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5 lessons learned from developing and launching microcredentials online

By Jessica DuPont
Executive director, Market development and the student experience
Oregon State University Ecampus
Aug. 31, 2022

Editor’s note: This post has been excerpted from the WCET Frontiers blog.

Oregon State University launched its first microcredentials in the fall of 2021, with initial offerings available in winter quarter 2022. Currently, all Oregon State microcredentials are offered online. They are for-credit and consist of at least three courses and 8 credits that follow OSU’s quarterly term calendar.

Our centralized online learning division, Ecampus, spearheaded this initiative with our associate provost at the helm. While all internal OSU partners were highly supportive, it was somewhat challenging for a four-year public institution that has offered traditional credentials for more than 150 years.

Here are five lessons we learned from our early experiences in developing and launching microcredentials.

1. A better understanding of the audience for microcredentials will be essential for successful recruitment and future enrollment. For example, are microcredentials primarily for current students in your degree programs? New students only interested in a microcredential? Students interested in stacking a microcredential into a degree at some point? These audiences all have different needs and entail different recruitment tactics and support services.

2. Think through and design an optimal student experience, especially for brand new students starting at your institution with microcredentials. You’ll need to consider what student support looks like. Often, advising isn’t accessible for nondegree students pursuing courses. How will they feel a sense of belonging or connection to your university?

3. There is low consumer awareness for microcredentials. Building awareness for this type of alternative credential and its benefits needs to happen in tandem with recruitment efforts.

4. Leveraging established marketing tactics and budget. Marketing individual microcredentials is almost like marketing individual courses, which is not scalable. Better understanding how to leverage marketing/promotion with current efforts to market your online offerings will be more efficient and scalable.

5. Is what you’re offering in-demand? Consider collaborating with corporate entities or professional organizations to develop and offer microcredentials that will help upskill and reskill their workforce. Employer recognition and endorsement of microcredentials will also help to boost awareness and recognition of microcredentials.


Read more insights on microcredential adoption, implementation and evaluation from Oregon State’s Jessica DuPont and Sherri Braxton of University of Maryland, Baltimore County on the WCET Frontiers blog.

2 Comments

  • How are you handling learner pathways and supporting learners in choosing pathways in this process? I think this is one of the biggest design challenges that we will have moving forward with microcredentials, and I am curious to see how others are addressing the issue.

  • Jessica Dupont says:

    Thanks for reaching out, David. That’s a great question! Supporting learners in this shorter, standalone experience is something OSU Ecampus is intentionally designing, especially for new, non-degree students starting at our institution with microcreds. First, they are coded in a way that we have specific communication plans tailored to their interests and needs. A small team at Ecampus also designed a community site within our LMS (Canvas) to connect them with University resources, and faculty and student services at Ecampus. We intend to conduct some additional needs assessments to see how else we can improve supporting these learners and ensuring a positive learning experience.

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