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Navigating Microcredentials and VFR

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Thu Aug 17 2023

Navigating Microcredentials and VFR
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Many years ago, I began working on my private pilot’s license at a small airport in northwestern Wyoming. On a clear day, with the Grand Tetons as a backdrop, I could see for nearly 100 miles. These days, working with microcredentials, the view is often limited. There is no ground support radar, and many of us are flying with visual flight rules (VFR).

VFR guides a pilot before embarking on a journey. Private pilots must adhere to the specified cloud clearance requirements and maintain visual reference with the ground while flying above a cloud layer (kind of important near mountains). This helps ensure the pilot’s and passengers’ safety during the flight. Allow me to offer some visual flight rules for microcredentials regardless of whether you’re sitting at the airport plotting your course and waiting for clear skies, or already aloft.

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What is a microcredential? In general terms, it is a short, competency-based program that allows a learner to demonstrate mastery in a particular area. That’s a pretty broad definition. Think about the glut of offerings on LinkedIn; they run the gambit from light-lift to in-depth. Even our accreditors (such as the Federal Aviation Administration) don’t offer much on microcredentials beyond warning of breaching the golden rule of the higher education credit hour.

However, there are some ways to ensure a clean takeoff and safe landing. Start with a focus on the target audience, define length, set expectations of rigor, determine the value-add for the learner, collect labor market data, and do some market research. Insist on accessibility. Maybe an engagement-rich, data-heavy, immersion course with an emphasis on leadership and innovation is beyond your internal training capacity at the moment. But one place to start is by partnering with a reputable university that offers executive education and lifelong learning opportunities.

Still looking for a flight plan? Connect with one of your most engaged employers and discuss the skill sets of their most successful hires. Work with a university to map those skills back to graduation requirements and even program objectives. Host a reception with company leadership and course completers. There are many training solutions out there, which leads me to a caveat—remember to protect the brand. You won’t do your organization any favors by offering a huge catalog of inferior certificates and courses outside of your brand’s wheelhouse. Also, develop a microcredential development strategy that improves courses over time—revise after the first run based on learner progression, then update on a schedule determined by learner data and success outcomes.

We are all still utilizing VFR. Fly around the clouds, even when the darkest cloud is in the office down the hall. Your visibility may not be 100 miles, but if you maintain visual reference with the ground and have a general flight plan, clear skies will be ahead. Microcredential Airlines is still a small operation. No one is coming down the aisle with a light snack and beverage. There is no invitation to sit back, relax, and enjoy the rest of the flight. You must take the stick and keep this bird in the air.

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