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October 24, 2018

Online University Experience

Micro-credentials and professional learning.

Student studying for digital badge

Professional learning.

Learning doesn’t end when you stop going to school or graduate. Professional learning is an important element of advancing your career. No field is completely stagnant, and new information or methods are created all the time. Because of these consistent advancement, many industries require professional learning and ongoing education for their employees to help everyone stay at the top of their game, and up on the latest technology or methodology for their field. This means that often employers will require continuing education to earn or maintain certifications. Others encourage professional learning or professional certifications through conferences, classes, degree programs, or even things like micro-credentials.

What are micro-credentials and digital badges?

So what are micro-credentials, and what do they have to do with professional learning? Micro-credentials or digital badges, are certifications that help you gain specific abilities or knowledge that can help in your career. After obtaining a degree on teaching, you can get a specific micro-credential to teach writing to certain age groups. These micro-credentials help you demonstrate specific skills and proficiencies that are for your individual career path and goals. Micro-credentials allow professionals and students alike to demonstrate continued learning, and bolster their resume with new components that will impress employers. Micro-credentials are also sometimes called web badges, mini degrees, or micro certifications. Some of these mini-degrees are earned online, some in a classroom setting. You’ll often be asked to complete assignments, attend a lecture, present a portfolio, pass exams, or display application of knowledge in a work setting. You can earn web badge in just a few weeks, while some may take a year or more, just depending on what’s required for credential authorization.

An organization may say that micro-credentials are a perfect way for you to learn and then demonstrate professional learning in your field. This simple, educational method to help you learn can be a great part of a professional strategy for your company, and for your career. Earning micro-credentials adds to your work experience; your resume won't just say you worked at a certain company, but it will say you obtained a mini-degree or certification in a specific area that can help you stay at the top of your field.


CPR class to earn micro-credential

Competency-based learning for digital badges.

Another term frequently used with micro-credentials is competency-based learning. This means that learners are able to demonstrate what they know as a means of earning credentials. Learners are able to advance based on their demonstration of learning and completing a skill. The competencies include measurable, transferable objectives that allow students to be empowered. Assessments are meaningful, and a good professional learning experience. The students get timely support and develop and apply a broad set of skills as a result. Competency-based learning, students are able to show what they know in a specific area of focus, empowering them to enjoy learning at their own pace, and in a field they actually enjoy. Western Governors University similarly uses competency based education in their online degree programs, and many individuals who are considering micro-credentials or digital badges may also benefit from one of the WGU online degree programs.


What kind of micro-credentials can I get for my professional learning?

There’s a great range around the kind of micro-credentials you can get. You can get a micro-credential in a specific task, like front-end web development, or a more general task like effective leadership in the workplace. The most common micro-credentials are actually for teachers and give them opportunity to master very specific skills when it comes to classroom teaching. Things like creative writing for a grade level, a specific type of math like multiplication or division, and a number of other classroom elements are available for micro-credentials.

The following sites are great places to look at earning micro-credentials or web badges: Open Badges, EdX, General Assembly, Davinci Coders, Udacity, and Digital Promise.

Professional learning display

An online degree as another professional learning element.

So how is an online degree similar to micro-credentials? While micro-credentials can be a good resume booster, an online degree can be an even better way to demonstrate to employers that you are skilled in an area. A degree shows that you’ve taken extensive online courses on a subject and are certified to go down a career path. Micro-credentials and digital badges can be great to get your foot in the door in a career, and a degree can help you finish the learning to get higher pay and other opportunities in that field. Micro-credentials are also a great addition to an online degree to give you more specific knowledge in your chosen area.9 6% of employers surveyed by Online School Center said that micro-credentials would be a positive addition to a resume.  For many people who are interested in micro-credentials, an online degree is a great way to go even further in your professional learning. Online degrees also have the flexibility or education on your terms and in your timeframe. Online universities like WGU offer competency based education similar to micro-credentials, and students are able to prove their knowledge and move forward at their own pace. In some instances, a micro-credential may do the trick to demonstrate skill in an area. But in many cases, earning a degree can prove even more to an employer that you are highly knowledgeable. Utilizing the flexibility of online education to get a degree can be a great option. And together, an online degree and micro-credentials can demonstrate your specific qualifications for a job.


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