The Taxonomy for Credentialing Australasian University Educators (TCAUE)
7 Micro-credentials, Alignment, and Portability
The content and volume of learning of a full TCAUE credential align with AQF Level 8 (Graduate Certificate) requirements. The New Zealand Qualifications Framework (NZQF) and the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) are comparable at levels 1-9 (Department of Education and Training NZ & NZQA, 2015).
A Graduate Certificate “qualifies individuals who apply a body of knowledge in a range of contexts to undertake professional or highly skilled work and as a pathway for further learning” (Australian Qualifications Framework Council [AQFC], 2013, p. 54). The is designed and accredited to enable graduates to demonstrate learning outcomes expressed as knowledge, skills, and the application of knowledge and skills specified in the Level 8 criteria and the Graduate Certificate descriptor.
Graduates “have specialised knowledge within a systematic and coherent body of knowledge that may include the acquisition and application of knowledge and skills in a new or existing discipline or professional area” (AQFC, 2013, p. 54). Although the taxonomy’s academic alignment is with AQF Level 8, an institution may pitch Advanced University Educator outcomes at Level 9, where educators have already achieved at Level 8.
The National Micro-credentials Framework (NMF) defines micro-credentials as “a certification of assessed learning or competency, with a minimum volume of learning of one hour and less than an AQF Award qualification, that is additional, alternate, complementary to, or a component part of, an AQF Award qualification” (Australian Government, 2021b, p. 3). The NZQA (2018) states that a micro-credential “certifies achievement of a coherent set of skills and knowledge” to be 5-40 credits in size (approximately 50 to 400 hours), and has market need from employers or industry or community.
The TCAUE favours the NMF’s direction for micro-credentials to require assessment (Australian Government, 2021b, p. 3). Assessment information is published by each provider in the Credential Outline, and a full TCAUE Credential is certified by CAULLT (see Chapter 18), only if there is evidence that the learning has been assessed and moderated by the provider. The Credential Outline also specifies the nature of the credit and equivalent AQF level, which is in keeping with the NMF, which states that a micro-credential in the taxonomy will “clearly stipulate credit-recognition”, where the micro-credential is recognised “for the provision of specified or unspecified credit or advanced standing” (Australian Government, 2021b, p. 3).
“Portability of micro-credentials is enhanced when there is a high level of trust between the issuing authority and another body seeking to recognise the credential” (UA, 2021, p. 9).
TCAUE credentials offer portability for educators throughout Australia and New Zealand, as the taxonomy aligns with AQF levels and acknowledges relevant micro-credentialing frameworks. Because of alignment with the AQF, it is straightforward for governments overseas to recognise Australasian educational qualifications. As an approved credentialing framework, the TCAUE also allows for recognition of RPL at other institutions.
Key to portability and recognition are integrity, trust and quality assurance. In the TCAUE, institutions provide information about their quality assurance measures and assessment through the Credential Outline (see Chapters 14 and 15). The Outline also requires a portability statement.
Portability is of significance to casual/sessional educators in terms of recognition of professional learning, and can also bring efficiencies to cross-institutional recognition of training and requirements. Due to the integrity of the credentials, currency of professional learning at one institution can be recognised by other institutions. Evidence for portability in and beyond Australasia is embedded in the metadata of a secure digital badge.
Recognition of Achievement
Quality and integrity are assured at provider-level, and there is flexibility as to the type and format of the paper certificate, digital certificate, digital badge, or secure digital badge issued by each institution. Any of these formats may be issued to a learner to acknowledge achievement of a full TCAUE Credential, and also the individual micro-credentials that stack to form a full Credential. Each format acts differently for its recipient, and has a different level of portability and security. Examples are:
- Digital certificates: these are similar in appearance to traditional paper certificates and are made available using a unique web link (URL). They allow for additional information such as a transcript.
- Digital badges: these usually look like a physical badge or token. They are an icon or image used to acknowledge an earned credential, demonstrated skill, or professional achievement. A digital badge differs from an Open Badge (or similar secure badge) as it does not contain metadata.
- Open Badges (or similar secure badge): these contain rich and secure metadata embedded as a portable file, and conform to the Open Badges Standards. Information about who, what, why, where, and when is hard-coded into the metadata of a secure badge, and therefore it provides a comprehensive record of achievement.
Secure badging is further discussed in Chapter 18.
In summary, micro-credentials are well suited to contemporary professional development, offering flexibility, sustainability, portability, and tailored approaches to learning (Dinan-Thompson et al., 2021). Individual micro-credentials (or modules) — which may have different volumes of learning — make up the full TCAUE Credential. Articulation into the full TCAUE Credential takes into account assessment and volume of learning, as explained in Chapter 8.
In Australia, a Graduate Certificate is a short (four subject/unit) postgraduate qualification (AQF level 8).