Special Report: OpenLearning has released its anticipated micro-credential framework and is working to make it the industry standard for education providers and employers.  

OpenLearning (ASX: OLL) wants to make its new ‘micro-credentials’ the industry standard, after signing a series of agreements with Open Universities Australia (OUA) to launch its new framework OpenCreds.

The agreements outline how the duo will build a micro-credential marketplace via a white-labelled portal to OUA on OpenLearning’s platform to a grant that will support the creation of courses aligned to the OpenCreds framework.

The higher education software as a service (SaaS) company signed three, 3-year agreements with OUA in order to build out the Australian micro-credential market: an MoU, a Platform SaaS and Course Distribution Agreement, and a Services Agreement.

“We’re seeing much higher demand for life-long learning generally, but more people are looking for courses that are shorter, more industry relevant that can lead to particular skills outcomes,” said OpenLearning CEO and founder Adam Brimo.

“If someone is looking to change careers or has been retrenched, rather than going back and studying a one to two year degree, they may look for a one to two month course.

This is what OpenCreds allows but also some recognition for skills they’ve developed from employers.”

OpenLearning will receive a fixed usage-based SaaS fee for each enrolment in a course delivered via OUA’s integrated platform, or a percentage of enrolment fees for courses developed with support from the OMDG.

In addition to OUA, OpenLearning has also signed a 1.5 year platform agreement with DeakinCo, part of Deakin University and a global leader in micro-credentials, focusing on workforce capabilities.

“These initiatives are likely to expand our reach across Australian universities and increase adoption of OpenCreds, which we aim to become the industry standard for micro-credentials in Australia,” Brimo said.


Launch of the OpenCreds framework

OpenLearning finalised the OpenCreds framework after an extensive consultation process involving 350 people across the sector and four virtual roundtables.

The framework is now available for Australian education providers to use exclusively via the OpenLearning platform.

The company is positioning itself in the sweet spot of the changing nature of work: learners are needing to upskill and reskill more frequently, which is driving demand for online education around the world and challenging the traditional business models of education providers.

The company says OpenCreds enables education providers to adapt and capture this opportunity by providing a common structure for the delivery of micro-credentials across higher education, vocational education and industry.

That makes it possible for them to offer short and stackable courses ranging from 2.5 hours to 150 hours of learning that lead to credit in a formal qualification, are recognised by industry and with a high-quality learning experience.

It expects education providers would charge learners fees to enrol in OpenCreds, thereby enabling them to generate new revenue.

The company also believes OpenCreds has the potential to become an industry standard for the delivery of micro-credentials in Australia and views it as a key differentiator, enabling it to further grow the number of education providers that utilise its platform.

A number of the Company’s existing partners have already commenced developing OpenCreds.

“Australian Catholic University (ACU) has a long tradition of creating opportunity through education and fostering a culture of lifelong learning. OpenLearning’s latest innovation, the OpenCreds micro-credential framework, has the potential to dramatically increase access to quality, industry-relevant lifelong learning while providing a pathway to formal qualifications,” said ACU acting Provost and Deputy Vice-Chancellor professor Zlatko Skrbis.


A new grant for micro-credentials

To accelerate the growth of the marketplace, OpenLearning and OUA will jointly fund the set up and learning design costs of up to 30 OpenCreds through the creation of the Open Micro-credential Development Grant (OMDG) that is valued at $750,000, including a $450,000 in-kind contribution from the company for learning design.

The OMDG is administered by OUA within their existing Rapid Development Fund and is now open for applications from all of the universities in Australia, with the first round closing on August 13.

OpenLearning and OUA will jointly promote the grant program to their respective university partners with the aim of growing the number of courses.“Over the past three years our Rapid Development Fund has been incredibly successful and well received by universities in supporting the development of their online offering,” said Open Universities Australia CEO Stuart Elmslie.


Launch of the OpenCreds Investment Fund

OpenLearning is also launching the OpenCreds Investment Fund (OIF) to support education providers to move their training programs online by using OpenLearning’s platform and the OpenCreds framework.

The OIF would fund the setup and learning design costs for 35 OpenCreds, representing an investment of $350,000 half of which would be in-kind.

In exchange for the investment, the company would receive a significant share of the revenue generated from fees paid by students to enrol in the courses and would actively assist the education providers in both selecting in-demand subjects and marketing those subjects to generate revenue for both the provider and OpenLearning.

The OIF would accept applications from private higher education providers, registered training organisations, industry associations and professional bodies. Applications for the fund are now open and the company expects to fully deploy the fund over the next 12 months.

This story was developed in collaboration with OpenLearning, a Stockhead advertiser at the time of publishing.
This story does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.