Micro-credential pilots

The New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) is undertaking micro-credential pilot projects with three organisations from 1 August 2017 to 30 June 2018. These pilots will enable NZQA to better understand the role micro-credentials could play in New Zealand’s education, training and qualification system of the future.

Micro-credentials, also known as badges, nanocredentials and nano-degrees, recognise the achievement of a defined set of skills and knowledge. The component of learning undertaken is validated in a micro credential and is important in itself (not simply as a stepping stone to any subsequent qualification).

These pilots are a stepping stone to NZQA developing a full micro-credential system, so that employers and learners can access the skills they need throughout their lifetime. This is becoming even more important as the nature of work continues to change.

The three organisations involved are:

Udacity

Udacity is a leading online education company with a mission to reinvent education for the 21st century by bridging the gap between real-world skills, relevant education, and employment. Based in the heart of Silicon Valley in the U.S.A., Udacity works closely with industry leaders such as Google, Facebook, Amazon and others to teach the skills industry requires today in areas such as mobile and web development, data science, and artificial intelligence. 

In the transportation sector, Udacity have worked with Mercedes Benz, BMW, NVIDIA, McLaren Applied Technologies and other global automotive industry leaders to identify the skills they need to support transportation in a digital world. These companies have recognised the Udacity Nanodegree programme as a credential for hiring students ready to join the workforce. 

The Self-Driving Car Engineer Nanodegree programme covers deep learning, computer vision, sensor fusion, controllers, and related automotive hardware skills and takes nine months of part time study.

Udacity's Self-Driving Car Engineer Nanodegree is a micro-credential that has been assessed by the NZQA for the purposes of this pilot as equivalent to a 60 credit package of learning at Level 9 (Masters Level) on the New Zealand Qualifications Framework (NZQF).

Otago Polytechnic

Otago Polytechnic, has significant experience in the assessment and recognition of prior learning and has launched a micro-credential service called EduBits. EduBits recognise sets of skills and knowledge to enable just-in-time workforce upskilling and reskilling and are being developed in conjunction with industry partners.

“EduBits are a great way for people to gain recognition of career-relevant skills without taking time off work for study. They’re ideal for personal and professional development, and can be gained as-and-when needed,” says Jo Brady, Otago Polytechnic Deputy Chief Executive People, Performance and Development.

Otago Polytechnic is offering a wide range of EduBits to suit the needs of all sorts of people. From business and professional capabilities, to Health & Safety in farming, the range is extensive.

Otago Polytechnic and NZQA will jointly award micro-credential EduBits as equivalent to a specified credit value and Level on the New Zealand Qualifications Framework.

Young Enterprise Scheme

Young Enterprise is a non-governmental organisation working to help young people thrive in business and in life.  Its flagship programme, The Lion Foundation Young Enterprise Scheme (YES), sees students set up and run a real business while in secondary school, creating a product or service and bringing it to market.  Through YES, students have the opportunity to learn about business planning and operations, develop a range of personal and business skills, and create valuable networks within their community.

“The value of YES comes from it being an authentic, hands-on learning experience.  Students have the opportunity to learn by doing,” says Young Enterprise Chief Excitement Officer, Terry Shubkin.

YES can be offered as a timetabled course in schools or as an extracurricular option. In addition to the support of their teachers, students also connect with business people who volunteer as mentors. “This combination of professional educators with business leaders makes for a very rich learning experience for the students,” says Shubkin.

Approximately 3,700 students from over 180 schools participate in the scheme annually. The YES certificate contributes 24 credits at Level 3 on the NZQF that can be used toward NCEA.


These pilots cover a diverse range of micro-credential cases. The experience of engaging with these three partners helps NZQA consider how a full micro-credential system might be developed.

Micro-credentials have the potential to offer a range of lifelong learning options, as New Zealanders seek to develop skills throughout multiple careers. They also support learners to participate in a way that suits their individual needs and circumstances. Employers will benefit from increased access to just-in-time and relevant skills that reflect their needs.

The three pilots will conclude on 30 June 2018 and will be evaluated by NZQA within six months with a view to considering how best to support the further development of a possible micro-credentials system in New Zealand.

 
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