Credential As You Go Co-Leads Nan Travers and Holly Zanville on EdUp Experience Podcast

Incremental Credentialing Key Work

Many initiatives are working to improve the learn-and-work ecosystem in areas such as credentialing, equity and inclusion, quality and value of credentials, employer hiring, digital learner records, professional development for higher education faculty and administrators, and platforms to match job opportunities with skills acquired through new credentialing by learners. The following are examples:


CREDENTIAL TRANSPARENCY — Credential Engine is a non-profit whose mission is to map the credential landscape with clear and consistent information, fueling the creation of resources that empower people to find the pathways that are best for them. There are more than 960,000 confirmed unique credentials in the U.S., including diplomas, badges, certificates, certifications, licenses, apprenticeships, and degrees of all types and levels. CE provides an open family of specifications for describing credentials, competencies, and outcomes as well as technologies that support trusted search, discovery, and comparison. and


AAC&U’S ESSENTIAL LEARNING OUTCOMES FRAMEWORK – AAC&U’s essential learning outcomes framework (2007) has been widely adopted across higher education institutions of all types and across a number of state higher education systems. AAC&U is revising and updating the framework to reflect emerging labor market priorities, growing emphasis on the value of cultivating mindsets and dispositions, and attentiveness to commitments to equity.


QUALITY FRAMEWORK FOR COMPETENCY-BASED EDUCATION PROGRAMS – C-BEN’s Quality Framework provides guidance about the design, implementation, and scale of high-quality programs that lead to greater completion and employment.


STATE EFFORTS – The National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center), in partnership with Jobs for the Future (JFF), is helping Governors’ offices and other senior state officials better connect skills-based training to skills-based hiring practices and to consider promising design elements of Learning and Employment Record (LER) systems. The Skills-Driven State Community of Practice peer learning opportunity is supporting states in preparing their employers, education and workforce systems, data systems and policies to design and implement digital wallet and LER projects as an equitable economic mobility tool. States engaged are at varying stages of preparation to execute this work with the intention of moving forward in their efforts build and strengthen state/regional LER systems.


REACH  – The Racial Equity for Adult Credentials in Higher Education (REACH) Collaborative is helping community colleges address the needs of adult students of color earning high-quality, non-degree credentials. Colleges in California, Colorado, New York, North Carolina, Texas and Virginia are participating. The collaborative is ensuring that academic, financial and wraparound supports are available to students for their entire enrollment, and that resources used are specific to the needs of adult students of color.…


CERTIFICATIONS EMBEDDED IN DEGREE PROGRAMS – Workcred, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), Coalition of Urban Serving Universities (USU), and UPCEA are exploring how students can earn both degrees and certifications as part of their four-year degree program. These credential pathways can create more opportunities for students to earn credentials with labor-market value.,partnership%2C%20certifications%20and%20the%20development%20of%20their%20project


CERTIFICATION+DEGREE PATHWAYS – Workcred, League for Innovation in the Community College, and National Student Clearinghouse are teaming up with the Higher Learning Commission to offer community colleges an affordable, scalable approach to align degrees with industry needs through Certification+Degree (C+D) Pathways. Five community colleges are developing and implementing C+D Pathways in IT, logistics, and/or health science programs in at least three different states, and establishing a process for economical replication.


DIGITAL LEARNER RECORDS  – The American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Offices and NASPA: Association of Student Affairs Professionals partnered on a national pilot project between 2015-17 to develop models for a more comprehensive student record. The associations moved to second stage work on the development/adoption of Comprehensive Learner Records.  The CLR seeks to capture, record, and communicate learning when and where it happens in a student’s college experience. This includes learning outcomes from courses, programs, and degrees, as well as experience outside the classroom. AACRAO’s most recent alternative credentials initiative is exploring opportunities for higher education and to empower registrars as key stakeholders in this conversation. Explorations include 1) what alternative credentials, namely micro-credentials are; 2) why a campus might consider offering micro-credentials; 3) who should be involved in proposing alternative credentials, and who are the potential learner populations; 4) how micro-credential initiatives might be implemented for long-term success; 5) where micro-credentials and digital badges might be recorded and referenced; and 6) when alternative credentials should be awarded to foster their relevance and usefulness to learners.” (AACRAO alternative credentials workgroup report, 2022) and


DIGITAL CREDENTIALS CONSORTIUM  – Conducting research that identifies barriers to adoption of digital academic credentials in education and employment. The project builds on interviews with key stakeholders from technology, employers, HR software, and universities. It identifies structural challenges and possible strategies to address them. The DCC also developed the Learner Credential Wallet, an open source mobile wallet designed to hold verifiable credentials of learning achievement (diplomas, certificates, badges and other credentials).


HUMAN RESOURCES DATA EXCHANGES – HR Open Standards Resume/CV Project is a recruiting data exchange standard that enables communication of a rich set of information about a person and their education, work experience, licenses and certifications, and other lived experiences between systems for primarily recruiting use cases. 


SKILLUP COALITION – Building and testing an end-to-end infrastructure of organizations, data, coaching, and stackable credentials – via learning records – that connect learners to existing skills and desired education and employment pathways, to education providers that offer pathways, and to one-on-one or group coaching – all that lead directly to employment and economic mobility.


UPCEA – The Alternative Credentials Network is sharing best practices and emerging trends related to non-degree or non-credit credentials through the exchange of ideas, programs, services, and initiatives that expand member knowledge regarding new, innovative, and entrepreneurial programs to serve the needs of diverse learners. The Hallmarks of Excellence in Credential Innovation effort offers a toolkit to assist those in Professional, Continuing, and Online Education  to think systematically and concretely about the nature of credentials at their institution as well as the strategy and logistical components of supporting learners throughout their lifetimes. Hallmarks focuses on alternative credentials, which includes certificates, micro-credentials, digital badges, or micro-certificates, signaling specific competencies, certification, and sometimes licensure. Institutional leaders are encouraged to use the Hallmarks to: assess an institution’s readiness for more flexible student learning opportunities;  plan for meeting workforce needs and employer demand in the new economy; define roles and responsibilities required for an enterprise-wide effort to achieve credential excellence; benchmark against key performance indicators; and generate revenue with quality credentialing programs and badges. and


FACULTY TRAINING FOR MICROCREDENTIALING – Course+Badge Initiative is training faculty members to articulate a marketable skill into a credit-bearing course using the Education Design Lab’s 21st Century Skills Badges.

Improving Education and Employment Outcomes