A successful pilot of MacEwan University’s first micro-credentials during the Fall 2021 and Winter 2022 term marks a new milestone for the School of Continuing Education (SCE).

Over the past year, SCE has partnered with organizations including Routeique Inc., Edmonton International Airport, Canadian Western Bank and several Edmonton Chamber of Commerce members to develop and pilot micro-credential programs. Three new micro-credential programs in intelligent supply chain, sustainable business and digital marketing for small businesses are now open for registration

“Micro-credentials are part of Alberta’s roadmap for the future of advanced education,” says Dr. Heather McRae, dean of the School of Continuing Education. “This new approach is about creating learning opportunities that are targeted to the industry’s needs and accessible to learners.”

Micro-credentials explained

Micro-credentials are short-term, flexible training programs that focus on and address business and industry's upskilling and reskilling needs. This form of learning provides options for working professionals who want to advance their careers, companies looking to upskill their current teams and people looking to enter or re-enter the workforce. 

Micro-credentials engage industry partners to assess market needs, consult on curriculum and provide resources. They use a project-based assessment model, ensuring that learners demonstrate competency while adding value to the organizations where they currently work.

She adds that creating opportunities that meet those goals means listening carefully to both of those groups. SCE was careful to assess feedback from its industry partners and students during the pilot offering of each micro-credential.

With micro-credentials, industry members are true partners, says Dr. McRae, ensuring that the material is current and relevant to learners and that the content addresses the industry's specific needs. 

“Our partners have been extremely helpful in pinpointing their specific needs and identifying knowledge that needs to be shared,” she says. “They are passionate about sharing this information and filling the existing gaps.”  

Routeique Inc., which designs software and hardware for supply chain applications, is one of those partners.

“We believe strongly in fostering talent with the right skills and mindset to help solve the challenges the industry is facing, now and in the future,” says Mike Allan, president and CEO of Routeique. “In co-designing the Intelligent Supply Chain micro-credential program, we were able to impart some of the great experience we’ve picked up working with some of the world’s largest companies.”

Participants in the pilots also had vital information to share about course delivery. 

“Specific feedback focused on how well the final projects aligned to the workplace and the flexibility offered by the a-synchronous format,” says Dr. McRae. “We were excited to see that learners felt that the knowledge and skills learned in the course were immediately applicable to their work.”

Participants in the pilots were also recipients of the university’s first digital badges through MyCreds, the university’s digital passport service that gives learners secure and verified credentials and transcripts to share virtually with employers and post-secondary institutions.

But for participants in one of the pilots, their connection didn’t end when the course was complete and they received their digital badges. Students formed their own "community of practice" to build community and keep in touch. 

It’s just one of many positive outcomes of this new way of learning – one that Dr. McRae says will continue to grow at MacEwan. Over the coming year, SCE plans to continue developing additional micro-credentials that reflect both the interests and needs of employers and the expertise of faculty at MacEwan and industry leaders in Edmonton.

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