What do the new MQA micro-credential guidelines mean for Malaysians?

August, 28 2020
OpenCreds, the stackable credentials coming soon to Malaysia
  • The Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA) released the micro-credential guidelines and good practices (GGP) in July 2020 as a new way to validate learning.
  • Education and training providers are encouraged to create micro-credentials that answer industry demands through competency-based learning.
  • OpenLearning aims to release OpenCreds, a micro-credentialing framework for the Malaysian education sector, industry and lifelong learners by mid-September 2020.

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 microcredentials.

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.

 

So, what does a micro-credential look like?

They’ve been called micro-degrees, bite-sized qualifications, and more—but the main features of a micro-credential are:

 

1. It’s shorter.

Good news for busy learners: a micro-credential is shorter than your usual university course. It could be a small part of an accredited program or a stand-alone course:

Longer degrees may be split into shorter microcredentials.

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 and gain the knowledge and competency on this specific skill.

 

2. It’s practical.

In completing a micro-credential, 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.

 

3. It’s recognised.

Upon successful completion of a micro-credential, 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. 

 

4. It’s stackable.

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-credentials 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.

 

5. It’s flexible.

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.

 

Course providers, how do you build a strategy for your micro-credentials?

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:

 

Q1: Are the course(s) demand-driven?

Action: Build micro-credentials to meet industry demand.

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. 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”:

Micro-credential guidelines from the MQA

 

Q2: Are the course(s) small (bite-sized) and stackable?

Action: Build focused micro-credentials with clear outcomes.

The GGP states that one of the principles of a good micro-credential is being able to clearly state the course outcomes. This is especially important if course providers are curating or re-purposing an accredited course to a micro-credential.


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.

 

Q3: Are the course(s) industry-approved?

Action: Build micro-credentials across industry and academia.


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.

 

What’s next for micro-credentials?

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.

 


 

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