Microcredential Programs at Iowa State University Provide Flexible Education for High-needs Sectors
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Board of Regents member JC Risewick stated that based on his work with Iowa State University business students pursuing microcredential programs for a more in-depth education, their abilities, background, and passion would guarantee them an immediate job offer.

Ann Marie VanDerZanden, associate provost of Iowa State University, stated that microcredentials are condensed disciplinary programs that impart knowledge, skills, and talents through targeted learning. According to her, they provide students a competitive advantage in the workforce and may even encourage them to pursue more education in the future.

Risewick stated, “They’re leaving school with some really specific skill sets that they can use right away.” “Therefore, I believe these are fantastic programs.”
University representatives presented microcredentials and other short-form education possibilities at the Iowa Board of Regents meeting on Wednesday. These programs provide flexibility in learning for conventional students, continuing education students, and people interested in professional development.

According to VanDerZanden, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach has been providing microcredentials, such as its certified crop adviser program, multilingual training and instruction, and more, for more than a century. Through the extension programs, almost 900,000 individuals engaged in microcredential education during the 2022–2023 academic year.

Microcredentials are actually a means of demonstrating, through a variety of means, that proficiency in a certain field has been attained. Because they can be offered outside of the regular academic schedule, they also provide additional flexibility for the student and the institution.
According to VanDerZanden, “a microcredential in and of itself can be very customizable.” It’s not something that is a long-term commitment that takes a lot of time and effort from a learner, but it can be tailored to fit the demands of a specific workforce sector or corporation.

ISU studied the microcredential programs offered by the institution last year in order to identify themes and combine them under a single branding initiative. University administrators stated that they are trying to address the task force’s finding that students didn’t truly understand the importance of these microcredentials.
The advantage of the microcredential space, according to VanDerZanden, is that it enables the documentation of skills and abilities that might not be included in a typical transcript that is discipline-specific.

The Gerdin Leaders Academy at ISU is one program where students can acquire and demonstrate these abilities. It is a two-semester, non-credit, self-paced course. Students finish tasks related to many leadership skill domains, such as professional development, community service, and ethics.

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