Do you have questions about micro-credentials and digital badges?


Micro Credentials 2

Further thoughts on micro-credentials and digital badges

A while back, NZQA were looking for consultation on micro-credentials. I wrote about my views here. These views haven’t changed drastically.

But they have continued to evolve and everywhere I go people seem to want to talk about micro-credentials.

Here are a few further thoughts.

What’s the difference between digital badges and micro-credentials?

At the moment I kinda use digital badges and micro-credentials in more or less the same way.

I see a badge as one element, perhaps of a series, that might go into a micro-credential. For me, a micro-credential is a kind of meta-badge that you get on completing the requisite badges.

Imagine a coffee card that gets stamped each time you get a coffee. And then when the card is full, you get the reward.

That’s how I use the words badges and micro-credentials.

What are the rules for badging and using micro-credentials?

One thing seems clear to me at the moment. And this is that micro-credentialing and digital badges are currently the wild west and people are still making up the rules.

In Aotearoa New Zealand, the agency that handles quality assurance around qualifications – the NZQA – is likely to make up their own rules soon.

Others will make up their own rules too. You can follow others’ rules or you can make up your own as well.

I’d prefer to make up my own rules. Whether anyone pays any attention to anyone else’s will reflect the authority that sits behind the badging or credentialing body.

NZQA has had a monopoly on the old-fashioned kind of badging and credentialing when it comes to school-related training.

My prediction is that they will lose this monopoly and just become one of many players in the credentialing game. In other words, expect disruption and fragmentation here (as well as everywhere else).

In NZ, how should micro-credentials and digital badges interact with NZQA?

This is not advice. These are just my thoughts right now.

  • Badging and micro-credentials should be independent of NZQA unit standards and NZ qualifications.
  • Badging and micro-credentials should be aligned with relevant aspects of NZQA unit standards and NZ qualifications.

This arrangement would retain independence from government agency bureaucracy but allows for others to use badges as evidence towards NZQA accredited qualifications and standards if and when needed.

This shifts the burden of compliance to NZQA accredited providers whose core business is in assessing NZQA qualifications.

A good example would be with regards to cultural competency training and assessment.

Training and assessment by third-party providers such as iwi-based organisations could lead to digital badges and the award of a micro-credential backed by the tribe.

With some clever thinking, badges could also align with relevant aspects of key qualifications and or assessment standards.

For example, there are four adult teaching qualifications that all contain a cultural competency component of some kind. Currently, training related to this is generic and usually done badly.

An iwi-based model backed by a series of digital badges but aligned with NZQA requirements could provide a win-win-win solution.

How can we align digital badges and micro-credentials with NZQA requirements?

Again, not advice, but I would:

  1. Spend time mapping NZQA qualifications and relevant unit standards against the relevant outcomes. For example, the cultural competency outcomes relating to values, knowledge and practice.
  2. Spend money on graphic design for a smorgasbord of digital badges that look really great.
  3. Spend time finessing very clear and concise outcomes for the training that relates to each badge.
  4. Encode badge meta-data with these clear and concise outcomes.
  5. Trial all of this in real-time with non-expert but interested participants in a range of contexts including ITP, Wananga, ESOL as well as all the normal ones.
  6. Evaluate participant data and fine tune this for further iteration and roll out.

What are some good platforms for experimenting with micro-credentials and digital badges?

You can find a list here maintained by the Mozilla Badge Alliance. However, I like this one:

I’m using this at the moment to make a variety of “proof of concept” badges for a few different groups. I like it because it has blockchain integration.

Here’s a very basic example I made to illustrate how it works:

Awesome

How do I get started with digital badges?

You can have a look at how I got underway here:

  1. Digital Badges – Part 1: Getting Started.
  2. Digital Badges – Part 2: Earning Your First Badge.

What were your recommendations to the NZQA on micro-credentials?

Here’s my response in full to the NZQA survey on micro-credentials. The questions that follow are theirs but the answers are mine.

Views on Micro Credentials from the NZQA Paper

  1. Are the views expressed in this survey:|
    • My own personal views.
  2. Do you think that recognising micro­credentials within New Zealand’s regulated education and training system would be useful?
    • Yes, to a point. NZQA is historically slow to move from a provider perspective. Developing and using micro credentials is part of remaining agile in a very fast-paced business environment where training and/or recognition of competency is required. The danger of NZQA getting involved is that it puts the brakes on fast-paced innovation.

      Also, those involved in currently delivering (or wanting to deliver) the best, most well known or most useful micro credentials are unlikely to be interested in dealing with another layer of bureaucracy in the form of NZQA compliance. The best independent systems will have their own quality assurance processes already built in.

      However, there may be a legitimate place for micro credentials as part of RPL procedures in existing TEOs who which to use them as components or pathways inside larger credentials such as NZ Certificates, Diplomas and degrees.

  3. Is “micro­credentials” the most appropriate term to be used in New Zealand?
    • Yes. But it’s good to highlight the other terminology that is in use as you have in the white paper. People are confused easily.

      Digital badging is just another name for the same thing but points more clearly to the relevant platforms like the one run by Mozilla. These platforms, by the way, operate on their own rules outside of the educational regulatory compliance.

  4. How suitable are the characteristics of micro­credentials for the New Zealand education and training system?
    • Very suitable for some things. But it would be a mistake to apply some kind of blanket “across-the-board” rule for this. It needs to be case by case and fit for purpose-driven by business, industry, community, iwi or other groups who seek to create or leverage the benefits and opportunities.

      I think the burden of bureaucracy should be on the TEOs who want to use micro-credentials and digital badging as RPL or similar components of other qualifications.

      Then let business, industries, others and the market decide what is quality and what is not. Some will align with TEOs and others will not

      There could be discussions between the industries, businesses or community micro-credential deliverers and the TEO accredited providers… but it would be crazy to let increased regulation and compliance shut down an innovation like this.

      I’m in favour of an “unbundled” education model for this that would allow separation of information content, training delivery, assessment against standards and various forms of credentialing (both formal and informal). This allows individuals and groups to specialise.

  5. What additions and changes, if any, would you suggest to the characteristics of a micro­credential? Please explain the reasons for your suggestions.
    • Don’t let regulation and compliance shut down innovation and agility in business and industry contexts. Keep the rules to a minimum and keep the conversation going with providers who exist in the wider training ecosystem outside of NZQA.
  6. Do you agree that the recommended minimum credit limit of 10 credits is appropriate for micro­credentials?
    • I suppose. But only if you do away with the outdated requirement for 1 credit to equal 10 notional hours of training. This is old-fashioned thinking and a contradiction of any kind of standards-based approach to assessment and credentialing. If someone meets the standard for X with evidence, then they meet the standard X. They don’t need 10 or 100 hours of training if they already proved that they met the standard.
  7. What measures can you suggest to manage the possible proliferation and duplication of quality assured micro­credentials?
    • Learn from industry and business. This kind of learning is hard for government agencies because regulatory control allows for some courses, programmes and providers to succeed that should fail, and for others to fail that should succeed.

      There are already existing models that you could be looking at and trying to understand why they are successful. Microsoft is one but there are others. Are there a proliferation of providers delivering TESLA electric car repair certification?

      The test of a valid micro-credential should be whether it has a current or (guaranteed future) paying customer. No customers = no business model = failure = try something else as fast as possible that people actually need.

      Also, in the interests of staying agile, micro-credentials are unlikely to remain static. However, the effect of NZQA on a programme is to try and lock down how the information, training, assessment and credentialing works. This may have been useful in the past, and tools like the EER process force providers to examine if their services are still fit for purpose, but unless this is streamlined I think you’ll just get a micro-certificate rather than the kind of micro-credentials and digital badges that people are discussing internationally.

      For the existing successful micro-credentials at the moment, NZQA is actually irrelevant.

      But if you want to link these into larger NZ qualifications then the equivalency plans should work. In fact, why not just apply this same thinking to new or existing micro-credentials in NZ as well?

      As a business owner and entrepreneur, I cannot think of many good reasons creating an NZQA approved micro-credential if I already had access to a good market of people who would pay for it plus the backing of industry or other groups who would support a non-NZQA micro-credential.

      Perhaps accessing visa approval from immigration for overseas students could be one reason. But the nature of a micro-credential means that someone could most likely complete it within the timeframe of a tourist visa. Developing levers for NZ to bring in highly skilled labour in the high-tech industry could be a good use-case for involving NZQA if was going to result in work visas being approved.

      Another good reason for involving NZQA could also be in the interests of securing TEC funding for the micro-credential. However, TEC is already funding organisations outside of NZQA by working directly with employers (Employer-led workplace literacy) and some iwi (SAC funding).

      Extra NZQA compliance costs around “recognising” digitally badged training doesn’t add much real-world value that I can see. It just perpetuates the already entrenched “do-I-get-credit-for-that” mindset that so many learners have grown up with through the NCEA system.

  8. To what extent should micro­credentials be embedded into the New Zealand education and training system? Please explain the reasons for your view.
    • Here you’re referring to the system under the control of NZQA’s regulatory powers. Micro-credentials could be embedded to the extent already discussed above that TEOs can work to recognise them via RPL or other equivalency procedures in order for learners to use them as components bearing credit value in larger already established NZ credentials.
  9. Do you think that micro­credentials developed by organisations other than New Zealand tertiary education organisations should be recognised
    • Yes, of course. Some already are. But the burden of bureaucracy around recognition should be on the TEOs who want to use them as components inside their own courses. For example, if a university MBA programme is sending students to an iwi organisation for training purchased as part of the MBA, this training could take the form of digital badges or a micro-credential. But it should be the job of the university to enable the recognition to make the pathway work.

      In addition, given the nature of student debt resulting from university study and the fact that outside of key professions, many degrees are often irrelevant or become redundant once someone starts working, I think that we’ll see greater fragmentation of training and credentialing.

      I’d rather hire someone with the right attitude and a very focused skillset. This is a growing trend as the number of businesses signed here attest.

  10. Do you think that determining the equivalence to the NZQF of micro­credentials developed by organisations other than New Zealand tertiary education organisations would be useful?
    • Yes, but depends on what they are. Pick up the best and highest quality ones and weave those into our qualifications to create interesting pathways that better serve learners and at a lower cost.
  11. What challenges do you think recognising micro­-credentials as part of New Zealand’s regulated education and training system present? Please explain how you think these could be addressed.
    • We can’t even get people to understand how unit standards work. So people will misunderstand what micro-credentials are. They will also be confused about what digital badging is and other related processes and terminology.

      There needs to be discussion around digital badging platforms and how these operate differently to just creating smaller versions of things like the existing NZ certificates.

      There also needs to be a wider conversation about using micro-credentials outside of NZQA compliance and what the differences or advantages/disadvantages might look like.

      If you want to take micro-credentialing seriously, NZQA should also be part of the discussion around using blockchain technology in the creation of durable records of learning for things like digital badges and micro-credentials, especially where the ownership of the information sits with the learner rather than in a centralised database.

  12. Do you think that the proposed amendments to the Rules support the recognition of micro­credentials within the New Zealand education and training system?
    • Yes. Because this may open up new kinds of funded training for underserved groups of learners.
  13. Do you agree with the proposed amendments to the Rules?
    • Yes, but I can think of many examples where businesses, industries or communities may seek to set up their own micro-credentials outside of this system.

 

 

 

NZQA is looking for consultation on micro-credentials


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Micro-credentials and digital badging are things that I’ve been thinking about for a while. There have been some great discussions over recent months about this.

I’m currently looking at learning more about how digital badging might work in a range of contexts including foundation learning.

NZQA is looking to join the conversation. They are asking for consultation about recognising micro-credentials within NZ’s regulated education and training system.

I have mixed thoughts about this.

On the one hand, it could be great if established tertiary education organisations could recognise and use high-quality micro-credentials from industry or business. For example, what if you could get credit for your Microsoft certificate as part of your degree in computer science or similar.

On the other hand, micro-credentials represent, to me at least qualities like staying agile, creating dynamic training, having systems that evolve and learn, and possibly leveraging cutting-edge tech like blockchain. And this all seems like the opposite of how NZQA operates historically.

In my experience, anyway.

Perhaps this is all changing. Excellent if it is.

However, if you’ve got something to say about micro-credentials, if you have any kind of skin in the training game, if you could see yourself benefiting or being harmed by NZQA regulation of micro-credentials you should read the white paper and do the survey.

Or at least chime in below with your opinion.

The link is here: http://www.nzqa.govt.nz/about-us/consultations-and-reviews/recognising-micro-credentials/

How do I teach better?


theres-a-better-way-to-teachThat’s my question for this year. And hopefully for you as well.

Stay tuned…

You really should read the Productivity Commission report on the future of tertiary education…


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I know that it’s a terrible title for a blog post.

But you really should read the Productivity Commission report on new models of tertiary education.

The report is 402 pages long, so here are your options:

And here’s why should you stop playing Candy Crush and read it…

It’s a damning indictment of the status quo and lack of innovation in tertiary education in New Zealand.

I might comment on this at some stage, but you need to read it for yourself and make up your own mind as to what next for tertiary education in New Zealand.

The report analyses the problems with the current system including over-regulation and control by government, but also presents some of the possible ways forward.

Opportunity knocks…

NZCALNE (Voc) Course Approval Granted By NZQA


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Good news…! It’s taken longer than we expected, but following the release of the new standards for Adult Literacy and Numeracy Education the other day, NZQA has now granted our course approval.

This means that we can now start on the course development work for the latest update to the most popular qualification for literacy and numeracy professional development.

This will include new content for the online version of our training on Pathways Awarua.

Please note the name change

  • From: National Certificate in Adult Literacy & Numeracy Education (Vocational/Workplace) or NCALNE (Voc).
  • To: New Zealand Certificate in Adult Literacy & Numeracy Education (Vocational/Workplace) or NZCALNE (Voc).

Also, the current version of the qualification – the NCALNE (Voc) – is still fit for purpose for the next two years. By this, I mean that it’s still fine for providers to deliver training and assess against the existing qualification and standards for the next two years.

By this, I mean that it’s still fine for providers to deliver training and assess against the existing qualification and standards for the next two years. After this time, the existing qualification (like the version before it), will be deleted, and providers will no longer be able to award it.

If you already hold the existing version of the qualification or an older one, you will still meet the TEC compliance requirements. You won’t need to do it again.

However, we are creating new knowledge in the sector all the time. It’s up to you to stay current with what’s happening in the sector.

The design of our new programme will reflect the latest thinking and research. Even if you’ve already finished the NCALNE (Voc), you may want to have a look at the content modules to make sure that you are current.

As they are now for the NCALNE (Voc), the content modules for the NZCALNE (Voc) will be freely available on Pathways Awarua. TEC funding and the top-up fees for participants won’t kick in until you official enrol and complete the first couple of assessments.

Lots of things are not changing:

  • 40 credits
  • Level 5
  • Required TEC compliance for SAC 1 and 2 as well as WPL and ILN funded training.
  • Online via www.PathwaysAwarua.com.

There are a few subtle differences, though, and I’ll post a breakdown of how we’re going to structure the new version of the course programme shortly.

If you’re in the middle of the current version of the qualification, your best course of action is to continue with it and complete it before the end of the year.

More to follow soon. Any questions, please let me know in the comments.

New Adult Literacy and Numeracy Standards Released for the New Qualifications


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Well, it’s taken a while… but it’s finally official. Here’s what you need to know:

  • We have a new suite of unit standards for adult literacy and numeracy education.
  • These new standards are for the new qualifications including the New Zealand Certificate in Adult Literacy & Numeracy Education (Vocational/Workplace).
  • The old standards are now expiring, but are still fit for purpose for assessment until 31 December 2018. So there is roughly a two-year transition period.
  • The content for Unit Standard 21204 has been broken up.
  • The new NZCALNE (Voc) will eventually replace the current NCALNE (Voc), just like the current NCALNE (Voc) replaced the original NCALE (Voc).

In terms of the new NZCALNE (Voc), there are four new standards. These are:

  • Unit 29622. Describe adult literacy and numeracy education in Aotearoa New Zealand. 5 credits
  • Unit 2962. Design strategies to embed adult literacy and numeracy in the delivery of a training or education programme. 10 credits
  • Unit 29624. Plan and facilitate embedded adult literacy and numeracy skills development in a training or education programme. 15 credits
  • Unit 2962. Use assessment to strengthen adult literacy and numeracy teaching and learning. 10 credits

A caution:

  • These standards are not the roadmap to delivering the new qualification. But they do provide a clear guide to what content the new NZCALNE (Voc) should assess as part of programme delivery. It will be up to providers to determine what that delivery roadmap should look like.

The good news:

  • As ALEC already has consent to assess the ALNE standards to level 6, we’ll automatically get this consent extended to the new standards.
  • We submitted our course approval documentation to the NZQA months ago for delivery of the new qualification but it’s been in limbo land pending the release of these new standards. This is now underway again on the NZQA side and we’re waiting to hear on its status.
  • I’ve worked on both the new qualification and the new standards as part of the subject expert group. This means any new content will incorporate the best of what ALEC has had to offer to date, as well as our most current thinking and knowledge about embedding literacy and numeracy into training.

The plan:

  • Our plan is to begin delivering the new version of the qualification with the new standards as soon as we can. Hopefully, this will be by the start of the academic year in 2017. This will depend on how much longer the course approval process takes and then how quickly we can move to develop the new content required.
  • We’ll keep you updated here on any progress.

Any questions? Please let me know.

 

 

From the NZQA: Review of Adult Literacy and Numeracy Education unit standards


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NZQA have now officially listed the new standards for the NCALNE (Voc). I’ve pasted in their blurb below. But I’ll do a shorter summary of my own later today. Cheers, Graeme

Adult Literacy and Numeracy Education (ALNE) unit standards

In September 2016, following the review of ALNE unit standards, a new suite of ALNE standards were approved for listing. The new suite of standards is now available in Domain – Adult Literacy and Numeracy Education.

The new ALNE standards will contribute toward the government strategy of developing the literacy and numeracy of adults and improving the quality of teaching within the context of training or education programmes.

The ALNE unit standards were reviewed to support the New Zealand Certificate in Adult Literacy and Numeracy Education (Vocational/Workplace) (Level 5) [Ref: 2754] and the New Zealand Certificate in Adult Literacy and Numeracy Education (Educator) (Level 5) [Ref: 2755]. The standards align with the graduate profile outcomes in content and credit value.

An expert panel, comprised of representation from the tertiary sector (polytechnic, private training establishment and university), the New Zealand Council for Educational Research, an ALNE consultant, and the national moderator, met to review these standards. Changes proposed by the panel were circulated to the wider network for consultation and endorsement.

Main changes

  • Literacy and numeracy teaching and learning are not treated in separate standards. Both literacy and numeracy are covered in all standards.
  • The standards have taken on a more applied approach, taking the theory of ALNE teaching and learning into practice.
  • The credit value of the standards are between 5 – 15 credits. There is no longer a 30 credit standard required for vocational/workplace candidates.
  • In the explanatory notes, reference has been made to the New Zealand ALNE qualifications, to which the new standards have been aligned. These standards are a valid way of achieving the qualifications.

Cross-crediting

Cross-crediting between the ALNE Vocational/Workplace qualification and the Educator qualification is explicit in the areas of knowledge required for ALNE in Aotearoa New Zealand. The standards below may be used for both qualifications:

  • Unit 29622, Describe adult literacy and numeracy education in Aotearoa New Zealand (5 credits)
  • Unit 29625, Use assessment to strengthen adult literacy and numeracy teaching and learning (10 credits).

Other skills and knowledge in the above two areas, required for the specialist adult literacy and numeracy Educator qualification, are reflected in extra standards. A table, showing the relationship between new ALNE standards and NZ ALNE qualifications, is available in the document “List of ALNE stds showing relations.docx” (DOCX, 22KB).

ALNE standards may also be credited towards the New Zealand Certificate in Adult and Tertiary Teaching (Level 5) [Ref: 2993] in areas where the same skills and knowledge are required for these qualifications. Dependent on the programme design for these qualifications, there are potential overlaps in areas of design, facilitation, assessment and evaluation.

Transition period

The replaced ALNE standards are now designated as ‘expiring’. The last date for assessment against these standards is 31 December 2018. This is a transition period to allow time for providers to adjust their programmes and resources to the new standards. For more information on Expired and replaced unit standards go to Outcomes of unit standard reviews page.

Providers who currently have consent to assess ALNE unit standards will have this extended to the new standards automatically.