Micro-Credential Moments with Ross: Competency Is Key

This is the third installment of a new monthly blog post series that features short, multi-mode, original ideas and thoughts about micro-credentials. Scroll down for the audio-version of this post.

“Micro-credentials recognize standalone, short-duration learning experiences that are competency-based; align with industry, employer, community, and/or Indigenous community needs; and can be assessed and recognized for employment or learning purposes.”

Post by Ross McKerlich, project manager, Micro-Credentials, BCcampus

This is the definition of micro-credentials noted in the B.C. Micro-Credential Framework released in September 2021. The phrase competency-based uses just two of 32 words in the above definition (bolded by the author for effect), but it makes a huge impact on the meaning of micro-credentials and how they are different from macro-credentials.

Close up shot of Ross where a mustache and beard, dark rimmed glasses and a flannel shirt.
Ross McKerlich

To unpack these words, we can look to a trade, because competencies are well understood in trades. In recognition of Movember, lets focus on the hairstylist trade; part of Movember is about growing hair (at least on the face). 

A competency is defined as a combination of knowledge, skills, and ability. Although several competencies are associated with hairstyling, a tradesperson in this trade needs to have knowledge about hair, skills in applying the knowledge of hair to cut and style it, and the ability to employ the knowledge and skills effectively. Together, the knowledge, skills, and ability make up a competency that can be assessed. 

The example of hairstyling illustrates a competency in action, but other analogies also exist. Regardless, it is important to understand the meaning of competency if this is a distinguishing feature of micro-credentials. As we are micro-credential advocates, it would be beneficial to have an “elevator” pitch to quickly explain to any stakeholders who pass by what micro-credentials are and their benefits to the learner, industry, and institution. Being able to quickly explain micro-credentials and their key characteristics helps build awareness and understanding.

Learn more:

The featured image for this post (viewable in the BCcampus News section at the bottom of our homepage) is by Zen Chung from Pexels