The European MOOC Consortium (EMC) launches a Common Microcredential Framework (CMF) to create portable credentials for lifelong learners

Written by Jon Kennard on 2 May 2019 in Press Zone
Press Zone

At the EADTU-EU Summit 2019, Brussels, the EMC launched a Common Microcredential Framework.

At the EADTU-EU Summit 2019, Brussels, the EMC launched a Common Microcredential Framework (CMF) with its founding platform partners including FutureLearn, France Université Numérique (FUN), OpenupEd, Miríadax, and EduOpen.

The move comes in response to demand from learners to develop new knowledge, skills and competencies from shorter, recognised and quality-assured courses, which can also be used to earn traditional university qualifications.

The CMF establishes a framework for these goals to be achieved across Europe’s leading MOOC platforms and the universities within their networks. The ambition is to lay the foundations for a new international credential for universities to meet the needs of lifelong learners, globally.  

Speaking on behalf of the EMC, Mark Lester, Managing Director for Educational Partnerships at FutureLearn explains, “The world of work is changing fast and the world of learning is changing with it.

"As the forces of technological innovation drive change at an unprecedented rate, people will need to upskill and re-skill throughout their lives and develop higher order competencies that will underpin a successful career.

"Leaving work for long periods of time to earn a traditional qualification will be less applicable in this new world and a new solution is needed from the education sector to meet this growing need."

Lester continued, “The current crop of microcredentials have so far popularised short forms of online learning among universities, but the proliferation of different types of microcredentials is becoming confusing to learners and employers.

"The EMC partners are proud to be collaborating, along with our respective university partners, to try to ensure there is greater consistency, quality and portability built into the microcredentials that we develop.”

To ensure microcredential courses are built to high quality standards, the CMF requires that microcredential courses are capable of earning academic credit. 

This requirement ensures courses must be developed within the university's national qualification framework and, in Europe, in line with the European Qualification Framework (EQF), a common European reference framework whose purpose is to make qualifications more readable and understandable across different countries and systems. 

To qualify as a microcredential within this framework, a course must adhere to the following specifications:

  • Have a total study time of no less than 100 hours and no more than 150 hours, including revision for, and completion of, the Summative Assessment.
  • Be levelled at Level 6 or Level 7 in the European Qualification Framework or the equivalent levels in the university’s national qualification framework.
  • Provide a summative assessment that enables the award of academic credit, either directly following successful completion of a microcredential or via recognition of prior learning upon enrolment as a student on the university’s course of study.
  • Operate a reliable method of ID verification at the point of assessment that complies with the university’s policies and/or is widely adopted across the platforms authorised to use the CMF.
  • Provide a transcript that sets out the learning outcomes for a microcredential, total study hours required, EQF level and number of credit points earned.

These microcredential courses will aim to be recognisable between different higher education institutions and thereby create an ecosystem where learners can one day take microcredentials from within a network of universities that can be used towards a larger qualification, such as a postgraduate certificate or Masters degree.

The first microcredentials as part of this CMF are expected to be ready for enrolment on the partner platforms, in the second half of 2019. Among them will be a microcredential course from Dublin City University on 'Fintech and Strategy in the 21st Century' delivered on FutureLearn.

The CMF will be promoted across Europe by the European Association of Distance Teaching Universities (EADTU) alongside the founding platform partners. 

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