Skills and competencies are the new hiring currency. As employers move away from degrees as the proxy for the technical and non-technical skills they need, searchable micro-credentials are a way to discover a diverse talent pool.
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Plug and Play
Assessments and Other Services
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Our Partners Pioneering vsbl
Adult Education at the School District of Lee County (Fla.)
Community College of Philadelphia
Higher Education Regional Alliance
Northwestern Michigan College
Ready4Life/Cities of Learning
St. Mary’s University
Semester at Sea
University of Detroit Mercy
University of Maine System
University of South Florida
Unity in Africa
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a micro-credential?
Educational credentials are awarded upon successful completion of an identified scope of learning (think: diplomas, degrees, certifications). A micro-credential is more focused, discrete and, if you measure learning by seat time or instructional hours, shorter in duration than a credential typical to higher ed. Successful learning done to earn a micro-credential can be awarded in the form of a digital badge.
What are digital badges?
A digital badge is a validated indicator of accomplishment, skill, quality, or interest that can be earned in many learning environments (HASTAC). It is the portable, transferable technology used to display the successful completion of learning. The Lab’s 21st Century Skill digital badges represent eight in-demand, employability skills that cut across job roles and sectors and are critical in a dynamic learning and working environment (Collaboration, Creative Problem Solving, Critical Thinking, Empathy, Initiative, Intercultural Fluency, Oral Communication, and Resilience).
What makes the Lab’s micro-credentials unique?
The Lab’s micro-credentials were co-designed with 20 colleges and 60 employers and target the most in-demand universal skills in the emerging job market of the future. Beyond the methodical process used to design them, what makes the Lab’s micro-credentials unique is the set of “core four” sub-competencies associated with each skill. Every skill has a more discrete set of skills associated with it (e.g., playing soccer requires stamina, footwork, agility, etc.). 21st century skills are no different. Identifying these “core four” skills allows individuals to get a better handle on their skills and target areas for continued growth and improvement.
What is the difference between the Toolkit, Plug + Play, and Hosted?
The learning content associated with each model is the same, but how it is organized and provided to you is different. In all cases, you as the coordinating institution/organization deliver a learning experience using the Lab’s validated, established and pressure tested quality framework, which consists of 8 broad digital credential competencies, each with 4 associated sub-competencies. If your goal is to issue the Lab’s badges, then you must use the Plug + Play or Hosted options.
Toolkit – Get familiar with the framework and content by combing through the library of resources that include a combination of files and links to curated resources. This is our most do it yourself model for getting started with 21st Century Skills Digital Microcredentials. The Toolkit does not include the proving ground assessments, nor provide you with the capability to issue the Lab’s badges.
Plug + Play – Comprehensive online modules that can be “plugged” into your learning management system (LMS) via an enabling technology tool called Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI). We can use LTI 1.0 or LTI Advantage 1.3, depending upon your technology systems to create a single sign on experience for learners. In this model, learners login to your LMS and gain access to “play” the 21st Century Skills Digital Microcredential content that you have released in your course.
Hosted– This option includes the same comprehensive online modules that are included in plug + play, but provides the learning environment for learners to directly log into. This is the best option for those that a) do not have an existing LMS, b) are working with learners that do not have credentials for the institutional LMS, or c) are utilizing an alternative delivery model that requires direct access to the system.
What is the difference between vsbl and the Lab’s version 1.0 of the Badge Toolkit?
Based upon what we learned from our partner institutions that have utilized the Lab Badge Toolkit 1.0 AND to continue to maintain and provide relevant content updates to our resources, we’ve created version 2.0. vsbl is our delivery platform that provides additional delivery options, real-time updates to our content so you can remain current and access to the Badge Toolkit 2.0 Library.
Previously, our Badge Toolkit was freely accessible from our website. While this resource is still freely available, it is being delivered to you via vsbl.
What are the Lab’s Auto-Assessments and how do they differ from the Proving Grounds Assessments?
Auto-graded assessments (or auto-assessments) are an automated equivalent to the Lab’s Proving Grounds Assessments in that although they use the same criteria to assess learner competency, they do not require a facilitator or instructor for grading, thereby making it easier to scale.
Results on the assessments are reported at the criteria level so that learners receive feedback on their performance on each individual criteria measured, as well as their overall performance.
Auto-assessments are available in two different technologies and can be implemented at the individual sub-competency level, the capstone level, or both.
Are there any additional fees to use the Lab’s Auto-Assessments?
The auto-assessments have associated with them either a $10/license or $20/license fee (depending upon the technology selected) to offset the direct cost to the Lab.
What are Capstone Assessments?
Capstone Assessments are auto-graded assessments implemented at the conclusion of a micro-credential course either in place of (or in addition to) the sub-competency level auto-assessments.
Capstone Assessments are available in four industry specific scenarios: (1) Information Technology, (2) Healthcare, (3) Manufacturing, and (4) Construction & Trades.
What are the two technologies used for the Lab’s Auto-Assessments?
The Lab offers its auto-assessments in two different technologies:
- Muzzy Lane, which is a Smart Chat platform to help learners in today’s increasingly virtual learning environment.
- Talespin, which is an XR (extended reality) platform to help learners learn faster, validate their skills, and find upward mobility in the workforce.
How do I get started?
We recommend you review the model comparison chart at the top of this page, where you’ll find pricing and links to sign-up. And, of course, reach out if you have any questions!
For general inquiries, contact our team at firstname.lastname@example.org
For technical support, contact our team at email@example.com
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