What is a "MicroMaster's" qualification? It is a new approach to 'credentialling' for the digital age; a "re-imagination of the admissions process" being introduced by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), as that institution launches a new 'blended/online' one-year Masters in Supply Chain Management (SCM).
One of the founding institutions (along with Harvard) involved in the EdX Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) platform, MIT has taken a bold leap into the for-credit online degree world with this pilot programme. MIT News announced this week that the program will allow learners worldwide to take "a semester’s worth of courses in its top-ranked [SCM] master’s program, completely online, then complete [the] MIT master’s degree by spending a single semester on campus." Worthy of note, there will be no admissions requirements, the online coursework will be available for free, and "will be open to anyone". Students who do exceptionally well in the courses and in a comprehensive examination upon the successful completion of the online courses, and who opt to pay "a modest fee" for verified certificates, will be awarded the new "MicroMaster's" qualification which puts them in line to progress to the full masters.
Here at Cave Hill, in a presentation to the Faculty of Social Science's Postgraduate Studies Retreat held earlier this year, I quoted the former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Southern Queensland who suggested that universities in the 21st Century have to be "fast, flexible and fluid" in their efforts to meet the changing needs of learners and be competitive in this digital age. This move by MIT is a small step with big implications. MIT Professor and CEO of EdX, Anant Agarwal described the new MicroMaster’s as "an important modular credential for the digital age, [which] promises to serve as academic currency in a continuous, lifelong-learning world.” He suggested that "It also affords an evolutionary path for universities in the face of mounting costs, and a way to leverage technology to blend online and on-campus learning pathways.”