Empowering Learners: Learner Sovereignty over their Micro-credential Data – Digital Promise

Empowering Learners: Learner Sovereignty over their Micro-credential Data

February 22, 2024 | By , and

Leading the Sector in Competency-Based Performance Assessment Through Collaboration

Micro-credentials (MCs) are digital certifications of a person’s skills or set of skills; they provide pathways to personalizing and recognizing learning. MCs allow organizations to verify the competencies and skills their learners demonstrate, regardless of where and how they learned them. Digital Promise has been the leading voice in competency-based performance assessment since 2014, with the most comprehensive library of micro-credentials of its kind and the largest public platform serving the education field.

Digital Promise’s nationally recognized work in building a comprehensive platform of competency-based micro-credentials gives us unique insight into the data and technical processes for micro-credential management, as well as learner needs, enabling the visibility of their learning throughout their life. Digital Promise’s work at the intersection of educators, researchers, technology leaders, and communities has positioned the Micro-credential Platform as the only platform provider in the education field that works and collaborates across each critical element of credentialing: content, platform, systems, and implementation, and policy and advocacy.

Commitment to Equity, Inclusion, and Learner Sovereignty

The Micro-credential Platform (MCP) is an innovative platform based on equity and inclusion—centering and prioritizing the needs of historically and systematically excluded learners aligned with Digital Promise’s Impact Goals. Learners earning MCs need reliable, transferable, and recognizable digital credentials and signifier badges to have their competencies formally recognized. While some platforms may offer certificates and badges for attendance or seat time, Digital Promise’s MCs are the only verifiable credentials on the market aligned with a rigorously designed, research-based process certifying competency demonstration meeting the Open Badge Standard. Earners can feel confident their digital credentials are verifiable with metadata and will be internationally recognized and endorsed. In essence, learners have access to a rigorous competency-based assessment that leads to digital badges that learners control.

The MCP prioritizes learner sovereignty over their data and honors learner variability and learner goals while providing multiple learning pathways.

Learner-centered Micro-credential Data Practice

By design, the MCP collects a minimal amount of personally identifiable information (PII) and enables learners to consent voluntarily to provide other limited background information. The learners’ consent to share their data can be withdrawn at any time through their accessible individual user profile, which they have full control over. Any learner who visits the MCP can freely explore the competency-based micro-credentials available on the MCP—anytime, anywhere—and they are only required to create an account when applying for a micro-credential.

Learner Privacy and Ownership of Data

By design, the MCP offers learners the ability to opt in and out of sharing their PII and other background information at any time. Learners have an option not to share their data with their affiliated organizations. While protecting individual learners’ privacy and their ownership of data, the MCP offers micro-credential issuers access to de-identified MC data reports to support their data-informed decision making. The de-identified reports provide an additional layer of autonomy and data sovereignty for the learners, enabling them the right to control and maintain their own data however they see fit.

For MC issuers or organizations who wish to receive non-anonymous reports to provide coaching support or incentivize their associated learners, the learner must provide consent directly through their accessible individual user profile. The learner’s affiliated organization cannot provide consent for disclosing or sharing data on behalf of their associated learner. The data of the learners who have not consented to data sharing may be included in aggregated form, but their privacy will be protected through anonymization of the data, respecting the learners’ data ownership.

Such practices will continue to guide the MCP development strategy that supports learning, professional, postsecondary, and non-linear pathways for historically and systematically excluded learners through a learner-centric design that prioritizes learner privacy, learner ownership of data, and learner variability.

Transparency throughout the Data Life Cycle

Providing learners with sovereignty over their data requires transparency and communication with various partners. Digital Promise acknowledges our responsibility for how MCP data is used and shared internally and externally. By sharing our policies and practices, the MCP promotes transparent and accountable MCP experiences and advocates for other organizations to adapt and build upon the same principles and values.

The MCP and the Digital Promise website publicly provide terms of use statements, privacy policies, and data ownership and data-sharing policies to all users in plain, accessible language. The Credentials initiative at Digital Promise also clearly communicates data practices with internal and external partners. Digital Promise not only wants to do right by the learners’ data; we also want learners to be informed and educated about what that means and what these practices are.

The Micro-credential Program is committed to continuing these data-related practices in a transparent and accountable way—from acquisition to processing and analysis to dissemination to disposition, ensuring the MCP adheres to inclusive and equity-centered values through a continuous process of reflection and adjustment.

This blog post is part of a series exploring the design of micro-credentials for equity and inclusion throughout the year. If you are interested in learning more about micro-credentials, check out our current offerings on the Micro-credential Platform or visit our website to learn more about our services.

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