What are Micro-Credentials? Intro to the basics.

A comprehensive guide introducing the basics of microcredentials - definition, characteristics, and benefits.
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Introduction to Micro-Credentials.

Micro-credentials have gained popularity during the past year. Whether you are an employer or a person in academia, you’ve probably heard about them. That form of certification of learning effects enables an attendee to focus on certain aspects or skills to learn and certify their knowledge in that area. In this article, we will dive deeper into the introduction of micro-credentials, namely:

  1. What are micro-credentials?
  2. What are micro credentials’ characteristics?
  3. What benefits do micro-credentials bring?

Definition of Micro-credentials

Micro-credentials are digital certificates of the learning outcomes achieved as a result of small-scale learning. They confirm levels of fluency in certain competencies, specific skills, or entire skill sets.

What’s the difference between micro-credentials and full degrees?

Micro-credentials differ from traditional diplomas and degrees in that they are more detailed and often focus not on the overall, broad competencies but on specific skills or areas of knowledge. This makes them particularly attractive to people who want to improve their skills without having to undertake long-term studies.

Moreover, micro-credentials can be issued by any trusted entity, not only universities or higher education institutions. 

Characteristics of micro-credentials

When it comes to micro-credentials, their characteristics depend on how the norms are defined by the government. To standardize this on the European level, The European Approach to Micro-credentials defined 10 features of micro-credentials:

  1. Credibility. This characteristic refers to the credibility of the institution that issues micro-credential and quality assurance of internal processes of evaluating skills.
  2. Clarity. Micro-credentials should be measurable, comparable, and understandable. If possible, they should provide clear information on learning outcomes, workload, content, level, and educational offer.
  3. Adequacy. Courses should be updated to market standards and needs.
  4. Valid rating. The criteria that are evaluated for each micro-credential should be transparent.
  5. Stackability. Micro-credentials should be possible to obtain in a modular way to enable flexibility of knowledge acquisition.
  6. Recognition. Those certificates should confirm learning effects and be recognized by competent authorities for academic, training, or employment purposes.
  7. Portability. Easiness of storing and sharing credentials via secure digital wallets (that is also the subject of the biggest challenge right now for particular government bodies).
  8. Student-centered. Micro-credentials are designed to meet the needs of a target group of learners and are updated based on learners’ feedback.
  9. Authentication. Micro-credentials contain sufficient information to verify the identity of the credential holder, the legal identity of the issuing authority, and the date and place of issue of the micro-credential (you can read more on that feature in our last blog post on Verifiability of credentials).
  10. Information and advice. All the content, information, and advice on the matter should be integrated into a lifelong learning model and inclusive for all learners.

Benefits of micro-credentials

Micro-credentials benefit not only learners by providing quicker and more accessible ways to gain useful knowledge and skills, but the benefits of micro-credentials extend to employers, and institutions providing courses as well. Here's how:

For learners, micro-credentials offer a pathway to acquire new skills quickly and demonstrably, enhancing employability and career progression. They are an easy way to acquire and certify skills or specific knowledge of an individual.

For employers, micro-credentials provide a clear indicator of a prospective employee's specific abilities, ensuring a better match between job requirements and the candidate's skill set. Additionally, because micro-credentials have specific characteristics, their authenticity can be checked without the need for manual background checks.

For educational institutions, micro-credentials provide a great way to broaden product offerings as well as having one, decentralized place to store all the credentials. 

Moreover, other benefits of micro-credentials include their potential in promoting lifelong learning. Especially now with the development of AI, the need for continuous skill development is crucial, and micro-credentials offer a practical and accessible means to meet this need.


Micro-credentials are the natural product of changes in the Higher Education market. Traditional degrees are becoming less desirable and this trend to obtain skills “just in time” is progressing even further. Education changes its course to accessibility and adequacy to the market needs. Micro-credentials are meeting that need by providing shorter and more focused curriculum. And everyone in the process gains.

Want to learn more? Read our overview of the micro-credentials framework and what role blockchain plays in the micro-credentials space.

Want to see how blockchain for micro-credentials works?
Contact us at contact@doxychain.com.

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