EDUCATION LINKS CASE STUDY
Using EduBits platform to deliver micro-credentials
Researchers investigating the suitability of EduBits for delivering NZDE-related micro-credentials investigated three possible pathways and concluded the platform can satisfy key criteria for good delivery and assessment.
Consultation with industry, learners and ITPs
Engineering e2e funded a feasibility study to investigate the possibility of delivering micro-credentials on the New Zealand Diploma in Engineering (NZDE) through EduBits.
After consultation with industry, learners and other institutes of technology and polytechnics (ITPs), Researchers Hana Cadzow and Richard Nyhof, Otago Polytechnic, concluded that the EduBits platform has the flexibility to satisfy the key criteria for good engineering micro-credentials delivery and assessment – that it be relevant to industry and learners; robust; transparent to learners, providers and industry; time and cost effective.
What are micro-credentials?
Micro-credentials are small packages or ‘chunks’ of learning designed to meet specific learner needs.
See our info sheet on micro-credentials/feasibility studies
The EduBits platform
EduBits is a platform developed by Otago Polytechnic to deliver micro-credential sized learning units, of 4 to 30 credits. An EduBit could correspond to a micro-credential or several micro-credentials could make up one EduBit
Users are guided to submit evidence of activities for assessment against the EduBits outcomes, criteria and standards. A successful user is awarded an EduBit – some of which are within and some outside the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) system.
Feasibility study considered three possible pathways
The feasibility study considered three possible pathways for delivering NZDE micro-credentials: 1) through NZDE programmes, 2) in partnership with industry, 3) to enhance delivery of NZDE graduate attributes.
1. Micro-credentials in the NZDE
Richard and Hana note that the creation of engineering micro-credentials at Level 6 would make it easier for learners in the workforce to engage with NZDE study while working, benefitting both themselves and their employers.
Work on this pathway is already underway; Otago Polytechnic is collaborating with Unitec to investigate the potential for incorporating micro-credentials into NZDE programmes.
NZBED positive about EduBits platform
In discussions with the New Zealand Board of Engineering Diplomas (NZBED), there was general agreement that portions of the NZDE were deliverable by micro-credentials and Board members were positive about the use of EduBits as a platform should they be introduced.
Some were concerned that micro-credentials could potentially distract from the value and effectiveness of the traditional NZDE pathway, and many expressed a desire to preserve the holistic nature of the NZDE.
“These concerns may be addressed through the design of individual micro-credentials,” say Hana and Richard, “and a robust framework governing the recognition and quality of micro-credentials within the NZDE.”
“Micro-credentials in this setting are not expected to replace traditional NZDE pathways, but rather to supplement them or provide alternative pathways to attract new learners.”
2. Developing micro-credentials with industry
Otago Polytechnic is working in partnership with industry to develop EduBits which meet the specific training needs of a variety of engineering industry groups. Offering micro-credentials in this setting is expected to increase the number of new learners who could potentially go on to complete the NZDE.
Downer, EEA (Electrical Engineers Association) and IPWEA (Institute of Public Works Engineering Australasia) have all expressed interest in this pathway and are collaborating with the polytechnic to develop industry-specific EduBits.
Industry-specific EduBits can be shared across the sector
In 2018, Otago Polytechnic partnered with Fisher Paykel to develop several EduBits to train staff and keep a record or training received. Hana and Richard say that one, for training in the use of centre lathes, is an example of how micro-credentials can be used by others. “While the EduBit was designed in partnership with Fisher Paykel, it is relevant across the New Zealand manufacturing sector and available for use by any employers or individual learners…”
3. Enhancing delivery of NZDE graduate attributes
The third pathway is to use EudBits to deliver micro-credentials focused on the NZDE graduate attributes, as listed in the Dublin Accord. These align with NZQA’s graduate profile for the qualification.
12 graduate attributes: engineering knowledge; problem analysis; design development of solutions; investigation; modern tool usage; engineer and society; environment and sustainability; ethics; individual and team work; communication; project management and finance; lifelong learning.
NZBED emphasises graduate attributes
The NZBED emphasises the role of the graduate attributes in delivering the NZDE, and Capable NZ, a school of Otago Polytechnic, currently delivers the NZDE through assessment against the 12 attributes.
There has, however, been minimal use of this pathway due to various barriers: legislative uncertainty around delivery of the NZDE through a predominantly RPL (Recognition of Prior Learning) route; NZBED concerns about the ability of NZDE content to be successfully RPLed; difficulty with enrolment processes; and a lack of dedicated learning packages around the attributes.
Richard and Hana recommended:
- EduBits are offered as vehicle to deliver micro-credentials bound around the ‘decomposition’ of NZDE courses
- EduBits are offered as vehicle for delivery of industry-led micro-credentials
- An investigation of international Dublin Accord qualifications with regards to Recognition of Prior Learning be undertaken
- NZBED be engaged with regards to regulations around RPL and assessment of graduate attributes
- Policies and processes around enrolment and development of individual learning plans for RPL pathway into NZDE be developed
- Micro-credentials be identified and developed for areas of the NZDE Graduate Attributes
- A feasibility study on using micro-credentials to enable the use the NZDE.
Our thanks to Hana and Richard for their time and advice; if you have any queries please contact firstname.lastname@example.org