The value of educational microcredentials in open access online education: a doctoral education case

M. van de Laar*, R.E. West, P. Cosma, D. Katwal, C. Mancigotti

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This research explores the effect of implementing educational open microcredentials on student motivation, engagement, and completion in open access online courses. Our case study reviews the impact on the Community of Learning for African PhD Fellows, a capacity-building project supporting PhD fellows in Sub-Saharan Africa. It builds on an analysis of data from learning analytics, surveys, and semi-structured interviews. Our case study findings indicate that course completion was low, in course offering rounds with and without online certification. Main hurdles to completion are lack of time and lack of direct career benefits or academic value attached to the course completion. We found that, while open access online courses are appreciated by PhD fellows, the implementation of open microcredentials did not provide an incentive towards completion of online courses for this population. Hard and soft copy certificates at this point are more appreciated.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages14
JournalOpen Learning
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 11 May 2022


  • Educational open microcredentials
  • online learning
  • Higher Education
  • open access
  • Sub-Saharan Africa
  • doctoral education

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