What is the University Learning Store?
The University Learning Store is an online marketplace of learning apps and badge assessments that allow learners to earn credentials for a variety of professional skills. These offerings are ideal for anyone from an entry-level employee looking to fill a gap in their resume to a seasoned executive who needs to learn a new skill to stay current. Based on existing knowledge or experience, students have the option to complete a competency-based learning app, an authentic badge assessment, or both — providing proof of their skill to employers.
The University Learning Store represents an important evolution in higher education. Designed for working adults who seek to increase their employability and advance their careers, the online University Learning Store offers a faster, more convenient, and affordable way to learn new skills and earn meaningful credentials from some of the nation’s top universities.
Whether you wish to gain new skills or simply get credentialed for skills you already have, online courses and credentials from the University Learning Store can give you a competitive advantage at every stage of your career, from entry-level employee to experienced professional.
For more about the University Learning Store and why there is a need for this new kind of credential, please see the About page.
Who are the universities that partnered to create the University Learning Store?
The partnering institutions that comprise the University Learning Store are leading global universities that excel in education and research. Their faculties’ knowledge, skills, and teaching acumen are unmatched—no other provider of skills-focused credentials can compare. The partner universities are:
- Georgia Institute of Technology
- University of California Davis, Extension
- University of California Irvine, Extension
- University of Washington Continuum College
- University of Wisconsin Extension
What needs or problems does the University Learning Store solve?
The University Learning Store addresses several challenges facing the workforce today:
- The rapid pace of technology now means that working adults must update and upgrade their skills continually throughout their careers.
- Employers are finding it increasingly difficult to attract job applicants who have the technical and “soft” skills they need.
- Traditional credentials such as degrees and certificates can be costly and time consuming, taking months and years to complete.
- Standard assessments are poor measurements of what a person knows and is able to do. Students’ understanding is not verified because their ability to apply knowledge in practice is never tested.
- Today’s transcripts are not adequate indicators of the credential holder’s skills and abilities.
The University Learning Store addresses these challenges by offering online, skills-focused courses and credentials that can be completed quickly and affordably; that assess understanding through rigorous, hands-on demonstrations; that tell employers clearly what job seekers know and can do; and that carry the name recognition and reputation of top universities.
How is the University Learning Store different from other online, skills-based course providers?
The University Learning Store is unique in several ways:
- It is a partnership of respected, nonprofit universities. The University Learning Store is the first skills-focused training platform offered by top universities. The pedigrees and reputations of these institutions give University Learning Store credentials instant credibility with employers.
- The competency-based education format allows you to tailor your learning experience based on your individual needs. If you are already proficient in a competency (skills) area, you can skip the course content and go directly to the assessments. As soon as you pass the assessments, you can being applying your new credential or start a new larning app or badge assessment.
- Authentic assessments are more than simple true/false and multiple-choice tests. These hands-on demonstrations are true tests of your competency. Upon passing an assessment, you and your potential employers can be confident in your ability to perform on the job.
- Verified credentials provide genuine proof of your proficiency in specific skill areas. Clearly worded records tell employers precisely what you have achieved and how you were assessed. All University Learning Store credentials bear the name of the granting institution.
Who can benefit from the University Learning Store?
Individuals at any stage of their career or academic path can benefit from the University Learning Store:
- The entry-level employee who would like to build her skills in business writing
- The experienced professional who wants to learn new skills in leadership or project management
- The aspiring promotion-seeker who wants a credential to certify skills he already has or fill a gap on his resume that a job description calls for
Wherever you are in your career, a University Learning Store credential gives you a trusted way to learn and document your skills so employers will understand exactly what you know and can do.
How can employers benefit from the University Learning Store?
The University Learning Store provides employers with a description of the competencies their current or prospective employees have by earning each badge. In addition, by offering an expanding catalog of practical and professional skills, the University Learning Store gives employers an easy and inexpensive way to keep employees up to date and performing at their best. Sign up individual employees or whole teams to promote teamwork and efficiency throughout the workplace. For more information, contact ULS@uwex.edu.
Are all University Learning Store credentials earned online?
Yes, all courses, learning materials, and assessments are offered completely online. All content is currently hosted on the Canvas Network, an open platform for online courses, and will be through early 2017. A simple Web interface makes it easy for you to access courses, take assessments, and get support when you need it. Look for an update on this site in early 2017 to learn about the future of the University Learning Store, and how we’re moving to a new online. platform to provide a better experience.
What kinds of skills can I learn at the University Learning Store?
The University Learning Store specializes in the skill areas that employers say their employees and job applicants are missing—skills today’s professional workplaces demand.
University Learning Store courses and assessments are organized into three categories:
- Power skills such as communication, teamwork and collaboration, critical thinking, and problem solving.
- Technical skills such as those required in business, information technology, agriculture, health care, and sustainability.
- Career-advancement skills such as leadership, public speaking, management, and negotiation.
See the Course Catalog for titles and descriptions of current offerings. Many more courses and credentials are in development and will be available soon.
What kinds of credentials can I earn from the University Learning Store?
The University Learning Store offers two kinds of credentials: verified competency (a micro-credential earned for completing a single badge assessment) and skills certifications (awarded for completing an entire series of related badge assessments).
All credentials can be accessed digitally and bear the name of the granting institution. Credentials are accompanied by clearly worded records that tell employers exactly what you have achieved and how you were assessed. University Learning Store credentials can be shared with both current and prospective employers electronically through the learner’s digital portfolio.
How are University Learning Store learning apps and badge assessments developed?
University Learning Store apps draw upon the University of Wisconsin System’s experience with competency-based education to bring you outcome-based skills training backed by authentic badge assessments.
All learning apps are developed by subject matter experts affiliated with partnering universities and verified by employers to ensure that you learn the competencies (skills and knowledge) required in today’s workplaces. Hands-on, skills-based assessments prove your ability to apply your knowledge in practice, giving employers confidence in what you have learned and what you can accomplish.
What role do employers play in developing coursework and assessments?
Employers and other industry experts review and verify University Learning Store course content to make sure it is representative of the skills and knowledge they require.
What is an “authentic” badge assessment?
Authentic badge assessments are tests that resemble real-life situations in workplace settings. For example, an authentic badge assessment of a student’s ability to develop a business plan would be for that student to write a real business plan for an actual business. University Learning Store assessments are hands-on, skills-based demonstrations of the competencies students already know or acquire from learning apps.
What is competency-based education?
Competency-based education is an approach to teaching and learning that measures student progress based on the learner’s mastery of competencies—the skills, abilities, and knowledge required in an area of study. University Learning Store courses and credentials are based on the competency-based model of education. Courses include authentic assessments that allow learners to advance as soon as they have demonstrated the ability to apply their knowledge in practice.
Do I need to complete assignments to receive a credential?
No. There are no required learning activities, and there is no busy work in a University Learning Store learning app. If you already have the skills you need to demonstrate your proficiency in a skill area, you can skip the learning app content and move directly to the badge assessments. University Learning Store learning app content is simply there to teach you the skills you need to pass the badge assessment.
Can University Learning Store badges be recognized for college credit?
Not at this time. We are currently exploring options through which we can offer specific sets of University Learning Store courses for credit.
How can I help improve the University Learning Store during open beta?
As we continue developing learning apps and building the University Learning Store, we’re eager for your feedback. For a limited time, we invite you to complete select learning apps for free — all you have to do is let us know what you think when you finish. What new courses or features would you like to see? Try us and let us know.
How do I start?
Getting started is fast and easy. There is no application to complete and no need to send transcripts. For details on how to sign up, see the How It Works page.
When can I start?
The “on-demand” nature of University Learning Store learning apps and badge assessments means you can enroll anytime, any day of the week, and start your University Learning Store experience immediately.
How long does it take to complete a learning app?
In keeping with a philosophy of “just-in-time” learning, we aim to keep most learning apps to one or two weeks in length. Some learning apps may be as short as four hours; others may take 10 to 15 hours to complete. Each learning app description includes a completion-time estimate to help you plan. If you come to a learning app with significant experience in a skill area, you may find that you are able to move quickly through the learning resources and move on to your next learning app or badge assessment sooner.
How long do I have to complete a learning app?
If you start a learning app or badge assessment after March 1, 2017, you can take as long as you need to complete it. If you started your course on Canvas Network prior to March 1, 2017, you will have until April 30, 2017 to complete it. Questions? Contact ULS@uwex.edu.
Can I access my University Learning Store from a mobile device?
Yes, you can access all University Learning Store content on your mobile device through any mobile browser.
Do learning apps have prerequisites?
Since you can register for any University Learning Store content at will, there are technically no prerequisites. However, you will notice that some learning app descriptions may suggest a prerequisite. If you see a prerequisite listed, we strongly encourage you to complete learning apps in the recommended sequence. In addition, some learning apps or badge assessments may be difficult to complete without prior knowledge. For example, a learning app on creating effective business letters and reports may require you to be proficient in English.
What happens if I do not pass the assessments for a course on my first try?
University Learning Store learning apps include practice assessments and graded assessments. Practice assessments are auto-graded, and you can take them as many times as you need to in order to pass the them. Graded assessments are authentic badge assessments, which generally take the form of an assessor-graded project. For authentic assessments, you will have one attempt to pass. The mastery-level requirement for passing is 80 percent.
Should you fail to pass an authentic badge assessment, you are free to purchase the assessment and try again. Standard fees apply.
What if I do not agree with my badge assessment grade?
A student who wishes to appeal a final grade must submit a written grade appeal to ULS@uwex.edu, addressed to the dean. All appeals must detail the basis for the appeal and include any documentation that supports the student’s case. Appeals must be received within 30 days of the date the grade was issued. The dean will investigate the facts of the case and reply with a written decision within seven days of receiving the appeal.
How will I receive my credentials?
Upon earning each micro-credential and certification, you will receive access to a digital badge or certification. Digital badges are images linked to criteria information meant for display on your LinkedIn page, your own website, and anyplace else they may benefit you.
All credentials bear the name of the granting institution and are accompanied by clearly worded records that tell employers exactly what you have achieved and how you were assessed.
How much do University Learning Store credentials cost?
The University Learning Store offers content in two options: learning apps, which include the learning resources students need to master the competency; and badge assessments, which earn students their digital badge upon receiving a passing grade. Each option will be available for $25, paid separately, upon enrollment.
What payment methods do you accept?
Payments through the Fidelis Network (the online platform that hosts University Learning Store courses) are made through PayPal, all major credit cards, and debit cards. Your learning app and/or badge assessment purchase will be safe and secure.
Is financial aid available?
Financial aid is not available for University Learning Store learning apps or badge assessments at this time. However, a key goal of the University Learning Store is to offer low-cost learning apps and credentials that are affordable for most students without the need for financial aid. With learning app and badge assessment prices at $25, acquiring new skills and credentials at the University Learning Store costs far less than traditional degree or certificate programs.
What are the technology requirements for using the University Learning Store?
University Learning Store learning apps and badge assessments are hosted by Fidelis and accessible on most mobile devices through your mobile browser. You can use our Technical Support page to check whether or not your setup meets the technical requirements for accessing all features in University Learning Store learning resources.
Who do I contact if I encounter technical problems?
If you need technical support while taking a learning app or badge assessment, Fidelis has a help desk available for you within your learning app. Simply click the “Help” link at the top of your Fidelis learning app or badge assessment page. If you have other questions about the University Learning Store, please contact us at ULS@uwex.edu.
What is the University Learning Store cancellation and refund policy?
There are no tuition refunds for University Learning Store learning apps or badge assessments. In extenuating circumstances, students may request a Compassionate Refund. The Compassionate Refund policy applies only to enrolled students who are unable to continue in their learning app or badge assessment due to compelling circumstances beyond their control.
Compassionate refunds and associated withdrawals are granted upon approval and may be warranted in two sets of circumstances:
- A life-threatening or disabling illness/accident for an enrolled student.
- Death of an immediate member of the family or household of an enrolled student. The definition of family or household includes spouses, children, partners/significant others, parents, step-parents, and in-laws.
Students seeking a compassionate refund must provide written verification for consideration.
If you have questions or wish to request a refund, please send an email to ULS@uwex.edu. Please include the email address with which you registered for the learning app or badge assessment. For your security, we ask that you do not include credit card information.