Designing agile pathways for climate adaptation skill development

Leveraging open competency frameworks, micro-credentials, and open educational resources




climate, adaptation, competency, micro-credentials, OER, skills, pathways


Capacity building for advancing climate-change leadership has become a critical workforce development requirement for both professionals and front-line workers. As the World Economic Forum Jobs 2020 report noted, there is an increasing need to provide short-timeframe opportunities for reskilling and upskilling that will keep step with the increasing issues of the climate crisis. Micro-credentials have been proposed as a strategy to enable the ongoing development of knowledge and skills to address this workforce development requirement, which we examine in the context of a university initiative that has prototyped skill pathways to address key climate adaptation themes.

We report and discuss the strategic use of the Climate Adaptation Competency Framework (2020)–a Creative Commons-licensed (CC) open competency framework–along with the use of open educational resources to create agile pathways to skill development for climate adaptation and action. The pathways we have designed and are testing combine self-directed learning resources, individual and group activities, and authentic assessment practices to validate skill development. Micro-credentials are awarded from a university continuing and professional studies division to learners from multiple practice domains for demonstrations of competence.

Author Biographies

David Porter, Commonwealth of Learning

A long-time advocate for the benefits of adapting new technology to deliver educational opportunities, David’s extensive leadership and experience in the education and training fields has included working with both public and private sector organizations.


* Senior Adviser - Higher Education, Commonwealth of Learning
* Most recently, Dean of Innovative Learning at Humber College
* Formerly, CEO of in Toronto, Canada.
* Formerly, Associate Vice-President - Education Support and Innovation,
* Formerly Executive Director of

Robin Cox, Royal Roads University

Dr. Robin Cox is the program head for the graduate programs in Climate Action Leadership (Graduate Diploma; Master of Arts) and a professor in the Disaster and Emergency Management graduate programs of the School of Humanitarian Studies. Cox is also the director of the Resilience by Design (RbD) Research Innovation lab, a transdisciplinary research and educational outreach center that focus on building multigenerational climate action leadership and competencies. The goal of this center is to inform, inspire, and support the well-being of people and the planet in a changing climate, through research, education, and policy advising.

Vivian Forssman, Royal Roads University

Vivian is a consultant focused on transforming access to education through technology, openness, and fresh approaches to curriculum design. She has held leadership roles at several post-secondary institutions, working at the intersection of curriculum and technology. She was Director of Centre for Teaching and Educational Technologies at Royal Roads University; Director, Learning and Technology Services at UBC Sauder School of Business; and Director, Centre for Instructional Technology and Development at SAIT Polytechnic Calgary. Vivian has designed and taught post-secondary courses in both credit and non-credit programs, including project management, knowledge management, experiential learning, and e-business. She holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Cape Town.


Academy for Sustainable Innovation. (2022). Transition leadership programs.

Adaptation Learning Network. (2021). ALN courses. Royal Roads University.

Antonopoulou, K., Begkos, C., & Zhu, Z. (2023). Staying afloat amidst extreme uncertainty: A case study of digital transformation in Higher Education. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 192. DOI:

Australian Government. (November, 2021). National micro-credentials framework. Department of Education, Skills and Employment.

Brown, M., Nic, M., Mhichíl, G., Beirne, E., Conchúr, & Lochlainn, M. (2021). State-of-the-art literature review on micro-credentials: a report for the European Commission [final draft]. 1-160.

Bygstad, B., Øvrelid, E., Ludvigsen, S., & Dæhlen, M. (2022). From dual digitalization to digital learning space: Exploring the digital transformation of higher education. Computers & Education, 182. DOI:

Chaktsiris, M., McCallum, K. E., & Luke, R. (2021). Is the future micro: unbundling learning for flexibility and access. Future Skills Centre.

Chartrand, J., Freeman, S., Gallersdörfer, U., Lisle, M., Mühle, A., van Engelenburg, S. (2020). Building the digital credential infrastructure for the future.

Colleges and Institutes Canada. (2022). National framework for micro-credentials.

Commonwealth of Learning. (2021). Making digital assessment count: designing for engagement, integrity and authenticity. Knowledge Series.

Contact North (2021). 10 key actions to ensure micro-credentials meet the needs of learners and employers.

Cox, R., Forssman, V., Withers, D. (2022). Adaptation Learning Network 2019-2020 final report: inspiring climate action.

Cox, R., Niederer, S., Forssman, V., Sikorski, L. (2021). Climate adaptation competency framework.

Creative Commons. (2023). About CC licenses.

Credential Engine. (2023). Making credentials transparent.

Davidson, M. (2020). The future of Ontario’s workers: how micro-credentials can be a vital part of the post-pandemic recovery. microcredentials-can-be-vital-part-post-pandemic-recovery

Digital Credentials Consortium. (2023). Digital credentials consortium. MIT.

eCampusOntario. (2021). Micro-credential principles and framework.

eCampusOntario. (2022). Micro-credential toolkit.

Environment and Climate Change Canada (2022). Canada’s national adaptation strategy: building resilient communities and a strong economy.

European MOOC Consortium (2019). EMC common micro-credential framework.

Fernández, A., Gómez, B., Binjaku, K., & Meçe, E. K. (2023). Digital transformation initiatives in higher education institutions: A multivocal literature review. Education and Information Technologies, 28(10), 12351-12382. DOI:

Forth, S. (2020). Designing the open competency model architecture.

Future Skills Centre (2022). Upskilling for Canada’s climate transition.

Government of British Columbia (2021). Micro-credential framework for BC’s public post-secondary education system. Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training.

Government of British Columbia. (2022). Micro-credential initiative: a guide for applicants. Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training.

Government of Saskatchewan. (2021). Saskatchewan’s guide to micro-credentials.

Green, D. & Levy, C. (2020). Open competency toolkit. eCampusOntario. Retrieved from,

McGreal, R., & Olcott, D. (2022). A strategic reset: micro-credentials for higher education leaders. Smart Learning Environments, 9(1). DOI:

Matkin, G. W. (2018). Alternative digital credentials: an imperative for higher education. Research & Occasional Paper Series, 2(8).

New Zealand Qualifications Authority. (2022). Aotearoa New Zealand’s rationale for micro-credentials.

New Zealand Qualifications Authority. (2023) Micro-credentials.

OECD. (2023). Micro-credentials for lifelong learning and employability: Uses and possibilities. OECD Education Policy Perspectives, 66, OECD Publishing. DOI:

Oliver, B. (2019). Making micro-credentials work for learners, employers and providers. 1-48.

Oliver, B. (2022). Towards a common definition of micro-credentials.

Pichette, J., Brumwell, S., Rizk, J., Han, S. (2021). Making sense of micro-credentials. Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario.

Rossiter, D., & Tynan, B. (2019). Designing & implementing micro-credentials: A guide for practitioners 2. 1-12.

Royal Roads University. (2023). Climate adaptation fundamentals micro-credential. Professional and continuing studies.

State University of New York (2022). Our story: Building SUNY's microcredential program and initial lessons learned.

Van Noy, H., McKay, H., Michael, S. (2019). Non-degree credential quality: a conceptual framework to guide measurement. Rutgers Education and Employment Research Center.

World Economic Forum. (2020). The Future of Jobs Report 2020.




How to Cite

Porter, D., Cox, R., & Forssman, V. (2023). Designing agile pathways for climate adaptation skill development : Leveraging open competency frameworks, micro-credentials, and open educational resources . The Open/Technology in Education, Society, and Scholarship Association Journal, 3(2), 1–17.



Practice Articles