Showcase Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia 2015

The edge: Exploring the potential of micro-credentials in environmental science (#57)

Kate Coleman 1 , Kelly Miller 1 , Jan West 1
  1. Deakin University, Burwood, VIC, Australia

Abstract Content (up to 300 words recommended)

In 2014, Deakin University celebrated 30 years of environmental science courses. Commencing in 1984 with the Bachelor of Applied Science (Environmental Assessment and Land Use Policy), the course has evolved since this time into the Bachelor of Environmental Science (Environmental Management and Sustainability). Securing employment in this field is competitive and graduates need to ensure that their skill set sets them apart from other graduates. We know that graduates can sometimes find it difficult to demonstrate their generic skills. The knowledge, skills and experiences implicit in assessment and assumed in the credential can be difficult to show. Anecdotal evidence suggests the need to explore the opportunities for developing teamwork as an explicit award to provide our graduates an edge when seeking employment. One way to achieve this and indicate achievement and skill is through open digital badges that contain transparent information in embedded metadata behind an image file. In 2015, Deakin University is piloting open digital badge technology to award Hallmarks. Deakin Hallmarks “address this issue by enabling recognition, at the discretion of the course director, of outstanding achievement to Deakin's Graduate Learning Outcomes, contextualised to the discipline” (Oliver, 2015). This trial will investigate how best to make learning more visible for the learners while developing pathways for new opportunities for graduates to demonstrate employability indicators.

 To evaluate the success of digital badging within this course, the perceptions of Hallmarks will be explored through: 1. Introducing the concept to second and third year students in the course at the beginning of 2015; 2. Seeking feedback, initial thoughts and perceptions from the students before the program is launched; 3. Seeking comments and opinions from the Course Advisory Board before implementation on alignment of standards and criteria; and 4. Requesting student views, opinions and thoughts after application and award in late 2015.

Addressing the theme/s of the Conference (up to 200 words recommended)

This showcase will present how important the collaboration and partnership of the course team, advisory board, students and disciplinary context are to developing open criteria and standards for a micro-credential that will add value and credibility for graduates in the new knowledge economy.  As Grant confers, “digital open badges are designed to have value that employers…recognize” (p.11, 2014). The Deakin Teamwork Hallmark in the Bachelor of Environmental Science (Environmental Management and Sustainability) has the potential to augment the award of the degree and to warrant evidence that makes learning visible to enable our graduates to have the competitive edge in a complex working world. We will explore how the collecting of student perceptions and feedback about this trial before, during and after will allow us to tailor the program to suit the needs of this particular student cohort and seek insights into badge effectiveness when they coexist in current ecosystems of valued, relevant and valid credentials.