University of Maine System (UMS) Micro-Credentials Glossary and Explanation of UMS Terms

The Micro-Credential Pathway Framework:

The framework was designed to decrease confusion surrounding the number of badges and micro-credentials in existence as well as their value micro-credentials by aligning micro-credentials across the state and offering a branded look for ease of recognition, validation, and trust-building for multiple stakeholders.

UMS Micro-Credential Pathway Framework:

The UMS Micro-Credential Pathway Framework is comprised of a set of guidelines, processes, and quality standards for the development and implementation of approved UMS micro-credentials. The framework consists of three levels of badges and a stacked macro-badge designed to guide a learner within a specified pathway.

The USM Micro-Credential Pathway Framework consists of the following structure:

  • Level 1 Badge: Foundational or introductory work
  • Level 2 Badge: Rigorous training
  • Level 3 Badge: Application in a real-world setting, with performance feedback
  • Stacked Macro-Badge: Pathway culminating badge, indicating that the micro-credential was earned

Micro-badges may be embedded within the levels and can also standalone, offering further value. Please refer to the guidelines, processes, and quality standards documents for detailed information.

UMS Micro-Credential Pathway

An UMS Micro-Credential Pathway uses an aligned system of leveled open badges to guide a learner on a path toward the development or strengthening of valued skills and competencies. The goal is to aid learners in reaching learning objectives, career goals and/or degree attainment. An UMS Micro-Credential Pathway meets the guidelines and quality standards specified in the Micro-Credential Pathway Framework. Successfully completing the pathway earns a learner a micro-credential, represented by a macro-badge.

Each pathway is designed by subject matter experts with input from others such as employers, industry leaders, and/or instructional designers.

Badge terms:

Digital badge:

A digital badge is a recognition offered in a digital form designed to be displayed as a marker of accomplishment, activity, achievement, skill, interest, association or identity (Credential Engine Credential Transparency Description Language (CTDL) (External Site)).

Open badge:

Open badges are information-rich visual records of verifiable achievements earned by recipients (IMS Global (External Site)). An open badge is a visual symbol containing verifiable claims in accordance with the open badges specification and delivered digitally (Credential Engine Credential Transparency Description Language (CTDL) (External Site)).

Open badges contain detailed metadata about achievements such as who earned it, who issued it and the criteria required. Evidence of competency and achievement can be embedded in a badge and the badges can be digitally shared (IMS Global (External Site)).

The open badges standard:

  • Puts the learner in control of their credentials
  • Supports the ability to claim and display a badge on any platform
  • Open badges are verifiable and portable rather than tied to one specific system (e.g., badging platform, learning management system, social media site).

UMS badges are open badge compliant.

UMS macro-badge: culminating, stacked badge in a pathway:

The macro-badge is the culminating, stacked badge representing the earning of a micro-credential. The macro-badge indicates that the criteria within the three levels of badges were successfully completed and the skills and competencies were verified at the standards-based competency level indicated by authorized personnel.

UMS micro-badge: granular badges:

The term “micro-badge” is used in Maine to refer to a granular representation of skills, knowledge, and/or abilities. Micro-badges can “stand alone” or be stacked into micro-credential pathways. Stacked micro-badges add significant value to a micro-credential. Micro-badges can be developed both internally or externally to recognize the skills and competencies that were developed or strengthened. Micro-badges can also represent certifications and industry-recognized credentials or similar types of credentials. Examples of external micro-badges include the eight Education Design Lab 21st Century skill badges, IC3, Google and CompTIA badges and IBM badges.


A micro-credential is a credential that addresses a subset of field-specific knowledge, skills or competencies; often developmental with relationships to other micro-credentials and field credentials (Credential Engine Credential Transparency Description Language (CTDL) (External Site)).

The University of Maine System (UMS) defines a micro-credential as a verified stacked, digital credential earned when a learner successfully completes criteria and demonstrates competency, through evidence and application of targeted knowledge, skills and abilities. UMS micro-credentials competency-based and adhere to quality assurance standards.

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