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Ten Trend: Micro-credentialing



What’s it about?

Ten Trends wedge2If you were ever a Boy Scout, Brownie or Girl Guide you’ll no doubt remember the joy of accumulating badges for adventures completed and skills achieved - recognisable to all. The same thing applies if you’ve ever played video games and collected digital rewards and badges for skills or levels achieved. Now we see how open badges are providing a digital record of professional learning for educators as well as students.



Micro-credentials is one of the hot rising trends in education, that takes the idea that learners can engage in smaller ‘chunks’ of learning to demonstrate a specific skill, knowledge, competency or achievement; and attain badges certifying micro-credentials (with supporting evidence and criteria), which then becomes part of a digital portfolio. The very definition of 'micro' being smaller than the traditional unit of assessment.


Micro-credentials are, at their core, certifications offered for taking courses and developing skills in specific areas. Variously called badges, nano-credentials or nano-degrees, these credentials promise recognition for workforce upskilling and reskilling. CORE Education Ten Trends 2019: Micro-credentialing and Ten Trends 2019, PDF (P30).

Micro-credentials are a valuable way to motivate and personalise learning for both learners and teachers, while capturing this in a credible and reliable way. This becomes motivating because: 

  • micro-credentials are directly aligned with an area of interest of the learner and, 
  • they provide immediate recognition for that chunk of learning, rather than having to wait until it is recognised within the larger body of learning at assessment time.    

What’s driving the change?

Micro-credentialing is a nod towards a learner-centric/learner agency approach in education, moving away from large ‘packages’ of learning and qualifications to recognising a variety of skills, knowledge and competencies across different learning areas.

BackpackIt is influenced by the following factors:

  • As part of an individual learning plan, learners seek recognition for ‘bits’ of learning within the context of larger learning experiences
  • It is linked to a portfolio or backpack of badges that can be shared digitally 
  • Aggregation of micro-credentials can be transferred between organisations
  • Data behind the badge provides credibility and authenticity 
  • Open Badges provide a common system for issuing, collecting, and displaying digital badges across various sources

Shifts in thinking towards gamification in education, also link to the learning theories about autonomous, self determination by effectively using external motivators (rewards, recognition) to drive intrinsic motivation.

What examples can we see?

Global trends show micro-credentials are becoming more widely used across tertiary, business, and other education providers, such as courses being offered through Coursera and Udacity. For more examples, see CORE Education Ten Trends 2019, Micro-credentialing and Ten Trends 2019, PDF P32. NZQA has recently launched a system in the tertiary sector where bite-sized credits, smaller than qualifications and with a focus on skill development opportunities, can be achieved over a range of subjects (NZQA Micro-credentials system launched).


In this video from Ormiston Junior College, kiako and ākonga talk about the value of digital badging that takes a nod to gamification, while linking closely to best practice in learning. Their curriculum has been organised and defined as a series of 'micro-credentials' enabling learners to become fully engaged in the learning task, while considering how the artefacts and experiences they have documented may be used as evidence  to ‘pitch’ for digital badges. This has resulted in students gaining day-to-day skills to enable them to be successful within and beyond school.

Do any of the messages in the Ormiston Junior College example speak to you in your context? Are there ways you could experiment with digital badging recognising ‘bits’ of formal and informal learning in your localised context? What could be barriers and/or enablers to these ideas? 


Can you see micro-credentialing and digital badging working for your teacher/kaiako registration, appraisal and e-portfolios? We’d love to hear your ideas. Simple join the CORE Ten Trends group to contribute your ideas below.

More resources see see CORE Education Ten Trends 2019, Micro-credentialing and Ten Trends 2019, PDF P33.

Gamification and badging


Image source: Flickr DocChewbacca Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)  

I see Micro-credentialing relating well to Real time Reporting and Understanding Success trends. 

I recently had a conversation with a colleague around what Ormiston Junior College is doing and their gamified approach to learning. We started asking the question if any other schools had developed a similar approach and what platform they are using? Is there something already out there that can be picked up and altered to suit the schools localised curriculum.

I started a bit of search after this conversation and I've stumbled across ClassCraft https://www.classcraft.com/

So far I've created a class and I'm exploring the all the possibilities.

  • I have the option of building a demo class alongside my own class so I can test out features etc
  • I can build my class around a particular focus (social emotional learning, positive behaviour)
  • Personalise quests with your own curriculum. Create quests that are story driven learning adventures. What I like here is as you are creating the learning quests you have an option of building a story as they progress the learning. You can set a task (either online or not), assign this task (for XP points), create a discussion forum for individuals and teams, Even if its not an assignment you can still reward XP.
  • Formative assessment appears in the form of what is called 'Boss Battles' (I need to explore this feature more)
  • Teacher can see real time data with insights into student motivation
  • There is also an option for you to use lessons/quests already created

I would love to know if anyone is using this in their class or what other platforms are you using with a micro-credentialing approach?

By Katrina Laurie