Australian universities have enthusiastically invested in the development of stackable micro-credentials over the past two years, initially encouraged by federal government support in 2020, and buoyed by increasing interest during lockdown among adult workers.
Like most universities, Curtin University in Western Australia (with over 59,000 student enrolments in 2020) was focused on providing high quality learning experiences to its existing students last year while responding to the pandemic. Curtin has a reputation for high impact research and innovative course offerings. It was important for the university to continue to find ways to adjust its offer to the changing demands of learners in the professional market.
Curtin made the decision to partner with Curio to develop a series of micro-credentialed online short courses addressing five globally-relevant themes: digital mindset; future of work, influence and persuasion; innovation and leadership.
These Curtin Credentials deliver high quality, stackable postgraduate micro-credentialed content online, with each representing about thirty hours of learning. The audience is post experience learners and those wishing to upskill into areas of new industry relevance and 21st century skills development.
Our approach and key process innovations
Curio brings extensive experience in the micro-credentials space. We advise universities, training providers and professional bodies on the operating model, market strategy, and pricing of these credentials. We then work in partnership to design, develop and sometimes deliver these new learning experiences. Our approach is built on our experience in the development of thousands of hours of online learning for institutions all around the world, bringing the following principles as essential to creating transformational learning.
In the context of this project, Curio Faculty were initially recruited via the pool of qualified subject-matter-experts, who are also long-time online educators and facilitators for some of Australia’s leading universities.
Designing a self-directed fully asynchronous credential requires a certain caliber of skills which our Curio Faculty and facilitator community were able to deliver upon. Curio Faculty team members alongside a team of learning designers met with Curtin internal project teams to gather an understanding of the overall course structure, specific requirements for the micro-credentials, and ways of working. Once the product requirements were fully understood, we were able to put together a concrete student-centered learning sequence, including a blueprint that could map the entirety of the micro-credentials suite. Finally, we built the creds in the Canvas learning management system and created an engaging learner experience consistent with Curtin’s brand style guide and LMS templates.
Curio was aware how time-constrained academic units are at the best of times, so the process was designed to be light-touch for the university teaching team, who oversaw the course design quality and consistency. A key project success was six credentials developed in twelve weeks with minimal disruption on the workflow and capacity of university faculty involved.
A relevant and robust product outcome
The following learning sequence model and course pedagogy principles and philosophy supported the 30 hours of student self-directed learning, built around required and professionally aligned learning outcomes. They also had a high emphasis on reflective journaling, connections to industry and sector practice, social discussions, and short-cycle activities of shorter duration to assist after-hours working professionals. The bespoke instructional activities of each credential varied from learner-to-learner type of activities to learner-content activities.
A variety of assessments were also used with opportunities for practice to ensure mastery learning of the defined learning outcomes, hence learners had to model comprehension and achievement through formative practice quizzes linked to each item in the course. The idea was to intersperse practice with instruction as this keeps learners actively engaged through metacognition and self-regulation. If a student is made aware of their progress at regular intervals, they can self-diagnose if and where they require more support, in which they are encouraged to read supplementary materials.
Each course ends with a practice activity where learners are asked to consolidate their learning and bring together evidence of development across the credential. This often was to produce something new and in relation with their direct professional or personal context, and an artefact that had real translatable value.
In terms of media and interactive learning elements, all activities were thoughtfully integrated to support and enhance course content, to break down large amounts of information and to help with learner’s ability to locate their insight in “the real world”.
If you would like to learn more about working with Curio to create courses, please visit the Curio website.
More information about the Curtin Credentials can be found here.