Micro-Credentials Have Big Impact
Thursday, June 23rd, 2022
Northwestern Polytechnic and Western Cree Tribal Council partner to deliver new upskilling opportunity.
Last fall, Northwestern Polytechnic (NWP) was approached by Horse Lake First Nation who were in search of education and training programs for community members that would support the Clear Hills Youth Treatment Centre initiative. The initial goal of the project was to equip staff and community members with additional skills that would benefit local youth along with clients in the Youth Treatment Centre. However, once the potential of the upskilling initiative was realized, the project was expanded to include all members of the Western Cree Tribal Council.
While several opportunities were identified for the future, NWP was able to quickly establish an Early Learning and Child Care micro-credential. This marks the first ever micro-credential course to be delivered by the institution.
“This is an area where we see much value and we look forward to adding more programming in the future,” says Dr. Carly McLeod, Dean School of Business. “In this case, we were fortunate to be able to work closely with the community to align our programming with their identified needs and deliver something quite impactful.”
Micro-credentials are short-term, flexible learning programs designed to help student develop the specialized, job-ready skills they need to quickly re-skill or upskill to pivot in their careers or re-enter the workforce.
NWP’s Early Learning and Child Care and Indigenous Services departments worked together to adapt the CD1050 credit course: Art, Music and Story into a micro-credential with several Indigenous components woven into the course content.
The ELCC micro-credential was delivered by Continuing Education to 20 students from across Western Cree Tribal Council. The course was taught by NWP alumna Laura Tangen, Principal of Horse Lake First Nation School and Director of Awasis Day Care.
“When Chief Ramona Horseman and I first sat down to discuss this venture, we were hoping to inspire others to further their education and qualifications,” said Tangen. “Building a wonderfully sculpted micro-credential has broken down many of the barriers to achieving post-secondary education goals. This course is successful because it removes traditional walls of education and offers a unique experience that can applied directly into programs.”
The course was offered face-to-face over three weekends in January and February. The in-class components were complemented with online readings and engaging activities.
“This initiative was so successful because it allowed students to complete an entire course with minimal interruption to their daily routines and home lives,” adds Tangen. “I know that many of the students are employed full time throughout the week, have young children at home, and/or have to travel a fair distance from their home communities to participate.”
Upon successful course completion, students are eligible to receive their Level 1 Early Childhood Educator certification along with a Northwestern Polytechnic Continuing Education Certificate of Completion. Students can also apply to receive advanced credit toward the full ELCC academic program.
The program has been extremely well-received, and plans have already begun to expand micro-credential course offerings at the polytechnic institution.
“For many years our Nation struggled with this type of programming, but Northwest Polytechnic made adjustments to program delivery to support our learners, which in turn created successful outcomes” Anna Okemow, Director of Education, Whitefish Lake First Nation #459. “Thank you, Northwest Polytechnic, for developing the ELCC Micro-Credential.”
For more information about other micro-credential opportunities or continuing education programming please visit NWP.me/Microcredentials.