edX’s MicroBachelors Program Skills Advisory Council Meets, Discusses Increased Need and Relevancy of Innovative Undergraduate Credential Program
Top voices from foundations, corporations and academic institutions convene to create impactful solutions for the future of work.
Cambridge, MA - edX, the trusted platform for learning, convened the first meeting of the MicroBachelors® Program Skills Advisory Council - a groundbreaking group of select foundations, corporations and academic institutions that work together to solve shared challenges around reskilling and upskilling in order to address the demands of the future workplace. The Council was first introduced with the launch of MicroBachelors programs on edX in early 2020.
Created by edX in partnership with top colleges, universities and Fortune 1000 corporations, MicroBachelors programs offer immediately transferable skills that meet the real-world needs of employers while providing a pathway to a full Bachelor’s degree. The meeting was attended by leaders from the academic institutions offering MicroBachelors programs on edX, in addition to representatives from American Student Assistance (ASA), Walmart and Boeing, who have funded the MicroBachelors program initiative. The Council also hosted guests from IBM, ZipRecruiter, Raytheon and RIT, who provided key insights from their respective industry and academic perspectives.
“When initially announced, the Council’s goal was to identify the core skills and learning pathways that MicroBachelors programs should deliver on. Now, as we face both a global pandemic and an economic downturn, the Council plays an even bigger role in informing and creating MicroBachelors programs that offer meaningful solutions for those who need flexible, affordable and relevant education the most,” said Nina Huntemann, edX Vice President of Learning.
The inaugural meeting, which took place virtually in July, focused on two major topics: credentials and content. Key takeaways from the discussion were around:
- Credentials: There is a real market need for short-term programs that offer immediate payoff to students and companies. It is important to foster collaboration between corporations and academic institutions to evaluate the quality and rigor of credential programs like the MicroBachelors programs in order to increase learner adoption and company recognition. Credit-bearing credentials are critical. Not only do they allow employers to invest in their employees’ future and education, but the credit also provides an additional layer of trust; these programs are from accredited institutions and the rigorous content provides learning that employees can apply on the job.
- Content: Programs must have a robust curriculum aligned with priorities for companies. To achieve this, faculty and corporate L&D experts will need to work together to define what success looks like for the student, university and company. Sharing skills pathways that tie to promotions and greater job opportunities internally at companies can inform the curriculum so that learners can immediately apply skills and knowledge they learn as they go through a MicroBachelors program, not just upon completion. It is important to create content in subject areas that align with entry-level skills across industries and workplaces. To do this, companies and universities can work together to identify what emerging and baseline subject areas should be focused on. In addition, creating programs that stack naturally on top of each other - either as a credit pathway or career pathway - is key. We are also excited to welcome ASA to the Council as the newest funder of the MicroBachelors program initiative.
ASA brings incredible insight around the specific challenges faced by high school students to the Council. “We are very excited to join forces with edX to support the MicroBachelors program, which gives students an affordable and flexible alternative to a traditional four-year degree. This pathway expands access to high-quality courses and skills-based learning, opening the door to a range of education and career options,” said Jean Eddy, ASA President and CEO. “We view this program through the lens of how it will benefit high school students, and we’ll bring that perspective to our partnership and our participation on the MicroBachelors Program Skills Advisory Council. We are committed to helping students graduate high school with a plan, and we are confident that edX can help make that plan a success for millions of students everywhere.”
This year, the portfolio of MicroBachelors programs has expanded to offer six innovative programs. The development of MicroBachelors programs is also supported by the Lumina Foundation, the Truist Foundation, the Jeremy M. and Joyce E. Wertheimer Foundation and the Yidan Prize Foundation. The conversations from the Council meeting will directly inform the development of new MicroBachelors programs in the coming months.
edX is the education movement for restless learners. Together with our founding partners Harvard and MIT, we’ve brought together over 35 million learners, the majority of top-ranked universities in the world, and industry-leading companies onto one online learning platform that supports learners at every stage. And we’re not stopping there—as a global nonprofit, we’re relentlessly pursuing our vision of a world where every learner can access education to unlock their potential, without the barriers of cost or location.