Showcasing reflections and commentary from Schulich’s thought leaders on the latest emerging trends in management and the world of business.
Accelerated by the pandemic, the speed and scale of the transition to a digital world has been remarkable. In the world of management education, an even more fundamental disruption has been taking place since before the pandemic even started – one based on technological innovation and characterized by platforms and companies such as Coursera, edX, Google and Apple. In my view, this is the disruption that matters. It will fundamentally reshape the business of education.
Many of these so-called “platform universities” – for example, Shopify’s Dev Degree – are highly responsive to market demand and offer skill-focused degrees and certificates that employers recognize. Business schools that ignore this disruptive trend are especially at risk.
In the column below, discover how Schulich’s Executive Education Centre has quickly moved into this space by becoming a global leader in remote teaching and by introducing numerous, skill-focused micro-credential badges and certificates that offer just-in-time quality learning and on-demand upskilling.
This is a trend that will continue growing in the years ahead – one that will provide business students and executives with highly relevant and up-to-date real-world learning and skills.
Detlev Zwick, PhD
Dean, Tanna H. Schulich Chair in Digital Marketing Strategy
Schulich School of Business
Micro-Credentialing: One of the Trends Reshaping Management Education
When the pandemic lockdowns first took hold, we not only pivoted to online learning at the Schulich Executive Education Centre (SEEC) and began a digital transformation of our entire operation, but we also took the opportunity to reinvent ourselves.
We converted over 60 programs to digital learning virtually overnight, while retaining every major client, including CIBC, FedEx, Loblaw, Metrolinx, Toyota, and Walmart, as well as acquiring new clients such as Desjardins, Johnson & Johnson, TD Bank, Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan (HOOPP), Newgold, and Toronto Police Service. We forged new strategic partnerships and leveraged some of the in-house expertise at Schulich’s various Centres of Excellence to create new industry-focused programs in areas such as health, mining, and social innovation. We also embraced one of the fastest growing trends in management education today: the move to micro-credentialing and digital badging.
Micro-credentials are perfectly suited to today’s business environment, one where skills and career paths are constantly changing. Micro-credential learning programs are flexible, fast and focused. They’re competency based. They’re short-cycle upskilling programs that are becoming industry recognized. And they provide proof of learning outcomes and competency – a strong selling feature for employers.
All SEEC graduates – regardless of which program they enrol in – receive a micro-credential or several micro-credentials, which are smaller modules of learning built around specific knowledge, skills or competencies.
SEEC provides two types of digital credentials: Badges and Certificates. Badges are provided for the skills an earner acquires in a course such as Project Management or Presentation Effectiveness. There are two types of badges based on the level of skill they signify: Foundational and Advanced. A Foundational badge signifies that a learner has gained information and insights into new skills and how they relate to their work. An Advanced badge shows the learner has also been able to apply the knowledge at an organizational level through assignments, case studies or group projects.
Select programs, such as the Certificate in Leadership Skills for Supervisors and Front-Line Managers or the Masters Certificate in Analytics for Leaders, allow learners to stack badges to earn a Certificate or a Masters Certificate. This occurs when a participant completes a longer course of sequential learning that may comprise several badges that are stacked together to achieve mastery.
Once participants complete a particular course or program, they receive secure, verifiable digital information about the qualifications they’ve earned. That information – which is the micro-credential – is an encrypted symbol acknowledging that the person displaying it has successfully completed a course and acquired a new skill that directly relates to their employability. The credential is stored in a blockchain-encrypted digital wallet, making it easily shareable on your online profile as well as making it easy for employers to verify your qualifications and professional development.
Since micro-credentials represent highly responsive, just-in-time learning, they are rapidly growing in popularity and acceptance. However, where SEEC is really in the vanguard is in partnering with corporations and associations to provide micro-credential learning. SEEC was the lead partner along with a multi-disciplinary group of York University faculties that recently won funding to establish a new online micro-credentials training program in digital fluency and organizational transformation for people working in the non-profit and social innovation sectors. SEEC also recently partnered with Microsoft to offer Microsoft-certified training in data science and artificial intelligence.
With micro-credentials, more business people will be able to upgrade their employment-related skills quickly and efficiently as they navigate their career journey. Micro-credentials are helping to close the skills gap that many companies experience. And they are the type of learning built for the digital generation – bite-sized, anywhere/anytime, with results that can be measured quickly and accurately. In short, they’re a win for our customers; a win for our partners; and win for employers.
Forbes Magazine heralded micro-credentials last year as “small but mighty” and said they would play a significant role in the future of work. The evidence so far supports that prediction.
Executive Director, Schulich Executive Education Centre