Why think about micro-credentials in education? Micro-credentials verify, validate, and declare that specific skills have been achieved. This article addresses creating stackable awards for micro-credentials within Brightspace for use in an existing degree program; continuing education; or professional development to help ensure learner success.
Many educational institutions are beginning to think about digital transformation (Dx). Educause posted an interesting article in August 2020, about Dx and Grand Challenges.
Grand Challenges: Educause Article August 2020
A specific point that caught my attention helped me to realize how Brightspace can offer solutions for micro-credentials:
“Digital transformation occurs when an institution begins to use digital technologies and affordances to change its business model and to develop new sources of value. Online learning is not digital transformation, but using online learning to offer nano- and micro-credentials to new populations of learners—thus creating new lines of business and income streams, which might offset declining enrollments of traditional students—is an example of digital transformation.”
My esteemed colleague Jeff Salin wrote a couple of articles on the Brightspace Community discussing the skills gap with micro-credentialing. I encourage you to explore these posts that discuss challenges that micro-credentials can solve.
Addressing the Skills Gap: Micro-Credentialing Part 1
Addressing the Skills Gap: Micro-Credentialing Part 2
As a Sr Solutions Engineer working with existing clients, I’ve been asked many times how to use Brightspace Awards across courses to allow learners to achieve not only a credential from a course, but a micro-credential by completing multiple courses.
Let’s look at a couple examples on how you can accomplish this at your institution. This is possible using a couple tools you have access to within the Brightspace Core platform.
- Competency tool
- Assessment tool (quiz, assignment, etc.)
- Release Conditions
- Awards tool (badges and/or certificates)
Awards can be created and issued to learners within a course. Check out this link to familiarize yourself with the Awards tool.
More importantly awards can be created and issued based on completion of several courses. In order to have a certificate or award issued for completing separate courses, a competency structure must be created at the Org level and shared down. Learning objectives are also used and aligned to activities in the courses. Otherwise a certificate or award cannot be auto issued on completion of multi courses as courses are separate Org units. (in order to properly copy the structure to other courses, the competency at the Org level should be shared to the course templates).
The image below depicts ability to stack awards based on learning objectives achieved in separate courses. The final award is issued when all learning objectives within the competency in all courses are achieved.
Figure: A flowchart showing how to provide a microcredential.
To configure this experience in a site (Admin role)
Create your courses and create competency at the Org Level and share (especially to course template where courses exist):
Example: Build a competency and add learning objectives as children to the competency: (below there are 3 learning objective children to the parent competency)
Figure: An example of a Competency Structure.
Now in your courses build in activities and align to learning objectives.
Figure: Instructor view image of content modules and topics.
For this example, I’ve used a quiz to assess the learner, aligned a learning objective to the quiz: (once you add the objective, you’ll need to “add assessment” so the learning objective is being evaluated.
Figure: The Objectives drop-down menu showing the option Add Assessment.
Figure: The Objectives tab.
Next, build an award in each of the courses, that can be earned by achieving the learning objective using the release conditions:
Figure: An example of a badge in Awards.
Finally build an Award at the Org level and set conditions to learning objectives that are aligned to the competency at the Org Level: (the example below has 3 learning objectives attached, each are achieved by one of the courses and all objectives from each course must be achieved in order to achieve the overall competency award at Org level)
Figure: An example of a certificate in Awards.
Now you are setup to enable stackable awards and offer these as micro-credentials! In the images below the learner, Vera Gomez has completed the courses and activities and has received notification and pop-ups of her badges (from each course) and the final certificate (only achieved by achieving the learning objectives in all 3 courses aligned with learning objectives and aligned to the Org level competency):
Figure: The My Learning widget displaying a user's progress.
Figure: The Notifications menu showing a user's earned awards.
Vera can see all the awards she has earned from her My Awards link: (the 3 badges from the 3 courses, and the certificate for completing and achieving the learning objectives from all 3 courses):
Figure: The My Awards tab showing a user's badges and certificates.
Another example of using the Awards tool to issue micro-credentials is to have the learner complete multiple quizzes with the same learning objective. In the example images below, we developed a couple courses where there were 7 quizzes in each course. The learner would need to complete all 7 quizzes in each course in order to satisfy the Learning Objective. In this case to simplify we created 1 learning objective and applied the same learning objective to each quiz.
- Created awards at both the Course level for each course and at Org level. The course level awards are achieved when completing all the quizzes in the course. For example, all quizzes in Leadership I are tied to completion of 80% or higher and aligned to the Learning Objective LO1 LShip1. Course II and III are aligned to the Learning Objectives LO LShip2 and LShip3 respectively.
Figure: An example of an award.
2. Set each quiz in the course to align to the respective LO:
Figure: The Objectives tab displaying a partially-completed learning objective.
Progress can be checked (learning objective and award not satisfied until all quizzes completed). Objectives can be partially completed.
Figure: An example of a completed learning objective.
Figure: Instructor view of learner progress, displaying all activities completed, thus achieving the objective.
Created award at Org level, aligned to the Competency. The competency is achieved when all Learning Objectives have been achieved. Each course has 1 Learning Objective tied to 7 quizzes. So, for example, this award is earned when students complete 21 quizzes (all 7 from each of the 3 courses)
Figure: Instructor creating award based on achieving competency
Earns badge for completing the 7 quizzes in Course:
Figure: Learner view of award achieved with details and evidence.
Earns Org level badge for completing all 3 courses and achieving the full competency.
Figure: Learner view earning Institutional award based on completing 3 courses and achieving full competency.
Either of these examples will help you set up your site to allow learners to earn micro-credentials that verify, validate, and declare that specific skills have been achieved.