August 28, 2020 min read
Around the world, micro-credentials are beginning to be recognised as the future-forward way for the workforce to build in-demand professional skills and advance in their careers.
Nearer to home, the Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA) recently launched the Guidelines to Good Practices for Micro-credentials (GGP), a document detailing the justification, principles, and best practices for micro-credentials in Malaysia.
With the release of the GGP, we are already seeing a growing interest among Malaysian education and training providers in piloting and offering micro-credentials.
But what is the GGP outline, and what does it mean for Malaysian higher education, training providers and the Malaysian learner? How will this affect the future of tertiary education, continuing professional development and corporate training in general?
In this blogpost, we have unpacked the GGP for providers who are looking to offer micro-credential programs.
They’ve been called micro-degrees, bite-sized qualifications, and more—but the main features of a micro-credential course are:
Good news for busy learners: a micro-credential course is shorter than your usual university course. It could be a small part of an accredited program or a stand-alone course:
An education provider may split one of the courses in their undergraduate degree in Business (e.g. Management, Theory and Practice) into a few different micro-credentials. One of them could be “Functional Management”. Ali, an entrepreneur with 7 years of experience can enrol in this micro-credential course and gain the knowledge and competency on this specific skill.
In completing a micro-credential course, candidates are required to demonstrate their development of knowledge, skills, and competency in a specified, targeted and often granular area. In doing so, candidates will be developing clear evidence or artefacts of learning “in action”. This is important because the proof of competency development is a common theme in micro-credentials.
Upon successful completion of a micro-credential course, candidates are awarded with a digital certification. This could be in the form of a digital badge or a certificate. The GGP states that digital certificates should be safe, secure, shareable and contain key information on the provider, the learner, what they have learned, and what they have achieved.
Micro-credentials can be stacked towards a larger unit of competencies developed via a range of pathways. What this means is that a candidate may complete various micro-credential courses offered by one or many providers based on their own needs and at their own pace, then use them to apply for credit towards an accredited qualification.
One interesting thing to note: alongside micro-credentials, a candidate’s prior skills and work or life experiences may also be taken as credits towards an accredited program. This means that it is possible to use recognition of informal and non-formal learning, like your work experiences or completion of a MOOC to seek qualifications.
Micro-credentials may change the way Malaysians approach formal learning and training. Competency-based learning as the new way of validating skills or knowledge gained is a game changer.
Above and beyond, it empowers individuals, mostly adults, to take charge of their learning and to ask themselves:
What do I really want to learn or improve on?
With this in mind, education and training providers can start designing their micro-credential programs or strategy by asking the following 3 questions:
One of the main features of micro-credentials is that course providers are required to understand the reasons why someone would take a micro-credential course. The GGP clearly states in their justification that “micro-credentials should be designed and delivered in response to demands of learners from employers or industries”.
The GGP states that one of the principles of a good micro-credential course is being able to clearly state the course outcomes. This is especially important if course providers are curating or re-purposing an accredited course into a micro-credential course.
In their approach, course providers would need to give a clear mapping of the outcomes with demand-driven competencies. This empowers the learner to make informed decisions on exactly which micro-credentials they need.
Course providers will start to connect micro-credentials to concrete career pathways and to inform candidates about what they will gain, and why it is a valuable skill to acquire, before joining the course.
As a result, we expect to see more collaboration between higher education and industry—providers will need to do thorough market research to ensure they are meeting a real need in terms of industry demand or relevance, otherwise their course may not attract a large enrolment.
We still have much to learn about the implementation of micro-credentials and what it can mean for providers and learners.
For providers, OpenLearning has recently released the OpenCreds framework in Australia. This framework is aligned to the AQF and will enable the higher education, vocational and training sectors to offer micro-credentials for Australian lifelong learners that are interoperable and recognised across industries.
In Malaysia, a version of OpenCreds is currently being drafted to align to MQA, and will be launched in mid-September 2020. This localised framework will ensure that every micro-credential delivered through the OpenLearning platform adheres to the GGP for the benefit of Malaysian learners.
In Malaysia, a version of OpenCreds is currently being drafted to align to MQA, and will be launched in mid-September 2020.
With this, OpenLearning intends to be the central point of integration and invites course providers, content partners, educators and thought leaders to form a coalition where, together we ask (and answer) the right questions to address the gaps in the implementation of micro-credentialing.
The successful implementation of OpenCreds represents an opportunity for Malaysian course providers to offer short-form courses, credentials and pathways that meet the needs of industry and learners alike by providing a range of upskilling opportunities to prepare Malaysians for a future of continuous, lifelong and life-wide learning.