27 June 2022
The importance of unique learning artefacts and portfolios in micro-credential courses
Head of Learning Services South-East Asia (SEA), OpenLearning
The shift of focus from the recognition of conventional qualifications to micro-credentials has emerged as a trend. As a consequence, one of the current challenges for education policies and systems is to provide learners with the option to accumulate meaningful, skills-focused digital credentials in order to meet today’s workforce requirements.
Nonetheless, the question remains whether these digital credentials are credible enough for employers to hire talent based on the competencies that they claim to have accumulated through micro-credential courses. The same goes for an institution granting exemption of credits based on such credentials.
Solving issues with credibility
Often, employers or institutions do not have a clear picture of what learners are actually able to do just by looking at their digital badges, certificates and final grades. Employers would additionally request to view samples of work, while institutions would require a portfolio that shows evidence of accumulated skills. In Malaysia, learners who register for entry into a formal qualification via the Accredited Prior Experiential Learning (APEL) route would be required to do the same.
Portfolios are a fantastic opportunity for learners to showcase learning artefacts and achievements that truly reflect their skills, personal development, and capabilities for prospective employers. For education providers, they are also a valuable way to empower learners to demonstrate their skills and competencies. At its best, a portfolio has the huge potential to display learners’ higher-order thinking skills, problem solving and creativity beyond the intended course outcomes.
An e-portfolio provides a promising approach as a transparent mechanism for validating the skills and competencies that learners have acquired. Learners are able to enhance their visibility and employability by sharing a link to their portfolio with potential employers, institutions or on social media and CVs.
Successful implementation of e-portfolios
Micro-credential courses need to be re-engineered in order to implement e-portfolios as a tool for recognising prior learning. Successful implementation depends on curriculum as well as learning experience design.
- Curriculum - continuously innovate the curriculum to ensure that the knowledge and skills being taught meet the needs of the industry, by identifying skills gaps and embedding employability skills. Industry partners may be invited to provide input in terms of skills gaps and what they would look for when hiring talent in their respective fields.
- Learning experience design - this is the experience that learners will go through to complete micro-credential courses. Give learners enough opportunities to demonstrate their unique skills and capabilities. Recognise their work and encourage them to share it with others, thus enhancing the visibility of learners’ achievements.
Designing learning experiences that create unique learning artefacts
It is important for education providers to recognise that learners will not be able to produce unique learning evidence by passively watching videos and reading articles. Instead, courses need to be designed in a way that enables learners to be active and engaged.
Beyond meeting the intended learning outcomes, micro-credential courses can be designed to stimulate and motivate learners; to make them curious, to excite them and get them working with other learners. Socially and individually constructive activities such as these provide opportunities for interaction, collaboration and questions.
The key is to use an online learning platform or e-portfolio tool that automatically captures and showcases these constructive experiences as artefacts. Learners will not only be generating exciting e-portfolios but also get to focus on practising the soft skills required for industry 4.0.
Personalisation and experiential learning are key for learners to produce unique learning evidence. When designing learning activities, aim for activities and tasks that:
- encourage self-expression
- require open-ended contribution by learners
- invite learners to apply the concept learnt in personally meaningful ways
- enable learners to reflect on their learning.
These kinds of activities give learners the opportunity to stand out by capturing evidence of their individual learning within their portfolios. Hence, the portfolio is not only a showcase of the knowledge gained but also the unique experience of each learner.