Research Whitepaper: Digital Micro-Credential Efficacy and Impact on Learner Confidence

Research Whitepaper: Digital Micro-Credential Efficacy and Impact on Learner Confidence

This Research Whitepaper details the findings of a research study conducted in 2022 over a six-month period, in collaboration with a group of international cross-sector partners, as part of a Global Victoria EdTech Innovation Alliance initiative. The research results show that learners readily embraced the more detailed information included in the credential – such as a detailed description of the credential components, how learners were assessed, and the links out to Rich Skill Descriptors (RSDs) that provided job market context. Credentialate’s Personal Evidence Record gave learners next-level understanding of what they had learnt and how they could apply it in their careers. The research project provided the opportunity to share knowledge and practice across providers and EdTech (Education Technology) organisations and generate new ways of working in the emerging areas of micro-credential and skills ecosystems.

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Executive Summary 

Through its vision, support, and funding opportunities, Global Victoria is building its strength and capability in education technology (EdTech) innovation, enabling EdTech organisations based in Victoria, Australia, to generate and excel in global education solutions. One funded initiative has been the establishment of the “Global Victoria EdTech Innovation Alliance”, delivered by EduGrowth to support collaboration between Victorian EdTech companies, education providers, researchers, and international organisations to road test and promote the learning impact of EdTech products for export’ (Global Victoria, 2023). During 2022, Edalex was successfully awarded a place in a research program to activate testbeds and run efficacy trials of EdTech products in Australian and international settings.

The focus for the Edalex project aimed at addressing the increasing need for education institutions to provide appropriate tools and resources for learners to bridge the learner-to-earner gap and meet the needs of industry for job-ready graduates. The Edalex project engaged two higher education institutions and their learners, as well as employers, and education nonprofit organisation in the skills ecosystem to explore their respective lenses of perception around personal evidence of skills and the best way to communicate this to future employers. Edalex’s project investigated the efficacy of the personalised Personal Evidence Records, produced by their Credentialate platform, with the ultimate aim of improving employability outcomes for learners and helping address a talent shortage for employers.

We are at a global inflection point with regard to the higher education response to business talent pipeline development. The opportunity to collaborate on this important topic cross-continentally via the Global Victoria EdTech Innovation Alliance initiative provides insight into the field with regard to how to best leverage the skills ecosystem to the advantage of learners and their potential employers. Edalex was excited by the opportunity to work with three prestigious partners in skills and education development and delivery to research the efficacy of Personal Evidence Records and our Credential Evidence Platform. The Global Victoria EdTech Innovation Alliance research project is Edalex’s inaugural investigation into whether a detailed evidence record improves learners’ confidence in expressing their workplace skills and gives employers the ability to use information contained in the evidence record as a signal to hire. At the conclusion of the project we had collected the data we needed to understand how the Personal Evidence Record is currently perceived, and to gain insights into future directions for improving the Credentialate platform product.

Edalex’s project partner, the University of Dayton, was keen to explore a process for deeper understanding of skill development in its current student cohort. For them, alternative digital credentialing is a means towards immediate impact for jobs, internships and co-ops and gives students a deeper understanding of the various levels of mastery achieved in their sub-competency development. Insights from the digital micro-credentials issued to successful students serve to strengthen and create greater authentic understanding for the students as they look to transfer and apply these skills within the workforce and post-secondary education sectors.

Similarly, project partner University of Melbourne was interested in exploring the perceptions of their post-professional learners, to understand whether Personal Evidence Records add value to the University’s digital micro-credentials. The University was also interested in gathering feedback from the employers of the digital micro-credential learners, who often fund their study, around the potential value of detailed digital micro-credentials with embedded Personal Evidence Records in the post-professional landscape.

Education Design Lab, an education nonprofit organisation, provided their 21st century skills framework as a building block for the project’s skills definitions and afforded their invaluable experience in both micro-credentialing and research methodologies. The project’s research aligned to the Lab’s impact models – specifically the analysis of the efficacy of digital micro-credentials and their value as a signal to meaningful employment. All partners in the Global Victoria EdTech Innovation Alliance project were aligned in their shared desire to improve employability outcomes for learners and use the research results to inform future policy and practice around skill transparency and personal evidence benefits for participants in the learner/earner ecosystem.

Looking across the research data sets from the Universities of Dayton and Melbourne at the conclusion of the project, Edalex was able to gain insights into learner and employer perceptions across the initial professional and post-professional career trajectories.

Key findings

  1. Digital micro-credentials that are designed with authentic assessment and are work-focussed will have high relevance and value for students and working professionals.
  2. Learners are generally more confident in communicating  knowledge of their skills following receipt of a detailed Personal Evidence Record embedded into their digital micro-credential.
  3. Showing evidence of capabilities in a digital credential, particularly associated with micro-credentials, is likely to highlight to employers that the (l)earner has the specialised skills the employer is seeking.
  4. When education providers map and align curriculum and assessment to skills and industry frameworks, there is increased course relevance for what Michelle Weise (2021) calls ‘working learners’ as they can apply to their current or future workplace contexts.


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Lead Authors

Associate Professor Josephine Lang, PhD – Academic Director Educational Innovation, Melbourne School of Professional and Continuing Education (MSPACE), University of Melbourne

Josephine Lang holds a PhD from the University of Melbourne, Australia, in the use of digital multimedia to support professional learning of pre-service teachers. Associate Professor Josephine Lang holds a Master of Education, Master of Environmental Studies and Bachelor of Education (Secondary teaching). Josephine has worked across Australian universities for over 20 years in academic leadership roles that focus on improving learning and teaching. Currently, Josephine leading the policy implementation of micro-credentials  at the University of Melbourne, working collaboratively to explore and generate new ways of thinking about, and learning within, Continuing and Professional Education.


Melinda O’Halloran – Project Manager and Business Analyst, Edalex

Melinda has 20 years’ experience in people and outcomes management at program, project and business operations levels and is qualified in the application of AIPM, Agile and Critical Path methodologies. She has enjoyed long-term project engagements in the education, communications, building, retail, banking, accounting, entertainment and infrastructure industries, and has proven leadership skills and the ability to unite teams comprising diverse resources.

Melinda O'Halloran - Senior Project Manager, Edalex

Contributing Authors and Project Partners

Margo Griffith – Head of Business Development, Edalex

Margo’s in-depth knowledge and experience of micro-credentialing is the result of working in and with higher education providers and EdTech leaders, nationally and internationally. She is passionate about the positive impact of technology within education and the enablement of lifelong learning and agility. Margo is a connector at heart and is a strong advocate for diversity and inclusion in all areas of life.


Brian LaDuca – Executive Director, IACT, University of Dayton

Brian LaDuca is the founding Executive Director of the Institute of Applied Creativity for Transformation (IACT) at the University of Dayton where his research is focused on the relationship between 21st Century skills in the workforce and competency-based curriculum in post-secondary education. He has been with University of Dayton for ten years where he leads the ongoing evolution of all micro-credentials and badges for the University of Dayton students, faculty and staff. He also steers the ongoing city-wide collaboration of The GEM, Dayton’s emerging education incubator with a mission to maximise possibilities for city educators to be innovative change agents for developing new teaching and learning solutions to help Dayton’s community and society progress. Since 2015 he has presented his research and work across the world including keynote presentations and workshops in Mexico, Switzerland, Peru, and China. He has degrees from the University of Illinois-Urbana, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, University of Dayton (2023); and is lovingly supported by his wife Susie and his twin boys, Michaelangelo and Jaoquin and their sister, Giada.


Naomi Boyer – Senior Director, Skills + Data Ecosystems, Education Design Lab

Naomi identifies product solutions that support the successful deployment and scaling of the Lab’s 21st Century Skills Badges by facilitating the dialogue between the Lab, educational institutions, industry, and product vendors. She utilises her technology background, higher education administration experience, and community engagement techniques to design solutions that work within the blossoming digital credential ecosystem.


Project Partner

Karyn Giglietta – (former role) Product and Customer Experience Lead, University of Melbourne, Melbourne School of Professional and Continuing Education (MSPACE)

Karyn Giglietta was (during the research project) a member of the leadership team at the Melbourne School of Professional and Continuing Education (MSPACE)at the University of Melbourne. Karyn  has worked in management and leadership roles for over 25 years across a diverse organisational settings , industries and sectors, including higher education, not-for profit, retail and consumer, music publishing, and design. The range of roles she has held have been underpinned by three core areas of interest- stakeholder relationship management, customer experience, and product development, culminating in her current position of Product and Customer Experience Lead.


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