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Making Sense of the Credentials Landscape

Posted on 1/31/2020

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In the last few years, those in the adult education field in California have been discussing the importance of credentials as a way for students to acquire and demonstrate skills and abilities that are useful for the workforce and further education. As we have learned, however, the credentials landscape is a bit like the Wild West and not always easy to make sense of.

Credential Engine has stepped into the space as a possible solution to making sense of the ever-growing field of credentials and credentialing. According to a 2019 report by Credential Engine, there are just over 730,000 unique credentials in the US alone, more than double its initial estimate from 2018, and that number may rise even higher as they continue to gather data from across the country. Credential Engine also poses the basic question, is the number of credentials too many or not enough for the needs of America’s secondary and post-secondary student body and the variety of the nation’s workforce sectors? (To learn more about the state of the credentials field, read Credential Engine’s Counting U.S. Postsecondary and Secondary Credentials - A 2019 Report.)

Credential Engine hopes to organize the field through a variety of actions:

  • Publish – This is probably the most important task, as it helps those in the field, both practitioners and credential seekers, have a complete picture of the credentials that exist and information about those credentials, including cost, location, competencies, quality assurance information, and how credentials are related.

  • Understand – Credential Engine understands that there is all manner of terminology to describe credentials (for example, tuition vs. cost vs. price), and it hopes to create a platform to evenly compare credential options despite the many ways that credentials are described.

  • Partner – Credential Engine wants to help make the connection better between people earning credentials and employers and other organizations that need people with specific credentials.

  • Build – Credential Engine sees a lot of potential for developers to create apps and other technology tools that will easily and seamlessly collate data for users to learn about credentials and credentialing programs.

  • Champion – The popularity of credentials has mushroomed because of a basic notion that traditional credentials like diplomas and degrees are not the only way to demonstrate learning, abilities, skills, and competencies. There needs to be more understanding and acceptance of the variety of credentials that many entities are creating.

Credential Engine and perhaps other organizations in the future look to help many people across the country make sense of this growing landscape. We encourage you to learn more at Credential Engine’s website.

Article: Credential Engine is a Foundational Building Block for Expanded Recognition of Learning Credentials by Kelly Walsh at EmergingEdTech

OTAN Article: Are Micro-credentials the Future of Teacher Professional Development?

OTAN Article: The Conundrum for College Students

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OTAN activities are funded by contract CN180031 from the Adult Education Office, in the Career & College Transition Division, California Department of Education, with funds provided through Federal P.L., 105-220, Section 223. However, OTAN content does not necessarily reflect the position of that department or the U.S. Department of Education.