Micro-Credentials, Nano Degrees, and Digital Badges: New Credentials for Global Higher Education

Micro-Credentials, Nano Degrees, and Digital Badges: New Credentials for Global Higher Education

Pamela A. Lemoine (Columbus State University, Columbus, GA, USA) and Michael D. Richardson (Department of Educational Leadership, Columbus State University, Columbus, GA, USA)
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 14
DOI: 10.4018/ijtem.2015010104
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Abstract

Digital technologies offer myriad access to learning; entree to education is still a necessity for economic success, with access increasingly promoted to those wishing access to furthering their skills (; Pascarella & Terezini, 2005; ). As new technologies and traditional education paradigms have collided, credentialing paradigms have also needed review (; European Association for International Education (EAIA), 2012, 2015; ). Traditionally, academic credentials and professional certifications were awarded as students emerged from education and vocational/technical programs (Ledesma, 2012). By 2015, global higher education institutions were considering validation of knowledge from online learning coursework in one single common, broad-based credentialing platform (EAIA, 2012, 2015). Accreditation for online learning or Massive Open Online Coursework provides challenges for universities to accept and acknowledge learning as credited coursework; awarding credit for different types of educational coursework disrupts higher education's traditional, formal educational processes for financial and educational accountability (; ; ). The challenge for post-secondary institutions is to look at online learning opportunities through a lens of reform and innovation and equally, as an opportunity to increase higher education participation. (; ).
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Digital Learning

As technological-based learning has flourished, evolving digital mediums are providing learners with 21st Century workforce ready skill sets not traditionally offered in college and university traditional education certification programs (Graves, 2013; LeBlanc, 2012; Mintz, 2013). Marketing online personal learning has opened consideration for the need for different types of credentialing, which in have been viewed in the past as inferior to standardized credentials from universities and colleges (Carey, 2012a, 2013a, 2013b; Christensen, Horn, Caldera, & Soares, 2011; Helmsley-Brown & Lowrie, 2010; Maney 2012a, 2012b).

Christensen and Eyring (2011) refer to online learning as a “disruptive innovation”, “ a process that allows as simple, affordable, and accessible product to replace a product that is complex, expensive, and inaccessible, even if the initial quality of the new product is inferior” (Casares, Dickson, Hannigan, Hinton, & Phelps, 2013, p. 11). Certifications have been traditionally tied to credentialing authorities for recognition as degrees or academic credentials, which were then, accepted as formal qualifications for professional practice (Goliogoski, 2012; Halavais, 2012). E-Learning 2.0 expertise acquired from virtual class participation does not fit “the constraints of the brick and mortar campus…without the aid of an educator being present” (Dougherty, 2012, p. 3).

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