SIX U.S. UNIVERSITIES
have partnered to create the University Learning Store, an online learning portal where entry- to senior-level employees can earn microcredentials in the form of digital badges or printed certificates. These microcredentials, which students earn by completing skills-based assessments, can be produced as evidence of their skills in areas such as creating effective business documents, mastering global business email communication, and using active listening skills.
Participating schools include Georgia Institute of Technology Professional Education; the University of California, Los Angeles; the University of California, Davis, Extension; the University of California, Irvine, Division of Continuing Education; the University of Washington Division of Professional and Continuing Education; and the University of Wisconsin–Extension. The University Learning Store credentialing program hasbeen designed and vetted by higher education institutions that can verify the capabilities of those who earn the badges, says David Schejbal, dean of the University of Wisconsin–Extension.
Microcredentials can be combined to create larger certifications. The first two certifications the platform will offer include one in global business communication delivered by Georgia Tech and one in business communications delivered by UW–Extension. An additional certification in effective business writing, to be delivered by UC-Irvine, is in the pipeline.
The University Learning Store will continue to offer microcredentialing courses in three categories: power skills in areas such as communication, teamwork and collaboration, critical thinking, and problem solving; technical skills in areas such as information technology, agriculture, healthcare, and sustainability; and career advancement skills in areas such as leadership, public speaking, management, and negotiation.
As more workers seek to update their skills through just-in-time short-format courses rather than commit to long-term degree programs, microcredentialing is likely to grow in importance, says Nelson Baker, dean of Georgia Tech Professional Education. “Industry validation,” he says, “is the final frontier of proving the value of lifelong learning.”
For more information, visit universitylearningstore.org.