What are they and can they provide the solution to the ‘skill gap’ conundrum?
One can earn a micro-credential in a specific, targeted skill or acquire a number of them – part of a broader, inclusive skill set.
Udacity, one of the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) providers refer to those micro-credentials which form a skill set as nonodegrees and describe them as ‘curriculums designed to help you become job ready’.
Krista Moroder, a software engineer, states that micro-credentials are ‘empowering lifelong learners’.
She tells the story of her father, ‘I've watched him create both a successful photography business and construct a two-story cabin from blueprints. In many circles, my father is respected for the vast array of skills and content knowledge he has gained through years of research and deliberate practice. What he's missing, however, is the piece of paper that recognizes that knowledge - his highest level of educational attainment is a high school diploma.’
The Engineering Institute of Technology (EIT) is a convert; we believe that micro-credentials, gained singly or accumulated incrementally, are a vital means of further study for working adults requiring specific expertise, knowledge and the associated credential.
EIT’s online, but live and interactive platform of learning, presented by an international team of experts, also means that the credentials can be accessed from any corner of the globe.
Micro-credentials promise a more personalized, but professional learning. They can meet learners’ individual knowledge and skill gaps; plugging the holes and proving immediately useful within their careers and in the workplace.
Michael Netzer and Chris Reynolds, from the American Public University System believe in their wider application, ‘microcredentialing has the capacity to transform education at all levels and for all students, from non-traditional working professionals to traditional-age graduate and undergraduate students.’
We at the EIT call our micro-credentials PICO Masters. PICO means ‘very small’, but the term is also used in units of measurement, denoting a factor of 10−12 – and therefore selected by us to represent a portion of a qualification.
We are launching our first four topics later this year. The subject offerings will expand, but initially include:
- Practical Project Management
- Data Analysis and Statistics
- Environmental Issues and Sustainability
- Advanced Process Control
On successfully completing an EIT PICO Master micro-credential, credit is received for the corresponding unit in an EIT’s Master of Engineering Degree*.
*Upon successfully meeting the entry requirements for EIT’s Master Degree
Thanks to the following sites for a range of views on the topic and for the images: