The Rise of Micro-credentialing.

7 March 2023 by Catalyst

According to the University World News, over the past decade, enrolments in full university degree programs have steadily declined in the United States while micro-credential form of learning (certificates, badges and licences) is on the rise. (A. Caballero, S. Gallagher, H. Shapiro and H. Zanville, 2022)

The authors argue that the lack of equal access to education, drop out rates and the need for greater student engagement and retention are some of the primary drivers behind this trend. Another is the widening gap between the traditional higher education degrees and the skills required for individuals to remain competent in today’s digital work world.

In Australia, we’ve seen similar trends, especially since the start of the pandemic. For companies, keeping up to speed with various skill shortages has become more difficult as border closures have slowed down skilled worker migration. For education providers, the sharp decline in international enrolments is not good news either.

Education and training is often an expensive and time consuming exercise for both individuals and businesses. The need for proper digital infrastructure and quicker, more affordable ways to upskill talent is clear. Micro-credentialing is an excellent solution for both worlds – education providers and consumers.

Micro-credentials are generally more accessible, as many short courses are offered in online or hybrid modes so this way of studying is more flexible and easier to fit around businesses’ and individuals’ existing commitments. For employers, this also presents an opportunity to be more inclusive and cost efficient with their staff training.

For example, if you want to ensure all your employees undertake training in effective business writing, you can organise it as one simple task by instantly enrolling them with an education provider who offers the course online. Your employees can then complete the course by a given deadline from the comfort of their own desks; or as a group to make it a more collaborative and social experience. Being a cost effective training option, you can also accommodate more staff requests for particular training in each financial year.

For education providers, the smaller units are easier to roll out and manage / update, and more importantly, can provide another solid income stream.

However, for education providers this may present certain challenges as well. Short courses may be easier to produce and change as required but at the end of the day, it is another business unit to maintain behind the scenes.

Those who already have a secure and flexible LMS System to build on and/or some e-commerce functionality in place, are in a good starting place. The next question to ask yourself is whether you are making the best use of all possible automations and integrations between your Student Management or Enrolment system, your LMS and a publicly accessible shopping cart; when course sales, purchasing options (group enrolments, discounts, etc) and enrolments happen simultaneously. As such, the need for unnecessary administrative work and resources behind the scenes is removed which makes for a more effective process.

We are definitely seeing more and more education providers, from major universities to vocational training organisations and professional associations turning to short courses and micro-credentialing. It seems pretty clear that the demand for this mode of learning is here to stay. However, sometimes digital security is forgotten in the rush to launch a new initiative – another very important thing to consider.

Do you have the right security practices in place to ensure your systems and processes are secure?

What does all this change mean for incumbent providers? As opportunities open for new small and mid-size private providers in the education sector, the more established and traditional players may need to adjust their strategies and course offerings to keep up with increased competition and market demands.

“The massive national and international investment in this mode of education signals a shift in how institutions and students perceive the future of lifelong learning.”

(R. Demarchellier, The Conversation, 2021)

With increasing demand for e-commerce solutions among our existing Moodle clients, including major universities, Catalyst IT have partnered with Course Merchant – a provider we trust to deliver seamless integrations between an e-commerce function and our clients’ LMS.

Like Catalyst, Course Merchant is ISO/IEC27001 certified and are known for delivering excellent service. Integrating with over 40 of the most commonly used payment gateways and offering endless purchase options as well as full design match to clients’ sites, selling courses online has never been easier.

Micro-credentialing is here to stay! So, if you’re an existing Moodle user and wish to sell more courses online, reach out to us for a quote.