The Complex Universe of Alternative Postsecondary Credentials and Pathways

Jessie Brown, Martin Kurzweil, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Jul 22, 2017
Commentary by Stephen Downes

This is a survey document (56 page PDF) tracking research and commentary on the rise of alternative credentials (such as microcredentials, badges and certificates) and alternative learning pathways (such as word-based learning, MOOCs and short courses. The report has very little to say about effectiveness (see the executive summary) though it does make comments in passing as it cites other articles (eg. by the Chronicle). It looks into the historical antedecents and is a detailed examination of the rise of these alternatives, including how they are beginning to be incorporated into traditionaal programs. At the end, it remarks on the dearth of quality assessment for these alternatives: "evidence of the efficacy and value of these alternatives—for students and taxpayers—is still thin. Robust data on many programs’ features, cost, enrollment, and outcomes are simply not available."

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