The idea of microcredentialing through nanodegrees and badges is becoming more accepted, but limited mostly to educational technology firms. A group of traditional colleges and universities are working on a way to get into the game.
The Georgia Institute of Technology, Northwestern University, the University of Washington, the University of California Davis, Irvine, and Los Angeles, and the University of Wisconsin Extension have joined forces on a project called the University Learning Store. Still in its initial stages, the concept is designed to create an alternative credentialing process through modular content, skills assessments, and services for students—such as tutors, coaches, and counselors—similar to programs being offered by Coursera and Udacity, according to a report in Inside Higher Education.
The group wants to be able to offer students different products from a variety of providers through the University Learning Store. Online content will include courses where instructors interact with students through the material, just like current online courses but for a shorter period of time. There will also be direct assessment through tests, papers, and projects, along with courses that award microdegrees for proficiency in job-related soft skills.
The University Learning Store would also be based on the “freemium” model where some content is free but students would also have to pay for some services. Assessment, tutoring, and other support services would be fee based.