Districts across the nation are exploring a new approach to professional learning to meet the evolving needs of today’s diverse classrooms and the educators who lead them. District leaders are looking to provide educators with personalized support that will identify and develop skills and practices to support powerful student learning – and micro-credentials are one such tool to meet this need. By articulating a specific research-backed skill and assessing evidence of that skill in practice, micro-credentials can transform a district’s culture of professional learning.

As both interest in and adoption of micro-credentials continues to grow, building incentive structures and value propositions for micro-credentials proves critical.

Earlier this year at The Future of Educator Micro-credentials Summit in Redwood City, California, researchers, educators, and thought leaders from the professional development field gathered to tackle this challenge. Their guiding question was: “How can we structure the economics of micro-credentials to provide value beyond professional development to educators?”

To answer this question, participants first identified the many players and institutions, from district leaders to teacher unions, that provide formal value for the professional development educators experience. Participants also considered the different types of value assigned to these experiences, from continuing education credit to financial award.

Participants then identified the various factors that play a role in determining the intrinsic and extrinsic value of professional learning experiences for educators. As the above graphic shows, some of these factors include complexity of the skill, association with organizations and providers, and alignment to district priorities. Participants then identified the challenges, including financial benefit and messaging, to ensuring micro-credentials provide value.

To start understanding the various types of value micro-credentials supply, participants proposed publishing a graphical white paper outlining the distinct value propositions for each stakeholder in the ecosystem and the associated costs, from dollars to time. Additionally, they recommended producing a case study of lessons learned from districts and states currently implementing micro-credentials showing how they leveraged micro-credentials to incentivize educator professional learning.

For example, Kettle Moraine School District in Wisconsin has been implementing micro-credentials since spring 2014 and they use monetary incentives for their educators. The graphic below explores Kettle Moraine’s micro-credential journey, including the context that set the stage for micro-credential implementation, insights and lessons learned so far, and the value they provide to stakeholders across their district.

To learn more about Kettle Moraine’s micro-credential program, check out this blog post.

Ensuring educators and all other stakeholders have meaningful incentives in the micro-credential ecosystem will be integral to its long-term success. Early adopters like Kettle Moraine provide compelling case studies for the benefits of implementing thoughtful incentives for micro-credentials. We look forward to continuing to learn from them and the many other states and districts engaging with micro-credentials for professional learning.

Learn more about other major takeaways from the Summit here, and explore our micro-credential platform here.


About Hashim Pipkin

Hashim Pipkin is the Communications and Content Manager, Micro-credentials.

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