Micro-Credentials: Dos and Don’ts for Your Association
Could associations take a page out of higher ed’s playbook?
Like associations, higher ed also offers continuing education opportunities. In recent years, universities have begun to partner with online platforms to provide on-demand, flexible micro-credentials.Coursera calls them Specializations, while edX markets them as MicroMasters.
Could your association offer similar programs? If you already invest in a learning management system (LMS), then you’re already halfway there.
What is a Micro-credentialing Program?
Today's professionals are enhancing their skills every day. However, it can be difficult at times to show those new skill sets to employers. That's where a micro-credentialing program can help!
Micro-credentials are mini digital certifications that demonstrate mastery in a specific topic area or skill set. A micro-credentialing program takes that specific topic and builds 4-10 courses around it.
Some places, like the Interaction Design Foundation, split their courses up into beginner, intermediate, and advanced. Others, like edX, partner with universities so their MicroMasters courses count as credits for full Masters programs.
Most programs allow learners to take courses in different orders. Some might even allow learners to earn the micro-credential by mixing and matching courses.
🔎 Learn more about this trend by reading our CEO Ashish Rangnekar’s take, How Unbundled Learning Is Reshaping Associations: A Trends Discussion.
Micro-credential Dos and Don’ts
1) Provide a digital badge certifying the training.
Learners will love sharing their micro-credential badges on social media. You also highlight the value to their career with the digital badge. Plus, it's great advertising for you.
Essential LMS Feature: You’ll need a certification engine to verify the experience. BenchPrep works with Credly to give your learners the best experience possible.
2) Allow participants to mix and match courses.
Learners take micro-credentialing courses for flexibility. By allowing them to mix and match, you encourage flexibility and accommodate choice. They could also take courses at the same time to speed up the process.
Essential LMS Feature: An e-commerce integration will make this process painless. Learners will be able to easily select and purchase their courses.
3) Create separate learning pathways for your users.
Learners want to see the value to their career through your micro-credential. If you create separate learning pathways for your target audiences, they’ll see where this micro-credential could take them in the future. For example, you might have one pathway for marketers and another for salespeople.
Essential LMS Feature: Your LMS will need learning pathways to make this a reality.
🔎 Find out more about how BenchPrep revamps the certification process in our case study, HR Certification Institute: A Smoother, More Successful Certification Process.
4) Allow learners to put micro-credentials towards larger certificates.
Micro-credentials create an opportunity for upselling. You’ll want to design your Micro-credentialing program with larger certifications in mind. Ideally, learners will put their micro-courses towards a larger certification.
Essential LMS Feature: To upsell learners, you’ll need an LMS with automatic email notifications. Once they’ve completed their micro-credential, they’ll receive an email encouraging them to take the next course on their way to a larger certification.
5) Don’t focus on beginners.
Research found most micro-credential learners are professionals. They’re looking to hone their skills. Target this audience with advanced or cutting-edge topics.
Essential LMS Feature: Professionals have different needs than students. They need microlearning modules available on mobile to fit their busy lives. They’re more likely learning on the subway, instead of in the library.
6) Don’t just sell to your learner, market to your industry.
The same study suggested employers weren’t aware of micro-credentials. The truth is that micro-credentials only act as a skills currency if employers are aware of them. Plus, then you can market group training to business clients with the right LMS.
Essential LMS Feature: If you sell training to businesses, make sure your LMS has robust data analytics. Employers want to see how your training drives business results.
7) Don’t make it too short.
Even though they’re micro, they shouldn’t be too short. The best value for your learners depends on their industry. If they need a certain number of continuing education credits, then align your micro-credential with those requirements.
Essential LMS Feature: A built-in content authoring tool can help keep your micro-credentialing program feeling fresh. It’ll allow you to make last-minute changes and continually upgrade your content.
8) Don’t skip assessments.
Learners in micro-credentialing programs need the same robust assessments. They still need knowledge checks, gamification, and practice questions. At the end of the day, you want your micro-credentialing program to deliver the same significant results as your certification program.
Essential LMS Features: At a minimum, you need assessments; however, you can supercharge this feature with adaptive learning. Adaptive learning creates personalized content depending on the strengths and weaknesses of your learner.
🔎 Want to know more about what makes a successful training program? Read our e-book, The 3 Pillars of an Effective Learning Program.
How to Use Your LMS to Find the Perfect Topic
Your LMS already has the data required to give you the perfect topic. You have a few choices on how you can use your LMS data.
1) Popular Courses
If one course is popular, then your audience might be interested in others. Of course, a popular course might just show it’s for beginners.
2) Learner Engagement
If learners are engaged in a particular topic, then you can bet it’s a winner for a micro-credential.
3) Discussion Forums
You might discover similar questions keep coming up or high engagement on a particular topic.
What are you waiting for?
Your busy members deserve micro-credentials. They deserve to learn the latest skills. They deserve credit for their hard work with a micro-credential. They deserve a micro-credential developed by an industry leader — their association.
And you are perfectly positioned to offer it to them with a little help. All you need is an LMS to set up your micro-credentialing program today.
Lifelong learning is often a core tenant for associations. Watch our webinar to find out how the Association for Supply Chain Management (ACSM) leveraged the BenchPrep platform to make lifelong learning a reality for their members.