What Modular, Stackable Learning Means And Why It Will Transform Learning In The Workplace

I recently made my predictions for how learning and work will change in 2020. I am confident that these trends will happen because innovators in the education technology and online learning space have spent the last decade paving the way for ambitious workers, parents, students, and companies to accomplish their goals and reach their full potential. For our part, edX, in partnership with our partner institutions, has built the technology, platform, products, and partnerships necessary to get you there, and is changing how learning, especially for working adults, is both consumed and delivered.

One example is by unbundling the traditional learning “packages” — Associate’s, Bachelor’s, and Master’s degrees — into more manageable learning chunks that are also tied to real career and life outcomes. This is what we call modular learning, and it’s the foundation of all the programs available on edX. Modular learning enables working professionals to learn new skills in shorter amounts of time, even while they work, and those seeking a degree are able to do so in a much more attainable way. They also earn credentials for the smaller modules of learning, thereby garnering value and positive feedback early in the process of advancing towards full degrees. This early positive feedback also increases motivation for learners to persist towards the full degree, if that is their goal.

We’ve also made it possible to take those modular learning chunks and use them to create a traditional learning package, like a master’s degree. This is what we call stackable learning, when you take certificates and credentials that you earn in edX programs and “stack” them together to form a larger credential or degree.

The credential programs offered by edX and our partner institutions make modular and stackable learning possible. MicroMasters® programs were our first innovative credential and an amazing example of reimagining how graduate-level education is delivered. These programs showcase deep learning and in-demand skills to employers, or get you started on a path toward completing a full Master’s degree. MIT was our pioneering partner in developing these programs, which launched in 2016, and we now offer over 50 programs! MIT offers three MicroMasters programs on edX in Supply Chain ManagementStatistics and Data Science, and Principles of Manufacturing. Just last week they launched a new program, the first from the Sloan School of Management, in Finance. MIT’s Supply Chain Management MicroMasters program is also part of the first truly stackable degree program on edX. This unique credit pathway between MIT and ASU takes the MicroMasters program from MIT, and stacks it up to a full Master’s degree on edX from ASU.

On January 8th we announced our latest innovation in this space — MicroBachelors™ programs,  the first-ever credit-backed, stackable online credential. These programs deliver immediately transferable skills to meet the real-world needs of employers, while providing a pathway to a full Bachelor’s degree. We worked with our corporate partners to develop the content to ensure it was relevant to the workplace, and the credit-backed nature of the credential indicates its rigor and value. We envision having enough MicroBachelors programs and credit pathways to stack into full degree options with our university partners in the future.

I am confident that modular, stackable learning will be the key to reimagining learning, especially through opening up new ways to learn in the workplace, in 2020 and beyond. How will you transform your life or improve your workers’ employability with learning?