This blog post was co-written by Krista Moroder, Professional Development Manager at Digital Promise and ISTE Young Educator Network Leader and Robert Bajor, Micro-credentialing Project Manager at Digital Promise. ISTE is leading the theme Leadership for Change during Connected Educator Month.

Last year, more than 300 major education organizations participated in Connected Educator Month. More than 14 million educators and others reached around the world via Twitter. More than 600 national events and activities were conducted officially on the CEM calendar.

Learning IS happening. It happens every time an educator uses the #ce14 hashtag, joins a book club, or listens to a podcast. And now, participants can earn graduate credit for their participation in these events.

More of these efforts to tie professional learning to credentials mean we’re moving in the right direction. But we’re not moving fast enough. We are now connected to resources, peoples, and tools that allow us to learn anywhere and anytime. This is a vast shift in how we pursue knowledge – yet, little has changed with how we credential those who have acquired this knowledge.

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We constantly talk about the importance of “removing classroom walls” and “24/7 learning.” If we really want to support personalized learning for our students, we need to start by modeling these practices with our teachers. Many school districts still have policies in place that only recognize professional learning when it happens in traditional formats – through structured in-service days and “hours” of continuing education credits. Any teacher or administrator who has actively participated in Connected Educator Month knows that professional learning has a much broader definition!

How do we shift the conversation? How do we move from time-based professional development to a model that more accurately represents a teacher’s specific skills and knowledge? How do we recognize learning when it can happen anywhere?

Here’s how our team at Digital Promise has been looking at tackling this challenge.

Micro-credentials recognize “micro skills” and can be earned through demonstration of a particular skill or practice.

Think about how many skills a teacher uses during a single day of instruction. A teacher might pause intermittently during a Socratic seminar to give students time to think critically. Or a teacher might employ more than one strategy to check for student understanding. How were these “micro skills” gained? Chances are, the teacher learned that practice through a variety of different ways – in a book, a blog post, a great conversation, a Twitter chat, an observation, or a video.

Does it matter?

We’ve known for a long time that seat time does not equal competence. And like students, teachers learn through a variety of ways. Because micro-credentials rely on the demonstration of a skill or practice, the time/pace/location an educator learned those skills becomes less relevant. This frees teachers from the “sit and get” methodology of professional development and encourages them to learn on their own terms in the manner that suits them best.

For educators, micro-credentials could be a way to demonstrate skills to potential employers, build identity and reputation within learning communities, and create pathways for continued learning and leadership roles. However, in order for a school, district, peer network, or other evaluator to feel confident in recognizing a credential, it must have instructional relevance, rigor, and pedagogical integrity.

At Digital Promise, we’ve been working with researchers and experts to ensure that our micro-credentials are based on current research, and are both relevant and rigorous.

Where can I learn more about Digital Promise micro-credentials?

Digital Promise is building a coalition of educators and partners to develop a micro-credentialing system that provides teachers with the opportunity to gain recognition for skills they master throughout their careers. If you would to join our coalition of educators and partners, take action by participating in our pilot.

About the authors

Krista Moroder

Krista Moroder is currently the Professional Development Manager at the Congressionally-authorized nonprofit Digital Promise, and supports eight schools across the country on a 1:1 implementation and documentation project. Krista has also worked on a micro-credentialing initiative for teacher professional development, as an education technology consultant and conference speaker, as a district instructional technology coordinator, and as an English and video production teacher. After developing the Ed Tech Challenge, a personalized professional development framework, Krista was selected as the 2013 ISTE Young Educator of the Year. Krista was also recruited to serve as an advisor for multiple organizations, including ISTE, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, and the Google in Education team. Her double life has included designing websites, photography & videography, theater technical work, and archery. Say hi on Twitter! @kristamoroder

 

Robert BajorRobert Bajor is currently serving as a Micro-credentialing Project Manager at Digital Promise. Before joining Digital Promise, Robert worked as a high school biological sciences teacher in Elizabeth, New Jersey. Robert came to teaching from a background in science, working in microbiological research and cancer diagnostics. He graduated from Rutgers University with a degree in biological science.

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