The Short-term Credentials Landscape — from newamerica.org by Monique O. Ositelu, PhD, Clare McCann, and Amy Laitinen
What We See and What Remains Unseen

Abstract

Given the rapid growth in short-term programs, and policymakers’ fast-growing interest to invest federal higher education dollars into very-short-term credentials, we explore what the research does—and does not— show us about such credentials’ utility in the labor market. With concerns about equity, our review of the literature guides us towards caution, as a strong push for short-term certificates may run the risk of reifying socioeconomic stratification.

From DSC:
I wonder…will accreditation move towards the use of crowd-sourced methods? Similar to rating one’s driver or one’s experience with a product, will microcredentials get into more reviews and recommendations from the users of various learning/training-related sites and services?

Will users of a service comment on whether the credential helped them (with a salary increase, with practical knowledge, with an expanded scope of projects at work, etc.)?

 

Microcredential programs on the rise in Canada — from by Sharon Aschaiek; with thanks to Amrit Ahluwalia for this resource out on LinkedIn
Low rates of awareness about microcredentials by prospective students and employers remains a challenge.

Excerpt:

A new report on current views about microcredentials in Canada reveals a majority of higher education institutions are keen to create these concise, competency-focused upskilling programs, and many say the COVID-19 pandemic has made them even more relevant.

Released by the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (HEQCO) earlier this month, “Making Sense of Microcredentials” reveals what this emerging training trend means from the perspectives of three key stakeholder groups: universities and colleges, prospective students and employers. The 32-page descriptive research report is based on the results of a literature review, 44 interviews (17 with postsecondary schools), and 2,362 surveys, which included 161 representatives from 105 postsecondary institutions, including 41 universities.

Along these lines, see:

Mapping Out a ‘Credential As You Go’ Movement For Higher Education — from edsurge.com by Rebecca Koenig

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

A new initiative called “Credential As You Go” aims to shift this status quo by making it easier for students and workers to earn recognition for their learning—in increments smaller than the colossal college degree.

Its goals include creating a national credentialing system designed around what the journey through higher education and job training actually looks like for many people: intermittent, nonlinear and unpredictable.

Also along the lines of keeping things brief, see:

 

Counting U.S. Postsecondary and Secondary Credentials — from Credential Engine; with thanks to Will Richardson  for this resource
February 2021

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

Learners, educators and policymakers understand that high school completion and education beyond high school are critical to thrive in the workforce. However, until recently an inventory of the number or type of secondary and postsecondary credential opportunities in the United States did not exist. This is the third annual report from Credential Engine that attempts to count all these credentials. The report identifies 967,734 unique credentials in the U.S. in 16 detailed credential categories across four types
of credential providers:

  • Postsecondary educational institutions—359,713 degrees and certificates
  • Massive open online course (MOOC) providers—9,390 course completion certificates, micro-credentials, and online degrees from foreign universities
  • Non-academic providers—549,712 badges, course completion certificates, licenses, certifications, and apprenticeships
  • Secondary schools—48,919 diplomas from public and private secondary schools

Also see:

NLET Releases “Newest Economy” Paper

In The Newest Economy: Welcome to the Credential Currency Revolution, Gordon Freedman, NLET’s president, examines the discontinuity between high schools, community colleges, career and technical education, and workforce development programs and their alignment and linkages to high demand jobs and careers. The paper suggests moving beyond the current array of offerings and labor market tools to a marketplace solution using modern technology and data analytics to link credentials (badges, certifications, degrees) to hiring outcomes.

The paper is a collaboration among NLET, Credential Engine, Southern Regional Economic Board (SREB) and GoEducate, Inc. who together are building a Credential Alliance to further the work described in the report.

Press Release
Executive Summary
Download the Report

 

Marni Baker Stein on What’s Next For Higher Education — — from gettingsmart.com by Getting Smart Staff

Excerpt:

On this episode of the Getting Smart Podcast, we’re talking with Marni Baker Stein, Provost and Chief Academic Officer at Western Governors University (WGU).

For example, with regards to skills: WGU put together a skills architecture team alongside national competency networks. They then used EMSI, a common way to describe skills, to tag them to a competency and execute dynamic audits of performance.

“Learners desperately need education to organize itself around what they need it to become.”

 

Digital Credentials: A Better Way to Capture and Communicate Learning — from gettingsmart.com by Tom Vander Ark, Rebecca Midles and Rashawn Caruthers

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

There is an invention opportunity to better credential units of learning, to open up individual learning pathways, to better communicate capabilities, and to reduce friction in talent transactions.

The pandemic is accelerating this shift to verified credentials. Enrollment in short-term credential classes increased by 70% over last year while freshman college enrollment dropped by 16%.

There are six opportunities to better capture and communicate learning.

 

The Opportunity for Personalized and Local Guidance — from gettingsmart.com by Tom Vander Ark, Rebecca Midles and Rashawn Caruthers

Excerpt:

There is a big opportunity to create tools that complement advisor efforts to help learners better understand themselves, spot and try out possible futures, make informed decisions about what’s next, and persist through challenges.

 


Which links to this article:

Another regional accreditor drops geographic limits — from educationdive.com by Hallie Busta

Dive Brief:

  • The Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) announced Monday that it will accept applications for accreditation from institutions located outside its historical territory, which is primarily the mid-Atlantic states.
  • It will also begin taking applications from international institutions seeking accreditation.
  • MSCHE is the second of the country’s seven historically regional accreditors to make such a move, the result of new federal regulations removing their geographic boundaries.

We will consider the ways that the Commission engages in its work and whether an alternative structure may be necessary to support the changing nature of accreditation, and its more modern demands. Believe it or not, our requirements and standards are also scheduled for evaluation.  We will need to begin to have conversations about the ways we can improve the language of our requirements and standards or our accreditation processes.  — source

 

‘No college degree required’: Google expands certificate program for in-demand job skills — from fastcompany.com by Lydia Dishman

Excerpt:

Google just announced that it is expanding its skills certification program to help more people land high-paying tech jobs without a college degree.

The Grow with Google Career Certificates will be available soon for in-demand jobs including Data Analyst, Project Manager, and UX designer. These jobs pay between $60,000 and $90,000, on average.

From DSC:
Does this get at what Professor Scott Galloway was talking about yesterday at the Remote Conference? That is, that Big Tech is coming for healthcare and education. Could be. 

Also see:

  • Google to launch 3 more tech certificates on Coursera — from educationdive.com by Natalie Schwartz
    Excerpt:
    The certificates — which will be in data analytics, project management and user experience design — will cost $49 a month and take three to six months to complete. Google will fund 100,000 need-based scholarships for those who take them.
 

To survive the pandemic, American colleges need a revolution — from linkedin.com by Jeff Selingo

Excerpts:

Moreover, the American higher education system is built largely for full-time students pursuing degrees that might take two or four years to finish. Unemployed workers want a new job in the next few weeks or months, not two years from now when they complete a degree. The newly unemployed also are accustomed to the cadence of regular work and can’t easily pivot to class schedules at colleges constructed for the convenience of faculty members, not students.

Higher education needs to reinvent itself for continual learning if it is going to remain relevant and expand opportunity for tens of millions of adults who find themselves unemployed in a fast-changing economy.  

 

 

Team-based content creation/delivery | We need this & other paradigm shifts to help people survive & thrive [Christian]

From DSC:
If the first wave of the Coronavirus continues — and is joined by a second wave later this year or early next year — I think a more permanent, game-changing situation is inevitable. As such, now’s the time to change the paradigms that we’ve been operating under.

It’s time to move to *a team-based approach.* To build up the set of skills an organization needs to pivot and adapt — regardless of what comes their way.

Let’s stop asking one faculty member to do it all! Consider this:

  • Would you fly in a plane that was engineered/designed/built by one person?
  • Would you drive a car that was engineered/designed/built by one person?
  • Would you go into brain surgery with only one other person in the operating room?
  • Are you, like me, amazed at the long list of people (and their specialties) who contributed to a major motion picture?!? The credits go on for several minutes — even when moving at a fast pace! Would you watch a major motion picture that was written, acted, produced, directed by — and had all of the music, special effects, and audio-related work done by — only one person? 

With the move to online learning, one person can’t do it all anymore — at least not at the level that the newer generations are coming to expect. They have grown accustomed to amazing, team-based/built content and products.

Plus, newer generations are going to know and experience much more telehealth-related services…then much more telelegal-related services. They will come to experience/expect high-quality learning-related products and services that way as well. Going forward, there are too many skillsets required by the creation and production of high-quality, online-based learning — not to mention the continued hard work of staying up-to-date on the main subject matter expertise at hand.

So if the kind of perspective continues as found in this piece — SURVEY: Students say they shouldn’t have to pay full price for online classes — then colleges and universities would do well to invest money in new Research & Development efforts, in team-based content creation, and in reimagining what online-learning could act/be like. Same for the vendors out there. And faculty members would be wise to invest the time and energy it takes to be able to teach online as well as in a face-to-face setting. Not only are they more marketable once they’ve done this, but they are then also more prepared to find their place within an uncertain future.

All of this will likely be an expensive process. Also, greater collaboration will be needed within a department (as we can’t be building a course per professor) as well as between organizations.  Perhaps the use of consortiums will increase…I’m not sure.

Perhaps a new platform will develop — similar to what’s contained in this vision. Such a platform will feature content that was designed and built by a team. Such a learning-related platform will offer streams of highly-relevant content — while providing continuous, affordable, up-to-date, convenient, and very well done means of staying marketable/employed. 

We will likely be seeing this vision come to reality in the future.

For another paradigm shift, accreditation bodies/practices are going to have to also change, adapt, pivot, and help innovative ideas come to fruition. But that’s another posting for another day.

 

RESEARCH REPORT: Shaping the Future of Post-Secondary Education — from cherrytree.com; with thanks to Ryan Craig for this resource
A Time of Transformation in Post-Secondary Education and the American Workforce.

Excerpts:
The objective of this paper is to:

  1. Analyze the current “forever changed” moment for both the post-secondary sector and American workforce; and
  2. Provide insights and ideas for post-secondary education leaders, employers, policymakers and investors based on my analysis.


First and foremost, only growth mindsets will work in this environment.

Online programs will continue to grow.

Higher education institutions must permanently reduce their fixed costs.

Accreditors are going to have to become more tolerant of new models. Accreditors were created to provide self-regulation and a system of peer-review that leads to continuous improvement. Along the way, they were asked to become arbiters of quality in higher education as a condition for federal financial aid eligibility. The structural incentives for accreditors create conditions for them to avoid risk and be conservative. This will not serve society well in the months and years ahead. They will have to embrace innovation or alternatives to traditional accreditation needed.

Faster, less expensive programs with easily understood learning outcomes which are directly tied to employment will be in increasing demand.


From DSC:
Some graphics come to mind — yet again.

Learning from the living class room

 

But this time, those folks who haven’t been listening or who thought *they* were in control all along, are finally being forced to wake up and look around at the world and the new landscapes. They are finally coming to the realization that they are not in control.

Innovation. Speed. Responsiveness. Quick decision making. These things are tough for many institutions of traditional higher education; there will have to be massive cultural changes. Bringing down the cost of obtaining a degree has to occur...or the backlash against higher ed will continue to build momentum. Consider just a couple of recent lawsuits.

Several new lawsuits filed recently against institutions of higher education

 

From DSC:
On the positive side…

What I appreciate about ‘s article is that it’s asking us to think about future scenarios in regards to higher education. Then, it’s proposing some potential action steps to take now to address those potential scenarios if they come to fruition. It isn’t looking at the hood when we’re traveling 180 mph. Rather, it’s looking out into the horizon to see what’s coming down the pike. 

6 Steps to Prepare for an Online Fall Semester — from chronicle.com b

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

Plan for a multiyear impact. If colleges are forced to maintain online-only instruction in the fall and to defer reopening their campuses to in-person instruction to January 2021, the impact will be felt for years. College leaders should start thinking now about how to manage and potentially adjust spring-2021 (and beyond) course offerings, course sequencing, and degree requirements to avoid saddling students with graduation delays and the accompanying direct and indirect financial costs. In addition, colleges should anticipate a smaller-than-normal entering first-year class in fall 2020 (and thus a larger-than-normal enrollment a year later) and devise strategies to help mitigate the resulting stresses on admission rates and classroom and dorm capacity for first-year students entering in fall 2021 and beyond.

If instruction remains online-only in the fall, colleges won’t be able to afford that sort of inefficiency. College departments should start now to identify opportunities for collaborations that would draw on the collective wisdom and labor of faculty members from multiple institutions who are teaching similar courses. This would lessen the burden of migrating teaching materials and techniques to an online format.

From DSC:
I’ve often wondered about the place of consortiums within higher ed…i.e., pooling resources. Will the impacts of the Coronavirus change this area of higher ed? Not sure. Perhaps.

On the negative side…

I take issue with some of John’s perspectives, which are so common amongst the writers and academics out there. For example:

Conversely, an entire generation of current college students is now learning that it can be pretty boring to be one of several hundred people simultaneously watching a Zoom lecture.

You know what? I did that very same thingover and over again — at Northwestern University (NU), but in a face-to-face format. And quite frankly, it’s a better view on videoconferencing. It’s far more close up, more intimate online. I agree it’s a different experience. But our auditoriums were large and having 100-200+ students in a classroom was common. There was no interaction amongst the students. There were no breakout groups. The faculty members didn’t know most of our names and I highly doubt that the well-paid researchers at Northwestern — who were never taught how to teach in the first place nor did they or NU regard the practice of teaching and learning highly anyway — gave a rat’s ass about body language. Reading the confusion in the auditorium? Really? I highly doubt it. And those TA’s that we paid good money for? Most likely, they were never taught how to teach either. The well-paid researchers often offloaded much of the teaching responsibilities onto the teacher assistants’ backs. 

Bottom line:
Face-to-face learning is getting waaaay more credit than it sometimes deserves — though sometimes it IS warranted. And online-based learning — especially when it’s done right — isn’t getting nearly enough credit. 


Addendum: Another example of practicing futures thinking in higher ed:

 

MIT Starts University Group to Build New Digital Credential System — from edsurge.com by Jeff Young

Excerpt:

When a college goes out of business, all of its alumni can suddenly find themselves in an unexpected dilemma: How can graduates prove they actually earned their degrees when no one is left at the institution to send academic transcripts to prospective employers or graduate schools?

That scenario is one reason that a group of nine universities, led by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, today announced a collaboration to build a system that would let institutions issue digital diplomas and credentials in a way that can be verified without needing to check with a human registrar. The idea is to encourage widespread use of digital credentials across all kinds of academic institutions, and even at more informal places of learning, so that students end up taking ownership of how to communicate their learning to employers.

 

The Growing Profile of Non-Degree Credentials: Diving Deeper into ‘Education Credentials Come of Age’ — from evolllution.com by Sean Gallagher
Higher education is entering a “golden age” of lifelong learning and that will mean a spike in demand for credentials. If postsecondary institutions want to compete in a crowded market, they need to change fast.

Excerpts (emphasis DSC):

One of the first levels of opportunity is simply embedding the skills that are demanded in the job market into educational programs. Education certainly has its own merits independent of professional outcomes. But critics of higher education who suggest graduates aren’t prepared for the workforce have a point in terms of the opportunity for greater job market alignment, and less of an “ivory tower” mentality at many institutions. Importantly, this does not mean that there isn’t value in the liberal arts and in broader ways of thinking—problem solving, leadership, critical thinking, analysis, and writing are among the very top skills demanded by employers across all educational levels. These are foundational and independent of technical skills.

The second opportunity is building an ecosystem for better documentation and sharing of skills—in a sense what investor Ryan Craig has termed a “competency marketplace.” Employers’ reliance on college degrees as relatively blunt signals of skill and ability is partly driven by the fact that there aren’t many strong alternatives. Technology—and the growth of platforms like LinkedIn, ePortfolios and online assessments—is changing the game. One example is digital badges, which were originally often positioned as substitutes to degrees or certificates.

Instead, I believe digital badges are a supplement to degrees and we’re increasingly seeing badges—short microcredentials that discretely and digitally document competency—woven into degree programs, from the community college to the graduate degree level.

 

However, it is becoming increasingly clear that the market is demanding more “agile” and shorter-form approaches to education. Many institutions are making this a strategic priority, especially as we read the evolution of trends in the global job market and soon enter the 2020s.

Online education—which in all its forms continues to slowly and steadily grow its market share in terms of all higher ed instruction—is certainly an enabler of this vision, given what we know about pedagogy and the ability to digitally document outcomes.

 

In addition, 64 percent of the HR leaders we surveyed said that the need for ongoing lifelong learning will demand higher levels of education and more credentials in the future.

 

Along these lines of online-based collaboration and learning,
go to the 34 minute mark of this video:

 

From DSC:
The various pieces are coming together to build the next generation learning platform. Although no one has all of the pieces yet, the needs/trends/signals are definitely there.

 

Daniel Christian-- Learning from the Living Class Room

 

Addendums on 4/20/19:

 

 

Christensen Institute: Now’s the time for a makeover in college accreditation — from campustechnology.com by Dian Schaffhauser

Excerpt:

As authors Alana Dunagan and Michael Horn noted, “It is impossible to know what innovative models can or will be accredited, as similar initiatives are treated differently by different accreditors — even by the same accreditor at different points in time. Institutions that are able to innovate are those blessed by geography — a cooperative, forward-thinking regional accreditor — as well as finances.” Others believe they can’t afford to innovate or are in the position of facing an accreditation process that dings them when experimental programs fail and are shut down.

 

 

Top Education Trend of 2018: Active Learning Spaces — from gettingsmart.com by Tom Vander Ark

Excerpts:

The top learning trend in K-12 learning in 2018 was active learning spaces–from double classrooms in old buildings from California’s Central Valley to the west tip of Texas in El Paso and multiage pods in new spaces from Redwood City to Charlottesville.

The flexible spaces facilitate project-based learning and competency-based progressions. Students move from project teams to skill groups to activity centers building skills and developing agency and self-management.

Competency: The Trend to Watch in 2019
A year from now people will be talking about competency frameworks–how learners progress as they demonstrate mastery.

The shift from marking time to measuring learning will be generational in length, but our landscape analysis suggests several interesting signs of progress that will be evident in 2019:

  • In the most interesting merger of the year, LRNG, the leading youth badging platform, joined forces with SNHU, the leading online university. Look for badges capturing in and out of school learning that stack into college credit.
  • More schools, like Purdue Polytech, will embrace project-based learning and competency-based progressions with support from XQ, NGLC funds, and NewSchools Venture Fund.
  • More platform partnerships where districts/networks are working in development cycles with platform providers (e.g. Brooklyn LAB and Cortex, Purdue Polytech and Course Networking, Lindsay USD and Empower).
  • More artificial intelligence is showing up in learning platforms improving personalization, formative feedback, and student scheduling.
  • More demand for interoperability will be evident as a result of efforts like Project Unicorn.

It’s going to be a good new year. Find a couch or pull up a bar stool–your choice. Work on a badge or microcredential, it’s likely to be more widely recognized next year.

 

Also see:

Brickstuff is the perfect way to light up Lego builds. This starter kit includes everything you need to get started. No electronics or soldering knowledge is necessary to set up these lights and start using them right away. Each flexible 2-LED Light Strip has a self-adhesive backing, which allows easy mounting to almost any surface. The strips are flexible, allowing you to mount them even on curved surfaces. This kit also includes a battery pack, so you can be up and running right away. This kit is ready to use with any microcontroller or robotics project too.

 

To higher ed: When the race track is going 180mph, you can’t walk or jog onto the track. [Christian]

From DSC:
When the race track is going 180mph, you can’t walk or jog onto the track.  What do I mean by that? 

Consider this quote from an article that Jeanne Meister wrote out at Forbes entitled, “The Future of Work: Three New HR Roles in the Age of Artificial Intelligence:”*

This emphasis on learning new skills in the age of AI is reinforced by the most recent report on the future of work from McKinsey which suggests that as many as 375 million workers around the world may need to switch occupational categories and learn new skills because approximately 60% of jobs will have least one-third of their work activities able to be automated.

Go scan the job openings and you will likely see many that have to do with technology, and increasingly, with emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, deep learning, machine learning, virtual reality, augmented reality, mixed reality, big data, cloud-based services, robotics, automation, bots, algorithm development, blockchain, and more. 

 

From Robert Half’s 2019 Technology Salary Guide 

 

 

How many of us have those kinds of skills? Did we get that training in the community colleges, colleges, and universities that we went to? Highly unlikely — even if you graduated from one of those institutions only 5-10 years ago. And many of those institutions are often moving at the pace of a nice leisurely walk, with some moving at a jog, even fewer are sprinting. But all of them are now being asked to enter a race track that’s moving at 180mph. Higher ed — and society at large — are not used to moving at this pace. 

This is why I think that higher education and its regional accrediting organizations are going to either need to up their game hugely — and go through a paradigm shift in the required thinking/programming/curricula/level of responsiveness — or watch while alternatives to institutions of traditional higher education increasingly attract their learners away from them.

This is also, why I think we’ll see an online-based, next generation learning platform take place. It will be much more nimble — able to offer up-to-the minute, in-demand skills and competencies. 

 

 

The below graphic is from:
Jobs lost, jobs gained: What the future of work will mean for jobs, skills, and wages

 

 

 


 

* Three New HR Roles To Create Compelling Employee Experiences
These new HR roles include:

  1. IBM: Vice President, Data, AI & Offering Strategy, HR
  2. Kraft Heinz Senior Vice President Global HR, Performance and IT
  3. SunTrust Senior Vice President Employee Wellbeing & Benefits

What do these three roles have in common? All have been created in the last three years and acknowledge the growing importance of a company’s commitment to create a compelling employee experience by using data, research, and predictive analytics to better serve the needs of employees. In each case, the employee assuming the new role also brought a new set of skills and capabilities into HR. And importantly, the new roles created in HR address a common vision: create a compelling employee experience that mirrors a company’s customer experience.

 


 

An excerpt from McKinsey Global Institute | Notes from the Frontier | Modeling the Impact of AI on the World Economy 

Workers.
A widening gap may also unfold at the level of individual workers. Demand for jobs could shift away from repetitive tasks toward those that are socially and cognitively driven and others that involve activities that are hard to automate and require more digital skills.12 Job profiles characterized by repetitive tasks and activities that require low digital skills may experience the largest decline as a share of total employment, from some 40 percent to near 30 percent by 2030. The largest gain in share may be in nonrepetitive activities and those that require high digital skills, rising from some 40 percent to more than 50 percent. These shifts in employment would have an impact on wages. We simulate that around 13 percent of the total wage bill could shift to categories requiring nonrepetitive and high digital skills, where incomes could rise, while workers in the repetitive and low digital skills categories may potentially experience stagnation or even a cut in their wages. The share of the total wage bill of the latter group could decline from 33 to 20 percent.13 Direct consequences of this widening gap in employment and wages would be an intensifying war for people, particularly those skilled in developing and utilizing AI tools, and structural excess supply for a still relatively high portion of people lacking the digital and cognitive skills necessary to work with machines.

 


 

 
© 2021 | Daniel Christian