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Frequently Asked Questions

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A micro-credential is a noncredit award given when a specific set or subset of skills or competencies has been achieved. Micro-credentials can be aligned or “stacked” to build up to larger credentials or certificates. They can also represent a specialized combination of competencies that are relevant to a particular employment sector.

Montgomery College has adopted the framework established by the University System of Maryland for a series of badges focusing on collaboration, communication, critical thinking, globalism, interculturalism, leadership, problem solving and professionalism. These badges come with dimensions, or competencies, that Montgomery College units can adapt to meet their own needs. Units at the College may suggest other badges that they develop around a set of approved competencies.

A micro-credential looks like an icon as seen below. The College has contracted with Credly for our micro-credentialing platform. Montgomery College micro-credentials will have the same design, but the wording will change to reflect the micro-credential name and the sponsoring program or unit.

micro-credential and badge
micro-credential and badge
Micro-credentials provide students with another way to articulate and document the achievement of specific skills. This is particularly useful when students are seeking further education or employment. Perhaps they haven’t yet finished a degree or certificate, but they still need to be able to describe their skill set to a potential employer. Employees are able to increase or further develop their skills by achieving the competencies within a micro-credential. 

The options are limitless for micro-credentials. Some institutions have developed micro-credentials in leadership, communication, and ethics to name a few. However, it is important to ensure that the micro-credentials are meaningful to employers and other stakeholders. This can be done by working with employers, for example in advisory groups, ensure that the list of skills are relevant to their needs. 

The College will offer two types of micro-credentials to help both speed up the design process, but also allow room to address specific needs.

  1. Collegewide micro-credentials for general employment skills:  The College will be taking the lead in developing generic Collegewide competency lists and badges that align with employer needs nationally.  Often referred to as “soft skills” or “foundational skills” these will include leadership, and communication initially and will expand to cover a host of skills that are pertinent in the job market and useful to help employers or future transfer institutions understand what employees and students know and are able to do. Areas, programs, or units interested in offering these badges will follow a streamlined process to adopt these Collegewide badges and make them appropriate for their areas.

  2. Unit-designed micro-credentials for specific employment skills: A unit may wish to develop their own unique badge that is specific to employer needs.  One example here might be “Basic Workday Skills for New Employees.” Units might work together to design a micro-credential or a series of micro-credentials. As one example, a joint effort between Business and IT might lead to micro-credential called “Basic Budget Skills for IT Entrepreneurs.”
All micro-credentials result from the individual achieving a series of competencies. These competencies can be achieved in or outside of a credit and/or WDCE course(s).  For example, a series of assignments in one or more courses may result in a set of competencies that meet the minimum requirements for a micro-credential. Micro-credentials may be awarded for out-of-class activities as well. For example, students may complete activities to be certified by a national organization; these may also qualify for a micro-credential.
The College is exploring options to include micro-credentials on the transcript. In the meantime, Credly provides the College a location where students or employees can access their micro-credentials and link them to their electronic communications, resumes, and social media accounts such as LinkedIn.
Micro-credentials are noncredit awards processed through the WDCE unit. They are approved within the program, area, and unit. Once that approval process is complete, the micro-credential is approved by the appropriate vice president or designee. After internal approvals have been obtained, the micro-credential will be evaluated by Workforce Development and Continuing Education (WDCE) for inclusion on the list of approved micro-credentials and to be entered into the Credly platform. Anyone planning to develop a micro-credential is required to be in contact with WDCE throughout the process to ensure the micro-credential meets the guideline requirements for the College.
There is no charge to students or College employees at this time.
  1. Gather your workgroup. Stakeholders should include WDCE and credit, employers, advisory group members and transfer institutions if applicable.
  2. Establish the need for a micro-credential. This should be in consultation with your employer advisory group, your College partners particularly in WDCE, and other external stakeholders.
  3. Make sure that the proposed credential doesn’t duplicate any existing credentials. Also make sure to fill in gaps between credentials where possible.
  4. Develop the list of skills needed for the micro-credential. These will be written as work-related competencies. (You can skip this step if you’re using a Collegewide competency list).
  5. Develop a way to assess if a student has achieved the competency. (Yes, we have a template!)
  6. Develop your unit process for awarding the credential. See the resource list for ideas on how this can work.
  7. Get your signature approvals.
  8. Submit your proposal for review.

To facilitate this process, you are encouraged to consult with WDCE staff as needed throughout the development of your proposal to ensure that you have met all of the requirements.

No. In order to create a micro-credential of value, a range of stakeholders needs to support the need and usefulness of the proposed micro--credential it. Your stakeholders should include employers, College partners (WDCE, credit), and transfer institutions (if applicable). 

The workgroup responsible for this initiative has developed these guidelines to be used for micro-credential development and approval:

  • Micro-credentials must provide evidence of demonstrated value, relevance and alignment with external associations or organizations (e.g., employers, four-year institutions, industry representatives).
  • Micro-credentials should be developed, when applicable, as a collaboration between external stakeholders (e.g. employers, 4 year institutions, industry reps, professional associations) and MC credit and workforce faculty/staff/administrators.
  • Micro-credentials should be described as a set of competencies.
  • Micro-credential proposals must provide evidence that there are sufficient competencies demonstrated to warrant the issuance of the micro-credential.
  • Micro-credential proposals must indicate how each competency will be assessed. Each proposed micro-credential must have an associated rubric or other forms of evidence to assess successful achievement of the competencies.
  • Each proposal will provide a process for evaluating student achievement of the competencies.
  • Each proposed micro-credential must have a justifiable expiration date.
  • Each program proposing a micro-credential must obtain required Montgomery College approvals.
  • Micro--credential proposals should be reviewed by the responsible individuals in WDCE or the areas/divisions responsible to determine if it overlaps with existing credentials or industry certifications and to identify any competency gaps.

There are two parts to the award process. 

  1. At the unit level, you’ll need to decide on the following: (This information will be included in your proposal.)
    • How will information about the micro--credential be disseminated to students?
    • How will students apply?
    • How will applications and assessments be reviewed?
    • Who will sign off?
    • Where will student applications be stored?
    • How will results be communicated to students?
    • What is the timeline for these steps?
  2. A staff person in WDCE will be available to help you with next phase of the award process.
    • Once your proposal has been accepted, this person will enter the list of competencies into Credly and work with you to ensure that the badge artwork is correct.
    • Once you’ve determined that a student has achieved the list of skills, you’ll send the information to the WDCE coordinator who will enter that student’s information to the platform.
    • The system will send an email to the student using College email that their badge is ready to claim.