Moving from Challenges to Solutions: The Future of Educator Micro-credentials - Digital Promise

Moving from Challenges to Solutions: The Future of Educator Micro-credentials

January 24, 2017 | By

Digital Promise gathered developers, researchers, educators, and thought leaders from the educator professional development field on January 9-10 in Redwood City, California, for The Future of Educator Micro-credentials Summit. The Summit focused on developing action-oriented solutions to meet the needs of this growing ecosystem. During the event, we launched Educators Rising’s “Aspiring to Teach” micro-credential stack to support pre-service educators as they develop foundational practices and mindsets for effective teaching.

In her opening remarks, Digital Promise CEO Karen Cator described the need to move beyond defining challenges to actively pursuing solutions for the ecosystem. The language of challenges and solutions filled conversation in the Summit’s four challenge-breakout sessions: micro-credential development, value and incentives, research, and educator engagement.

Each session followed the Challenge Based Learning (CBL) framework, which is made up of three phases:

  1. Engage in big topics to move to concrete challenge statements and essential questions
  2. Investigate through research and supporting guiding questions to prepare solutions
  3. Act through the development of evidence-based solutions with plans for implementation and evaluation

Each session used these three phases to develop potential solutions for challenges within the ecosystem.


For example, in the micro-credential development session, participants engaged in the big topic of supporting micro-credentials at scale. Participants investigated two issues in particular: ensuring a sustainable review process that maintains quality and rigor, and designing micro-credentials to positively transform learning. Moving from Investigate to Act, participants identified two solutions: creating micro-credentials to “certify” local assessors and developing a stack of micro-credentials for district leaders seeking to implement culture change around professional learning.

In the research session, participants considered ways research could surface insights into micro-credential quality and teacher behavior throughout the earning process. The guiding question that emerged was, “How do micro-credentials support and change teacher effectiveness?” To begin responding to that question, participants came up with a research agenda that articulates the resources, assumptions, organizational partnerships, and funding considerations necessary to pursue findings.

Participants also considered the financial structures and communication strategies behind micro-credentials in the valuing micro-credentials session. Two guiding considerations framed the session’s Investigate phase: how to structure the economics of micro-credentials and how to streamline micro-credential messaging. Ultimately, participants proposed publishing a graphical white paper outlining the value propositions behind micro-credential implementation and conducting a communications audit across organizations implementing micro-credentials, with the goal of creating a consistent definition.


The educator engagement session explored issues related to the teaching profession, educator buy-in for micro-credentials, and adult learning. Participants distilled the topic into the guiding question, “How can micro-credentials meet the professional learning needs of educators along a continuum?” In response, the Act phase led to the concept of a policy and micro-credential implementation toolkit for district leadership that would help create learning profiles for educators, build teacher prep partnerships, and execute internal and external communication strategies.

The long-term success of this growing micro-credential ecosystem depends on the intentional collaboration of all partners on all fronts, from educator engagement to thoughtful research. To ensure the ecosystem continues to grow and evolve, we must remain solutions-focused and action-oriented. The Summit was an excellent starting point for continuing that work.


To learn more about the Summit, visit here.
To learn more about the Educator Micro-credentials initiative, visit here.

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