Micro-Credentials & Digital Badges

Smaller than a minor, a certificate or a degree program, micro-credentials allow students to meet their personalized learning needs by gaining knowledge and skills in areas that are relevant to their academic or professional goals.

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What are micro-credentials and digital badges?

A sample (generic) UB digital badge.

A micro-credential is a credit-bearing academic program that may “stack into” a larger certificate or degree program. Any proposed micro-credential will require the same campus-level departmental/decanal approval process as traditional degree programs. Students who earn a micro-credential will receive a notation on their transcript in recognition of the achievement and will also be awarded a digital badge upon completion.

A digital badge is a digital icon that represents successful completion of a learning experience(s). Although badges do not carry academic credit, they contain metadata, including information regarding the issuing institution, the date earned, the criteria required to earn the badge and the associated evidence related to the awarded badge. University-level badges may be proposed for non-credit activities and experiences that enable students to gain knowledge and skills outside of their academic program. Badge earners can display their badge in a variety of formats, including their ePortfolio, digital résumé and social media sites.

Types of Micro-Credentials

Micro-credentials provide a means to recognize student achievement in a wide range of settings, both credit-bearing and noncredit bearing. There are four broad categories that micro-credentials fall into:

Academic: This type of micro-credentials may be stackable toward a degree, therefore providing students with a motivational path through the university. Academic micro-credentials also allow students to specialize in an area and differentiate themselves academically.

Emergent: Emergent micro-credentials are programs that are inter-disciplinary and/or experimental, and that leverage local autonomy to create new programs that are responsive to the needs of the knowledge economy.

Enhancement: Co-curricular/extra-curricular and other "value-added" digital badges allow students to showcase their diverse experiences and skills.

Post-Traditional: In this category, digital badges may be awarded for continuing education, professional development and other non-degree programs that serve the needs of non-degree students.

Micro-Credential and Digital Badge Proposal Process

Step 1: Determine if micro-credentials are the right solution for your program

Ensure that you are able to respond to the following questions:

1. What is the purpose that your micro-credential will serve?

2. Does your micro-credential fall under one of the following broad categories as defined by the National Association of Colleges and Employers?

  • Critical thinking/problem solving
  • Oral/written communications
  • Global/intercultrural fluency
  • Leadership
  • Teamwork/collaboration
  • Digital technology
  • Professionalism

3. Who is your audience?

4. How will you promote the micro-credential to your audience?

5. How do you know there will be interest in this micro-credential?

Step 2: Develop your micro-credential and submit your proposal

It is highly recommended that you request a consultation with Anne Reed, Director of Micro-Credentials and Digital Badges (annereed@buffalo.edu) prior to submitting a proposal. Anne can help strengthen your idea, assist with instructional design and provide additional guidance as necessary.

Please use the Micro-Credential/Digital Badge Proposal Form and supplemental Alignment Grid (below) to submit new proposals. Once proper signatures are obtained, proposals should be forwarded to micro@buffalo.edu.

Step 3: University-level review

When the proposal is submitted, the Micro-Credential and Digital Badge Faculty Governance Committee will review the proposal and approve it, or recommend revisions. If revisions are recommended, the proposing department/unit should make the suggested changes and re-submit the proposal.

If the proposal is approved, the committee will forward it to the appropriate (undergraduate or graduate) dean for final approval.

Step 4: Badge creation and implementation

Once the proposal is approved, the proposing department/unit should then reach out to Anne Reed (annereed@buffalo.edu) to begin developing the corresponding digital badge.

When the badge has been created, it will then be placed into Credly, where it can be issued to students.

Please allow up to four weeks from the date your proposal is approved, for your completed badge design to be input into Credly and ready to be issued.

Additional Resources

Questions? Email Anne Reed (annereed@buffalo.edu) for assistance.