An integrative literature review of the implementation of micro-credentials in higher education: Implications for practice in Australasia

Keywords: micro-credentials, digital badges, higher education


Micro-credentials research, which includes digital badges, is a relatively new field of study that seeks to inform the implementation, portability and sustainability of the ecology of meaningful delivery. This paper reviews literature relevant to understanding connections between universities’ intent to offer micro-credentials and the environment that is needed to do so. From this integrated study, the paper distils a number of core concerns and identifies some gaps in the literature. One of its primary goals is to clear the ground for the construction of a technical model of micro-credentialing implementation that can be used by the various stakeholders involved in the design and evaluation of new micro-awards. A closely related goal is to help those participating in micro-credentialing research to locate and understand each other’s contributions, as fragmentation in research related to micro-credentials makes progress in the field slow. Hence, this review draws together research in the field to identify research foci and gaps, and then also capture some work by micro-credentialing researchers that directly attempts to model the main relationships in the field. The paper ends with a summary of implications for practice, especially for the Australasian higher education context


Metrics Loading ...


Abramovich, S. (2016). Understanding digital badges in higher education through assessment. On the Horizon, 24 (1), 126–131.

ACODE (2019) Australasian Council on Open, Distance and eLearning website. Retrieved from:

Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2020). Labour Force, Australia. May 2020. 24 June. Retrieved from:

Barabas, C., & Schmidt, J. P. (2016). Transforming chaos into clarity: The promises and challenges of digital credentialing. USA: Roosevelt Institute. Retrieved from:

Callaghan, R. (2019). Surge in university micro-credentials. The Australian Financial Review. Melbourne. 23 May.

Calonge, D., Shah, M., Riggs, K., & Connor, M. (2019). MOOCs and upskilling in Australia: A qualitative literature study. Cogent Education. 6(1). Retrieved from:

Campus Morning Mail. (2019). Micro-credentials: They will be a happening thing. 12 December. Retrieved from:

Carey, K., & Stefaniak, J. (2018). An exploration of the utility of digital badging in higher education settings. Education Technology Research Development. 66(1), 1211–1229. Available at:

CEDEFOP. (2019). Global inventory of regional and national qualifications frameworks 2019: Volume 2: National and regional cases. Retrieved from:

Chanthadavong, A. (2020). Australian government to build AU$4.3 million online microcredentials marketplace. ZDNet. 22 June. Retrieved from:

Coleman, J. (2018). Engaging undergraduate students in a co-curricular digital badging platform. Education and Information Technologies. Springer. 23(1), 211–224. DOI 10.1007/s10639-017-9595-0

Czerniewicz, L. (2019). Unbundling and rebundling higher education in an age of inequality. EDUCAUSE. Retrieved from:

Credential Engine (2019). Making all credentials transparent and revealing the marketplace of credentials. Retrieved from:

DeakinCo. (2019). Retrieved from:

Department of Education, Skills and Employment (2018). Incorporating shorter form credentials into the AQF. Retrieved from:

Department of Education, Skills and Employment. (2019). Performance-based funding for the Commonwealth Grant Scheme. Retrieved from:

Dimitrijevic, S., Devedzic, V., Jovanovic, J. & Milikic, N. (2016) Badging platforms: A scenario-based comparison of features and uses. In D. Ifenthaler, N. Bellin-Mularski & D-K. Mah, (Eds.), Foundation of Digital Badges and Micro-Credentials: Demonstrating and recognizing knowledge and competencies (pp. 141-161). Switzerland: Springer. Available at:

DiSalvio, P. (2016). New pathways to credentialing: The digital badge. New England Board of Higher Education. Available at:

Duffy, C. (2020). The Government wants you to switch from Netflix to an online short course during coronavirus isolation. ABC News, 14 April. Retrieved from:

Dyjur, P., & Lindstrom, G. (2017). Perceptions and uses of digital badges for professional learning development in higher education. TechTrends. 61, 386–392. DOI 10.1007/s11528-017-0168-2

Education New Zealand (2018). NZQA approves micro-credentials. Education News, 1 August. Retrieved from:

EdSurge Guide. (2018). A Lifetime of Back to School: Micro-credentials in Higher Education. Retrieved from:

EDUCAUSE. (2018) The Credential Transparency Description Language. Retrieved from:

EDUCAUSE. (2019). Micro-credentials and badges community group. Retrieved from:

Farmer, T., & West, R. E. (2016). Opportunities and challenges with digital open badges. Educational Technology, 56(5), 45–48. Retrieved from:

Fawcett, K. (2018). Lifelong learning and reskilling: The promise of micro credentials. The Foundation for Young Australians, Newsletter. 21 September. Retrieved from:

Foundation for Young Australians. (2018). The new work reality. Retrieved from:

Gallagher, S. R. (2016). The future of university credentials: New developments at the intersection of higher education and hiring. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press.

Ghasia, M., Machumu, H., & de Smet, E. (2019). Micro-credentials in higher education institutions: An exploratory study of its place in Tanzania. The International Journal of Education and Development using Information and Communication Technology. 15(1). pp. 219–230. Retrieved from:

Gibson, D., Ostashewski, N., Flintoff, K., Grant, S., & Knight, E. (2015). Digital badges in education. Education and Information Technologies, 20(2), 403–410. doi:

Griffith University. (2019). Micro-credentials policy. Retrieved from:

Griffith University (2018). Digital badges policy. Schedule B: Digital badges taxonomy. Retrieved from:

Griffiths, J. (2018). Review of the Australian Qualifications Framework: Discussion Paper. Queensland Tertiary Admissions Centre Ltd. December. Retrieved from:

Hamson-Utley, J., & Heyman, E. (2016). Implementing a badging system faculty development. In D. Ifenthaler, N. Bellin-Mularski, & D-K. Mah, D. (Eds.), Foundation of digital badges and micro-credentials: Demonstrating and recognizing knowledge and competencies (pp.237–258). Switzerland: Springer.

Hickey, D., & Chartrand, G. (2019). Recognizing competencies vs. completion vs. participation: Ideal roles for web-enabled digital badges. Education and Information Technologies, 25, 943–946.

Ifenthaler, D., Bellin-Mularski, N., & Mah, D-K. (Eds.) (2016). Foundation of digital badges and micro-credentials: Demonstrating and recognizing knowledge and competencies. Switzerland: Springer.

IMS Global. (2019). Advancing digital credentials and competency based learning. Retrieved from

Jagger, P. (2019). Digital badging: Is it worth IT? ITNOW. The British Computer Society. December.

Jirgensons, M., & Kapenieks, J. (2018). Blockchain and the future of digital learning credential assessment and management. Journal of Teacher Education for Sustainability. 20(1), 145–156.

Krupnick, M. (2019). As students flock to credentials other than degrees, quality-control concerns grow. Hechinger Report. Retrieved from:

Leaser, D., & Gallagher, S. (2017). Convergence of credentials: How corporations and colleges are teaming up to skill up the technology workforce. EDUCAUSE Review. Retrieved from:

Lewin, A. (2008). Thought leadership in advancing international business research. Basingstoke. England: Palgrave Macmillan.

Liyanagunawardena, T., Scalzavara, S., & Williams, S. (2017). Open badges: A systematic review of peer-reviewed published literature (2011-2015). European Journal of Open Distance and eLearning. 20(2), 1–16.. Retrieved from:

Lumina Foundation. (2019). Counting U.S. Postsecondary and Secondary Credentials. Credential Engine. Retrieved from:

Mah, D. (2016). Learning analytics and digital badges: Potential impact on student retention in higher education. Technology, Knowledge and Learning, 21(2), 285–305.

Markowitz, T. (2018). The seven deadly sins of digital badging in education. Forbes, September 16, 2018. Retrieved from:

McArthur, D. (2018). Will blockchains revolutionise education? EDUCAUSE Review. Retrieved from:

MicroHE. (2019). The MicroHe approach is based on four pillars. Retrieved from:

Morris, B. Dragovich, C. Todaro, R., Balci, S., & Dalton, E. (2019). Comparing badges and learning goals in low and high-stakes learning contexts. Journal of Computing in Higher Education, 31, 573–603.

My eQuals. (2019). Retrieved from:

Noonan, P. (2019). Review of the Australian Qualifications Framework. Retrieved from:

New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA). (2019). Recognising micro-credentials in New Zealand. Retrieved from:

Newby, T., & Cheng, Z. (2019). Instructional design badges. Education Technology Research Development, 68, 1053–1067.

OECD (2019). Getting skills right: Future-ready adult learning systems. Getting Skills Right Series. Retrieved from:

Oliver, B. (2016). Better 21C Credentials: Evaluating the promise, perils and disruptive potential of digital credentials. Deakin University. Retrieved from:

Oliver, B. (2019a). Making micro-credentials work for learners, employers and providers. Deakin University. Retrieved from:

Oliver, B. (2019b). Better credentials: Living, learning and earning in 21C. World Conference on Online Learning, Dublin, Ireland. Retrieved from:

QILT. (2019). Short-term graduate outcomes in Australia. 2019 Graduate Outcomes Survey. October. Retrieved from:

RMIT Creds. (2019). Retrieved from:

Rossiter, D., & Tynan, B. (2019). Designing and implementing micro-credentials: A guide for practitioners. Vancouver: Commonwealth of Learning Knowledge Series. Retrieved from:

Roy, S., & Clark, D. (2019). Digital badges, do they live up to the hype? British Journal of Educational Technology. 50(5), 2619–2636.

Russell, C. (2005). An overview of the integrative research review. Progress in transplantation. 15(1), 8–13.

Sankey, M. (2019). Strategically partnering in co-creating the VLEs of the future. Keynote Address at the Blackboard TLC Asia. Grand Hyatt Hotel, Seoul, South Korea, 14-16 October. Retrieved from:

Saray, V., & Ponte, F. (2019). The evolution of a micro-credential. In Y. W. Chew, K. M. Chan, & A. Alphonso (Eds.), Personalised Learning. Diverse Goals. One Heart (pp. 546-551). ASCILITE 2019 Singapore.

Selvaratnam, R., & Sankey, M. (2019). Micro-credentialing as a sustainable way forward for universities in Australia: Perceptions of the landscape. ACODE 80 Whitepaper. Retrieved from:

SkillsFuture (2019). Retrieved from

Spaulding, S., & Johnson, M. (2016). Realizing employment goals for youth through digital badges. Urban Institute. Retrieved from:

State University of New York (2019). Micro-credentialing implementation groups. Retrieved from:

Tehan, D. (2019) Speech to the AFR Higher Education Summit. 27 August. Ministers for the Department of Education Media Centre. Retrieved from:

Tehan, D., & Cash, M. (2020). Marketplace for online microcredentials. Joint Media Release, Ministers’ Media Centre, Department of Education, Skills and Employment. 22 June. Retrieved from:

TEQSA (2019) Guidance Note: Technology-Enhanced Learning, Version 1.2, 11 April 2019. Retrieved from:

Tierney, G., Horstman, T., & Tzou, C. (2019). Youth co-design of responsive digital badge systems: Disrupting hierarchy and empowering youth. International Journal of CoCreation in Design and the Arts. Available at:

Torraco, R. (2005). Writing integrative literature reviews: Guidelines and examples. Human Resource Development Review, 4(3), 356–367.

UNESCO. (2018). Digital Credentialing Report. Retrieved from:

Valideringsdelegationen (2019). A national strategy for validation. Retrieved from:

Visontay, E. (2020). New $4.3m education website announced by Dan Tehan duplicates existing service. The Guardian. 25 June. Retrieved from:

West, D., & Lockley, A. (2016). Implementing Digital Badges in Australia: The importance of institutional context. In D. Ifenthaler, N. Bellin-Mularski, & D-K. Mah, (Eds), Foundation of Digital Badges and Micro-Credentials: Demonstrating and recognizing knowledge and competencies (pp.467–482). Switzerland: Springer. Retrieved from:

World Economic Forum. (2018). The future of jobs report 2018. Retrieved from:

How to Cite
Selvaratnam, R. M., & Sankey, M. (2021). An integrative literature review of the implementation of micro-credentials in higher education: Implications for practice in Australasia. Journal of Teaching and Learning for Graduate Employability, 12(1), 1-17.