The University of Colorado Boulder has been developing technical infrastructure and protocols to offer microcredentials at the department level for several years. It is now scaling up and expanding its microcredential offerings and plans to list them in the university catalog.
The university offers a variety of credentials, including undergraduate degrees, graduate degrees, professional degrees, certificates, and microcredentials. It also offers a variety of non-credit offerings. Microcredentials have been offered at the department level for several years.
External website: The university’s website (colorado.edu) is managed using Drupal.
Credential curriculum development: All credential offering proposals, reviews, and approvals are managed using Leapfrog Technologies’ Courseleaf CIM. Forms are used to document the duration of the offering, credits, fees, competencies, and learning outcomes, as well as alignment to external standards. Unique workflows are supported for credit-based offerings and non-credit offerings. The workflow for microcredential proposals begins with an initial university form to help prepare the CIM offering proposal.
Catalog: Leapfrog Technologies’ Courseleaf CAT is used to list credit-based offerings, but microcredentials are not yet listed in the catalog.
Learning Management System (LMS): Instructure’s Canvas is used to deliver programs, which can vary by department and can be credit- or non-credit-based, as well as experience-based, with a high degree of variability.
Student Information System (SIS): Oracle’s Campus Solutions is used, but badges are not included in the system. It only houses credit-based credential offerings.
Badges: Credly is used by departments to develop and approve badges. The registrar’s office awards badges to learners using a batch upload process, which must be monitored to ensure badges are awarded appropriately and on a timely basis. Important microcredential information stored in Courseleaf CIM is manually entered into the Credly badge.
Transcript: Parchment is used for transcripts, with data coming from the SIS. Currently, badges are not listed on the transcript.
Data warehouse: The university’s data warehouse was developed by staff and connected with Cognos for reporting. Information about badge offerings is reviewed via Credly-based reports.
Integration with existing credential processes: Reuses existing business processes and technologies for microcredential offerings. Supplements these processes with additional steps (such as a university microcredential intent form), configurations (such as a new credential type and metadata fields in CIM), and a technical tool to award badges (see list of badge offerings).
Microcredential Guidelines: Using microcredential “guidelines” instead of policy for more flexibility to experiment (e.g., with credit ranges for microcredentials). Non-credit microcredentials need to have standards as well, with documented skills and consistent differentiation from participation badges.
Microcredential Advisory Committee: Forming a Microcredential Advisory Committee of key stakeholders from various areas to resolve issues, such as stackable credentials, grouping of the multiple badges together for a higher level badge. Especially useful for designing credit-based microcredential pathways that stack into a certificate program.
Request for Proposals (RFP) Evaluation: Using a procurement RFP to learn about current market support for microcredentials, badging tool features, supports for stakeholder communications, and reporting capabilities.
Comprehensive Learner Record (CLR): Planning to create supports for learners to store their badges, degrees, and various co-curricular achievements in one place. CLRs are expected to be developed over the next few years.
AACRAO best practices and guidelines: The aim is to establish common understandings and definitions of microcredentials across institutions for greater impact and recognition in the workforce.
Statewide network: Efforts are underway to enable electronic transcript exchanges using the PESC XML standard. Future support for CLR exchanges may also be explored through these potential connections.
On technology challenges: “Most of the challenges are not technology-based; technology can be pretty easy. It’s more the “buy-in,” change in culture, and new ideas that become actually more challenging.”
On building demand for microcredentials: “Barriers to broad scale understanding and adoption of microcredentials include the lack of consistency across institutions. It is important for employers to have a clear understanding of microcredentials, whether they are awarded by Institution A or Institution B.”