Glossary of Terms

The following list provides the UNH community with a common taxonomy around micro-credentials.

Note: This list may be expanded or revised over time.

Badge Level

  • Foundational - Examples: Associate, Beginner, Foundations, Fundamentals, Level 1
  • Intermediate - Examples: Professional, Intermediate, Proficient, Level 2
  • Advanced - Examples: Specialist, Master, Mentor, Expert, Level 3
  • Competency - Learnable, measurable and/or observable knowledge and skill?sets gained.

Continuing Education Units (CEUs): Continuing education units, or CEUs, are awarded by many education and training providers to signify successful completion of non-credit programs and courses intended to improve the knowledge and skills of working adults. CEUs are not awarded for academic study and do not represent, or provide, academic credit; and they may be awarded for a variety of experiences in different settings whose only common criterion is that they be measurable, supervised educational or training experiences with defined starting and ending points (

Credit-bearing: Indicates a course carries undergraduate or graduate level academic credit upon successful completion.

Credit-bearing certificate: Earned by completing courses that carry academic credit. Some for-credit certificate programs can be counted towards a formal degree program.

Digital Badge: A UNH digital badge is an electronic representation of a skill, achievement, or experience.

  • It contains detailed information about the skill or experience which enables viewers to ascertain what activities and/or assessments the learner completed.
  • Skills and/or competencies are defined and evaluated by the digital badge issuer.
  • Badges represent successful completion of a variety of learning experiences in credit and non-credit coursework.
  • Sharing badges is learner controlled and open across technology platforms including social media, blogs, online portfolios and others.

Earner (or Learner)

An individual who has met the necessary requirements to earn a badge, micro-credential.

Educational Standard: This is an optional field that links to any relevant third-party external standard.

License: legal permission, typically granted by a government agency, to allow an individual to perform certain regulated tasks or occupations. Licenses are based on pre?determined, standardized criteria, involving educational programs of study, assessments, and/or work experience and are time?limited requiring periodic review and renewal.

Learning Outcome: that which a learner is expected to know, understand, or be able to do after successful completion of a planned process of learning.

Learning Pathway: A learning pathway is defined as the route an individual completes “as they progress through a range of specific courses, academic programs, and learning experiences.” Digital Badges can be used to create such learning pathways, serving as markers or stepping stones that lead the learner forward towards various achievement goals, defining one’s progression and experience.


a set of data that describes and gives information about other data. In many cases, when the word Metadata is used within the context of digital badging/credentialing, it is in reference to the data that combines with the badge image to produce a digital credential. Includes name, description, and links to other important details like the badge's criteria, evidence and issuer information.

Micro-credential: UNH defines a micro-credential as evidence that reflects attainment of specific skills or competencies. Micro-credentials can be issued for formal and informal academic or professional learning experiences.  A digital badge is one example of a micro-credential.

  • UNH Micro-Credentials are:
    • Competency-based
    • Approved through faculty/staff governance
    • Meaningful and of high quality

Modularity: means that the credential includes units that carry independent value, which can be combined in multiple ways with other units and credentials and across multiple industries to create pathways. Modular credentials can be combined to demonstrate attainment of a broader, more complex, and/or more specialized knowledge of skills over time.

Non-credit Certificate: Proof of completion of a specialized non-credit education program focused on developing transferable skills.

Portability: means the credential has value locally, nationally and perhaps internationally in labor markets, education systems, and/or other contexts.  The earner is able to use the credential in a variety of environments, and the context and competencies the credential represents remain intact and are accessible by credential consumers.  A portable credential enables earners to move vertically and horizontally within and across the credentialing ecosystem for attainment of other credentials

Professional Certification: an industry-recognized and regulated attestation of a status or level of achievement, conferred by an external entity (ex. Project Management Professional (PMP)).

Professional Qualification: the formal outcome of an assessment and validation process which is obtained when a competent body determines that an individual has achieved learning outcomes to given standards (e.g. European Qualifications Framework).

Qualification: the formal outcome of an assessment and validation process which is obtained when a competent body determines that an individual has achieved learning outcomes to given standards (e.g. European Qualifications Framework).

Re-skilling: training for employees who have shown they have the aptitude for learning a completely new occupation. For example, an office clerk whose job has become obsolete will need to learn new skills to perform a different in-demand job within the same organization, such as a web developer.

Share, Shareable 

Each awarded micro-credential or digital badge/credential can be shared digitally. For examples, badge earners can share awards from their backpack to social media, an email address, or many other ways. 


Skills are the basic units that define an economy.

  • Skills are demonstrated (and supplied) by learners,

  • assessed and verified by subject matter experts,

  • and needed (consumed) by employers and other recognizers in pursuit of their business goals.

Stackable Credential or Career Pathway: part of a sequence of credentials that can be accumulated over time to build up an individual’s qualifications and help that individual move along a career pathway and further education.

  • Vertical stacking is the most common in which a single topic is explored in advancing detail. For example, Microsoft Excel level 1, level 2, and level 3.
  • Horizontal stacking is the acquirement of knowledge across several topics. For example, marketing, data handling, Microsoft products.
  • Hybrid stacking is a combination of both vertical and horizontal stacking, where learners explore multiple topics in increasing levels of difficulty. For example, marketing level 1 and level 2.

Taxonomy: a system of classification.

  • UNH Badging Taxonomy
      • Participation Badge: Badge earner participates in an event (i.e. professional development, classroom or online learning, etc.) but has not taken an assessment.
      • Contribution/Recognition Badge: Badge earner has made a non-trivial contribution as part of a team or project. Can serve as recognition of accomplishment; i.e. an award.
      • Grade Based Badge: Badge earner has earned recognition for successfully completing a learning event. Examples of formal recognition might include college credit, CEUs or other measures for non-collegiate credit learning.
      • Level/ Program Based Badge: Badge earner has earned formal credit for one or all event(s) in a series of learning gains (i.e. levels of learning). Can serve as badge for encouragement and progress to larger learning goal. Badge should indicate how it fits within a progression or pathway to other badges or as a result of previous accomplishment.
      • Performance Badge: Badge earner has demonstrated skills in a high-stakes environment. Badge earner successfully demonstrates claims to performance. Proctored assessment.
      • Certification/ License Badge: Badge earner has demonstrated competence in a substantial domain of knowledge. Proctored assessment and other documentation satisfying certification/licensure requirements (i.e. work experience, education background, etc.) should be included.

Transparency: easy to understand and compare, clear learning outcomes and/or competencies

Upskilling: focuses on providing training for employees who need to learn new skills to improve their current performance without changing their position or career path. One example would be a grants manager who uses Microsoft Excel to administer grants would need to be trained on robotic process automation as the organization implements this modern technology.