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25 Jan, 2023 - 3 min read

What is a micro-credential and what can I study?

Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs) began to emerge as a significant force in global education around 2012, when organizations dedicated to their delivery, such as Udacity and Coursera, started to offer aggregated access to many courses.

Despite the high take-up of MOOCs, their initial offerings did not meet all the needs of global learners. In particular, they did not offer meaningful pathways to more formal qualifications. This led to various efforts to credentialize collections of MOOC learning units with digital and open badges, nano-degrees, and micro-credentials, increasingly authenticated via digital artefacts supported by blockchain and associated technologies. From this complex background, micro-credentials have emerged globally as short, affordable, focused online courses that can often be ‘stackable’ (combined) into larger, more formal qualifications. 

Exactly how a micro-credential is defined is a matter of debate, and the lack of standardization makes it difficult to compare the micro-credentials from different providers. In an effort to provide a set of standards, the European Union has defined 10 principles for micro-credentials, stating that they should provide: Quality, transparency, relevance, valid assessment, learning pathways (including stackability), recognition, and portability. They should also be learner-centered, authenticated, and supported by suitable information and guidance. That said, they should not have a one-size-fits-all approach and may vary in the extent to which they are self-directed, job-embedded, competency-based, or research-based.

New Zealand has been an early adopter of micro-credentials, offering its first pilot courses in 2017, and has integrated them into the national qualifications framework. Other nations such as Australia and Canada have noted how New Zealand is ahead of the game in this space, and academyEX is leading this innovative approach to learning delivery in the postgraduate market. Aligning closely to the EU’s 10 principles, our micro-credentials are quality assured, stackable, internationally recognized, and based on solid foundations of expertise and teaching experience. They provide pathways to further postgraduate study, including postgraduate certificates and master’s degrees.

Currently, academyEX offers more choice in postgraduate micro-credentials than any other New Zealand institution, providing courses in important areas of learning and professional development such as education, leadership, entrepreneurship, software development and the Internet of Things, among others, and continues to develop new offerings to meet market demand.