval processes • Appropriate workload models • Professional learning and support for MC development • Peer review of learning design • Appropriate assessment and learner feedback strategies • Study disclosure and learner readiness for success • Availability of learning support and library resources Quality Assurance Processes and Supports Strategy, Quality Culture and Infrastructure Feedback and Performance Reporting • Learning analytics data on student engagement • Retention, progression and completion data • Student experience data • Employer satisfaction data • Meets professional accreditation requirements • Graduate employment data • Cyclic institutional review of micro-credential offerings 3. Why we might encounter bundles of trouble?
  • 61. 2023 (Hollands & Kazi, 2019) 6% pay rise 3. Why we might encounter bundles of trouble?
  • 62. A data desert! 3. Why we might encounter bundles of trouble?
  • 63. “Microcredentialing is an outgrowth of the neoliberal learning economy. In this economy, education resembles a commodity, a product, or service marketed and sold like any other commodity” (p. 2). 3. Why we might encounter bundles of trouble?
  • 64. 3. Why we might encounter bundles of trouble?
  • 65. Photo by Almos Bechtold on Unsplash
  • 66. “Micro-credentials should be in the service of big ideas, not as a big idea in itself” (adapted from Barnett, 2011)
  • 68. Thank you Professor Mark Brown Director, National Institute for Digital Learning Dublin City University Ireland mark.brown@dcu.ie Contact details…