Certification of Digital Skills at the University of Lincoln

Dr. Derek Foster –  Principal Lecturer – School of Computer Science – Staff Profile

Dr. Michael Shaw–  Digital Education Developer – Digital Education & Student Life – Staff Profile

In June, at the British Library, Derek Foster (Principle Lecturer) presented the outstanding work that the Computer Science team have been doing using Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) exams aligned to the curriculum to certify students’ digital skills. 

At CertMatters Live 2019, sponsored by Microsoft as part of London Tech Week, Derek’s presentation; ‘Shaping future minds with Computer Science’ outlined how over the last 18 months, students have sat over 600 MTA exams with a pass rate of 74% on topics such as Database Fundamentals, Software Development, Network fundamentals and more.   

Concepts from Industry 4.0 such as big data analytics, cyber security and AI have all influenced the curriculum to give an industry-informed, cloud-first focus to the Computer Science degree programme.  By constructively aligning the taught curriculum with the MTA structure, students are fully supported to develop their skills, and have the opportunity to certify and validate those skills through accredited certification.  Between staff expertise, an impressive suite of computer resources and accompanying Lynda.com playlists; students are offered a range of learning opportunities to enhance their employability and gain added value to their course. 

Student feedback on the MTA certification has been extremely positive, helping them gain confidence in their skills, and in some cases helping them secure employment in the tech industry.  Students take great pride in sharing their digital badges on social media, particularly LinkedIn, where they attract recognition from employers and open networking opportunities. 

 Centre of Excellence 

In addition to presenting at the annual conference, Derek also accepted the award of Centre of Excellence for the University of Lincoln.  The Centre of Excellence is awarded annually to a select number of the highest achieving testing centres and is recognition of the outstanding efforts and success in promoting and delivering certification programmes.  This award recognises the commitment, hard work and time that Derek and the team have given to advancing student success and their employability prospects through Microsoft certification. 

Official Photograph of the winners taken at the ceremony

 The future of certification at Lincoln 

Exciting plans are underway to further develop the use of accredited Microsoft certification at Lincoln, in order to enhance the employability of our Graduates.  While Derek is aiming to increase his programme to over 1000 exams per year, he is also supporting the Digital Education Team, in partnership with Careers, to offer students the opportunity to become Microsoft Office Specialists.  This new project aligns to a new digital skills strand of the Lincoln Award and addresses the need for Microsoft Office skills for graduate employment (IDC, 2016). The new opportunity will allow Lincoln Award students to study towards and sit an exam in either PowerPoint, Word, or Excel to validate their Microsoft Office skills, gaining them the title of Microsoft Office Specialist.  With a pass mark of 80% this is no small feat and will be a true test of students’ digital capabilities.  The new programme will be launched as a pilot project in September 2019, for more information please contact Michael Shaw. 

See also: Derek Foster Online Case Study video: https://lalt.lincoln.ac.uk/online-case-studies/