Microcredentials are a relatively new concept in the world of education and career development. They are small volumes of learning that are assessed against transparent and clearly defined criteria, and are recognized as proofs of meeting defined learning outcomes. The term microcredential is often used interchangeably with other terms such as nanocredentials, badges, and microdegrees, but they do not always meet the definition of a microcredential as described in this paper.

The growth of microcredentials is driven by several factors, including the need to promote lifelong learning, the rapidly changing nature of work, and the importance of providing flexible and inclusive learning opportunities. Microcredentials can be used to fill skill gaps, upskill people for employability, and provide a more personalized and unique training and educational pathway.

Microcredentials fit into the current credential ecosystem as both standalone and stackable qualifications. They have the potential to liberate learners by providing entry points to those who want to verify and accredit their qualifications and expertise without entering the traditional long-form higher education system. Employers also benefit from microcredentials, as they provide just-in-time on-the-job training and continuous professional development.

Despite the growing momentum to integrate microcredentials more fully into the credential ecosystem, there are still challenges to overcome, such as interoperability across digital credential platforms and technologies, and the need for trusted quality assurance mechanisms and accrediting bodies. Additionally, more empirical evidence is needed to demonstrate the benefits of microcredentials to learners and employers.

Related terms include digital literacies, learner agency, and lifelong learning. These concepts are important in understanding the role of microcredentials in promoting flexible and inclusive learning opportunities.

In summary, microcredentials are a new and emerging concept in education and career development that offer flexible and personalized learning pathways. They have the potential to transform the credential ecosystem by providing unbundled, stackable, and credit-bearing small volumes of learning. However, there are still challenges to overcome to fully integrate microcredentials into the current credential ecosystem.