At bina, we continually strive to provide a personalised, adaptive, and above all, learner-centred curriculum for our students.
One key way we achieve this is by using micro-credentials.
Haven’t heard of micro-credentials before? You’re not alone– it’s a somewhat new concept. If you stick with us for a few minutes, we’ll explain what micro-credentials are, how we implement them, and why they are an integral part of the future of education.
What are micro-credentials?
Micro-credentials specify and certify the outcomes of short-term learning experiences. They help to break down a large, complex skill into smaller, simpler targets to achieve. Students demonstrate their competence within three areas: skills, knowledge, and dispositions. Micro-credentials keep an objective account of where students stand and where they are headed. In turn, we’re able to use this information to provide a tangible, attainable way for students to work toward specific goals.
In a setting that implements micro-credentials, a student is given very specific mini-goals to achieve within a larger goal. Here’s an example: six-year-old Zara is on her way to becoming a fluent reader. Reading fluently is a massive and complex skill, so instead of receiving a grade to assess her overall reading ability, Zara is assessed via a series of micro-goals. These goals include learning letter sounds, understanding digraphs, and learning phonemes and graphemes. Structuring the learning experience in this way allows Zara to have a clearer understanding of her objectives and gives Zara’s teachers and parents the chance to quickly identify areas that need more attention. In turn, there’s an opportunity for adaptation and personalisation as Zara moves forward in her journey as a reader.
Zooming out a little, we’re not the only ones on board with micro-credentials: In June 2022, the Council of the European Union (EU) adopted a recommendation on an approach to micro-credentials (which of course caught our attention here at bina!). The EU’s recommendation aims to encourage the development, implementation, and recognition of micro-credentials across Europe in multiple sectors, including education.
This recommendation from the EU further confirmed what we already knew: micro-credentials are a powerful tool for setting up an exceptional curriculum.
Why are micro-credentials beneficial to learners?
Many schools report student progress with letter grades, numbers, or percentages. This traditional reporting system is generalised, so students and families miss out on the chance to gain specific information about progress. Associating a letter or grade with a student’s performance often isn’t helpful in displaying what has actually been learned or guiding students in their next steps.
At bina, we break down each larger skill into smaller skills, helping students (as well as their teachers and caregivers) to gain a better understanding of where they stand and what is next. Let’s take a closer look at how we do it: Our curriculum is based on a combination of UK standards, the US Common Core, and International Baccalaureate PYP Standards. We dissected those standards into micro-credentials, which we use as curricular building blocks for our programme. We treat those as curricular building blocks of three types:
- Skills -"I can" - competency
- “I can count to 10.”
- Knowledge -"I understand" - concept/theme
- “I understand the life cycle of a sunflower.”
- Disposition -"I exhibit" - character
- “I exhibit empathy to my peer.”
Each of those components gets filled with micro evidence that either proves a challenge or accomplishment. Through the use of these three types of micro-credentials, we forge real-time valuable feedback and a fast-paced adaptive learning path for all of our learners.
Along with allowing for more personalisation, micro-credentials provide other benefits to learners:
- Encourages students to take responsibility for their own learning. Providing students with explicit learning intentions and success criteria is proven to increase motivation and focus. Micro-credentials give students a sense of agency in their own education journey.
- Gives students a healthier outlook on assessment. We continually remind our students that assessment is not the goal; assessment is just part of the learning process. We’ve found that continuous feedback that is timely and specific (rather than a rigid, larger assessment that is only given every once in a while) gives educators and learners more insight into their progress.
- Promotes a culture of lifelong learning. Micro-credentials provide a powerful way for students to take more ownership of their learning, which results in greater confidence and more self-motivation within their own education. We understand the importance of encouraging curiosity, galvanizing an intrinsic pursuit of knowledge, and instilling the essential mindset that learning never ends.
We’ve found that a curriculum that employs micro-credentials allows for more personalisation and flexibility, providing the opportunity for teachers to respond and adapt to individual students’ progress. We can adjust content, move around groups of students, and scaffold lessons in a way that caters to the current needs of our individual learners. Caregivers have a clear understanding of what their child has achieved and what they need to work on next.
Interested in learning more about our curriculum? Check out this article explaining what we mean by 'precision education'.