Higher education and skills. UPSC NOTE

 Micro-credentials and its  Benefits

  • Micro credentials are short-duration learning activities with proof of specific learning outcomes that are validated through a standard and reliable assessment process

  • Micro-credentials are offered in online, physical, or hybrid modes at various levels, such as beginning, intermediate, or advanced. 

  • In contrast to micro-credentials, students must study for several years to obtain macro-credentials such as undergraduate degrees. 

  • In addition, micro-credentials can also be designed for life-long learners, i.e., working professionals who may not be able to attend a formal degree programme in a university.

  • Micro-credentials, as a path to life-long learning, are still developing

  • An obvious sign of this is how assorted terminologies, such as digital badges, micro-master degrees, nano-degrees, and online certificates, are being used for this short-duration learning.

  • Many universities in Australia, Canada, Europe, the United Kingdom and the United States are also engaged in providing micro-credentials.

  • More organisations are expected to join this growing club.

  • In formal degree programmes conducted by HEIs, ‘credits’ are used to assign value to different forms of learning — lectures, tutorials, laboratory work, seminars, projects, internships and so on. 

  • In such macro-credential programmes, courses are generally designed to be of three to four credits, and one credit corresponds to one hour of lecture or two hours of lab work per week. 

  • Therefore, in conventional educational programmes, ‘credit’ is associated with the time spent in a classroom or a lab.

  • However, in micro-credentials, the trend is to associate the credit with the notional hours spent acquiring a defined minimum competency.

  • As this makes micro-credential credits consistent with those in conventional higher education, they can be universally validated and recognised.

  • Regardless of this, what is required is clear quality benchmarking and a regulation of these micro-credentials to prevent significant divergences in learning outcomes and facilitate their easy endorsement in the workplace and higher education institutes.

  • India now has a National Credit Framework (NCrF), which spells out learning outcomes and corresponding credits a student should accumulate in order to progress to the next level of learning

  • One of the primary benefits of micro-credentials is that they are portable and stackable on a digital platform such as the Academic Bank of Credits (ABC).

Role of Higher Education Institutes and Employment

  • To ensure that micro-credentials denote a genuine acquisition of skills, they must be aligned with higher education standards in the areas of delivery, assessment, grading and the awarding of qualifications

  • Our capacity to devise reliable assessment methods is critical in fostering trust in micro-credentials, and in this task, the association of HEIs is of great importance.

  • For students in Indian universities, micro-credentials can open up opportunities in integrating diverse skills as a part of their regular education.

  • They can store the credits on the ABC platform for redemption later or to get a separate certificate or diploma in addition to their macro-credentials. 

  • Depending on the duration and learning outcomes, micro-credentials can be given as between one to five credit short modules

  • Learners can accumulate multiple short modules to earn the total number of credits required to obtain a degree as specified in the NCrF.

  • As the NCrF is being implemented across the country, it is the right time for Indian HEIs to plan to develop micro-credentials in partnership with industry. 

  • The NCrF offers an opportunity for HEIs to examine the development of credit-based micro-credentials as a part of regular degree programmes. 

  • Broader deliberations must take place on the potential impact of micro-credentials and the additional value they can create in the tertiary education system.

  • With the focus of the National Education Policy 2020 on providing skilled education to students right from school to the higher levels.

  • Employers looking for young employees with adequate skills and competencies to boost productivity, learners are increasingly viewing

micro-credentials as a value-added advantage.

  • Therefore, millions of students could be looking to earn micro-credentials either as stand-alone credits or as a component of their standard higher education.

  • Indian HEIs must serve as agents of transformation and consider introducing micro-credentials a vital element of their strategic institutional objectives. 

  • Further to this, regulators and HEIs must work towards harmonising micro-credentials with existing academic programmes by coming up with clear validation metrics.



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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: Higher education and skills. UPSC NOTE
Higher education and skills. UPSC NOTE
Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam
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