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Micro-credentials discovery platform for the Irish Universities Association

The Irish Universities Association (IUA) is the voice of Ireland’s research-intensive, enterprise-engaged public universities. The IUA is leading the sector’s response to the growing need for flexible lifelong learning programmes through MicroCreds, a 5-year project (2020-2025), in partnership with seven IUA universities (University College Dublin, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin City University, Maynooth University, University of Limerick, University College Cork and University of Galway).

MicroCreds is funded under the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science’s Human Capital Initiative Pillar 3 Innovation and Agility, with capital drawn from the National Training Fund.

Following a competitive EU tendering process IUA appointed Curio to design and develop the micro-credential discovery platform (https://www.microcreds.ie). The platform acts as a centralised marketplace to showcase partner university micro-credentials and link to partner websites for onward enrolment journeys.

The platform is built using Course Hub, Curio’s storefront technology for education (formerly known as Palette). Through Course Hub, learners can find, review and apply for micro-credentials across niche subjects and cross-disciplinary catalogues. The platform is a unique development in the Irish higher education landscape bringing together accredited short courses from different universities on to one central platform with course information, enquiries, and enrolment segregated and controlled by each institution.

Our approach

We took a phased approach to platform development, prioritising features and functionality to meet a tight deadline without compromising on quality. The first iteration of the platform went live in March 2023 after a 4-month discovery, design and development process.

In the discovery phase we identified content and feature requirements for two key types of platform user: individual learners and corporate human resources or managers seeking training for their teams.

We carried out in-depth interviews and an open card sort exercise with interviewees representative of both target platform user groups. These insights built on earlier research carried out by the MicroCreds team to flesh out the details of content and functionality requirements including priority information for course information pages and catalogue search filters for their key stakeholders.

In parallel, our team ran a number of workshops with MicroCreds project stakeholders to deepen our understanding of technical requirements, including data and analytics and administrator functionality for IUA and partner university content editors.  

In collaboration with MicroCreds project stakeholders we worked through an iterative design process, gaining sign off for lo-fidelity wireframes before proceeding to hi-fidelity versions, testing with users to refine page layouts and messaging, before final sign-off and development.

Screenshot showing Microcreds.ie course catalogue

Course information is structured to be compliant with the European Learning Model. This provides future opportunities to use EUROPASS features for course discovery, recommendation and credentialling, building on Course Hub’s API-first architecture. 

The result

MicroCreds.ie consists of a course storefront and administration area. Powered by Course Hub, the administration area supports a wide variety of content types out of the box. These include testimonials, videos, course overviews, custom pages, carousels, frequently asked questions, custom HTML, banners, custom fonts and logos. All content types are managed via ‘blocks’ and the user-friendly content editor.

Course Hub provides easy management and promotion of catalogues and courses, enabling a smooth user experience from discovery, to enrolment, payment and beyond.

Course information is structured to be compliant with the European Learning Model. This provides future opportunities to make use of EUROPASS features for course discovery, recommendation and credentialling, given that micro-credentials use the European open standard, building on Course Hub’s API-first architecture. 

We continue to support the microcreds.ie site and work with the MicroCreds project stakeholders to enhance the platform to ensure it drives awareness of and support learner access to micro-credentials and showcase the offerings of the 7 partner universities. 

Mobile view of Microcreds.ie website

MicroCreds.ie is a key strategic deliverable for the MicroCreds project and Curio was the perfect partner to collaborate with on the execution of this project. Curio’s agile approach to project management enabled us to deliver a fully realised platform at the end of an extremely tight timeline without sacrificing stakeholder engagement and consultation along the journey. One of our key priorities during this project was to put the needs of learners at the heart of MicroCreds.ie. Curio’s immersive way of embedding UX research at each stage of development has resulted in a platform that empowers both learners and enterprise to engage in short, flexible lifelong learning opportunities in Ireland.

David Corscadden, MicroCreds Communications Managers, Irish Universities Association.

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