Designing a System to Support Continuous Learning - Digital Promise

Designing a System to Support Continuous Learning

March 16, 2015 | By and

This post is part of a series on the big ideas and ongoing conversations from the 2015 #MC4PD Summit. In the previous post, we discussed building authentic cultures of professional learning. Today, we explore one of the design principles at the heart of micro-credentials – embracing learning as continuous process.

You can find an overview of Summit themes, images, and questions here.


The learning journey unfolds across a lifetime, career, or set of careers. It can take unexpected, non-linear routes and unfold at a different pace for each learner. With today’s technology, learners can cover more ground faster or travel in new ways. Micro-credentials – which recognize educators for their learning throughout their careers – aim to support this freedom.

To make good on the full promise of micro-credentials, we must design this system to support learning as it actually occurs – continuously.

Over the the course of a career, every day presents new puzzles, ever-changing conditions, and fresh opportunities. Completing a training program or receiving a degree is not a destination but one milestone in a learner’s journey. This is particularly true for educators who face new challenges every day or with every new cohort of students.


Lisa Dieker, Pegasus Professor and Lockheed Martin Eminent Scholar at the University of Central Florida and leader of the TeachLivE project (an early micro-credential partner), emphasized the importance of continuous learning in an interview at the #MC4PD Summit, saying:


I think that what micro-credentialing would allow teachers to do is really think deeply, and have a personalized experience and say, “Wow, I’m missing this particular skill and here’s a way to think about it! Can I learn from someone else?”Lisa Dieker
Pegasus Professor and Lockheed Martin Eminent Scholar
University of Central Florida

For example, imagine Mr. Smith, a teacher with 10 years of experience who has a student with a learning difference that requires a new approach. Though he has extensive classroom experience, he will have to learn a new set of skills to best support this student.

This is where continuous learning can really shine. Mr. Smith may have a range of resources at his disposal – a local professional learning community, a mentor with special education expertise, or an online resource — to gain these new skills. Through practice and reflection, he will be able to use new competencies in his class.

By focusing on evidence of learning, rather than the place where that learning occurs, micro-credentials acknowledge that Mr. Smith will learn new skills in a variety of formal and informal contexts over the course of his career.

Additionally, micro-credentials create a platform for Mr. Smith to share his new skills through portable digital badges. By sharing this badge with his peers, leadership, and others, Mr. Smith will become a potential resource for other educators confronting similar challenges. And so goes on the journey of continuous learning.

As lifelong learners and collaborators building the micro-credential ecosystem, we hope to support educators and their ongoing professional learning journey. Join us as we learn from one another and new sources continuously.

How do we design for continuous learning? We welcome you to share your own big ideas for micro-credentials using the hashtag #MC4PD on social media, the comments section of this blog, or by writing us here.

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