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From the President

Posted: Friday, December 1, 2017

Response to College Senate Recommendation: Endorsement of the SUNY Micro-Credentialing Task Force: Report and Recommendations

At its November 10, 2017, meeting, the College Senate voted to endorse the SUNY Micro-Credentialing Task Force Report and Recommendations:

SUNY Micro-Credentialing Task Force: Report and Recommendations
Presented by the College Senate Instruction and Research Committee

Overview
Micro-credentials can be non-credit or credit bearing. They can also be stackable, which means that they may contribute toward a minor, certificate, or degree program. Micro-credentials should assist students with earning employment. It is recommended that Buffalo State College explore working with industry partnerships. They should also be approved by the local campus governance and should indicate market need in their proposal. Examples of micro-credentials include but are not limited to badges, MOOCs, and licensure.

Potential Role of Micro-Credentials at Buffalo State College
There is great potential for micro-credentialing at Buffalo State. The development and implementation of micro-credentials can help enhance the education and retention of existing student as well as attract additional student groups. Although Buffalo State has made some efforts toward the development of micro-credentials, there is room for expansion. One example of a successful micro-credential at Buffalo State is the MOOC Igniting Your Everyday Creativity. The potential is there to expand the use of micro-credentials on campus. Currently, Buffalo State offers many certificate programs. Stackable micro-credentials could be developed that can count toward the completion of these certificate programs. When considering developing micro-credentials, it may be worth focusing on programs that already experience a higher percentage of micro-credentials in SUNY, such as disciplines in technology, business, and education. This may help fulfill a need and aid with the transferability of micro-credentials among SUNY institutions. Micro-credentials may go beyond helping traditional students by supporting workforce development initiatives in conjunction with various programs and entities on campus (e.g., the Small Business Development Center or Butler Library).

Another way that micro-credentials may be useful is by helping students achieve specific skill sets. One of the benefits of micro-credentials is to verify, validate, and attest that students have achieved specific skills or competencies. Some micro-credentials can be developed not only to help students when they enter the workforce but also to assist them in gaining basic tools and skills that make them better students and citizens. Micro-credentialing could lead to specialized work opportunities for students. For example, students could serve as peer tutors at the library Reference Desk once they earn certain micro-credentials, which would attest to their capability. Micro-credentials can also assist with retention by providing students with an avenue by which to gain additional confidence and knowledge in specific areas. For example, creating micro-credentials for competencies such as writing, communication, or computer skills could benefit students. Furthermore, offering badges for high-impact practices such as service learning related to urban engagement could provide students with unique skills while achieving experiences that could be valuable to external stakeholders.

Concerns about Micro-Credentials at Buffalo State College
Micro-credentials have many benefits, and there are opportunities to expand the offering of micro-credentials at Buffalo State. Among the concerns remaining about micro-credentials include the need for financial aid assistance for non-credit bearing micro-credentials. Currently, financial aid is focused on students working toward traditional degree programs; however, financial assistance may be needed for students completing micro-credential requirements. Additionally, it is important for the campus to evaluate resources required to support the development and implementation micro-credentials. For example, technology and instructional support is often necessary to develop and implement some micro-credentials. The time and cost required to support both credit and non-credit bearing micro-credentials must be considered. Also, governance and quality control for non-credit-bearing micro-credentials is important. For example, clarity should be provided to distinguish badges that are offered as an approved micro-credential versus badges that students can earn as part of coursework using the Blackboard learning platform.

Recommendations
To ensure quality and oversight of micro-credentials, policies should be reviewed and developed regarding the development, approval, implementation, and review of micro-credentials at Buffalo State. In addition, there should be a central directory of micro-credentials available on the website for Buffalo State College to improve the transparency, accessibility, and promotion of these opportunities. The possibility of including micro-credentials on student transcripts should also be explored. Furthermore, resources that can assist with the development and implementation of micro-credentials at Buffalo State should be examined, such as the Small Business Development Center, Butler Library and library staff, RITE, and other support entities on campus.

I appreciate the College Senate’s endorsement of the SUNY Micro-Credentialing Task Force Report and Recommendations and look forward to the many ways that Buffalo State faculty and staff will use the recommendations in the report to develop programs that will benefit our students and the larger community.

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