Personal productivity is an important skill for professionals in all industries. We in education are no different as we face an increasing set of expectations both in and out of the classroom. The need to do “more with less,” or at least “more with the same,” requires us to optimize our time and produce the best results. This is especially true of finding time and energy for our own professional development.
There is a wide range of methods for teacher professional development to address distinct needs. Some are driven by state requirements to meet regional goals. Many of us benefit from district-led conferences that serve as a foundation for adjustments to collective processes or approaches. Professional learning communities (PLCs) also provide a medium for exchanging ideas on specific issues or problems that occur each day. However, what remains is a list of unmet personal goals that require a more customized opportunity for self-development. Micro-credentials can be a great solution for targeted development that fits into an educator’s schedule.
The CAPS Network consists of like-minded schools that leverage experiential learning, or what we call “profession-based learning” (Pro-BL), to bridge the gap between education and employment for our students. The CAPS model, now supporting over 50 programs in more than 100 school districts across 15 states and two countries, is built on five core values: Pro-BL; professional skills development; self-discovery and exploration; entrepreneurial mindset; and responsiveness.
This emerging pedagogy and a growing awareness of the changing job market place great stress on educators preparing students for the future. The five micro-credentials we developed through our partnership with Digital Promise enables educators to address these challenges while maintaining the integrity of their personal productivity.
Experiential learning is becoming widely recognized as a critical pedagogy to achieve high levels of college and career readiness, and using Pro-BL as a tool to provide these experiences is an expanding practice among educators. Pro-BL experiences require a more complex application of technical and 21st-century skills to create an authentic work product, such as a presentation, product prototype, or market research, that is needed—and will be used—by an industry partner. Below is a breakdown of each of the five new micro-credentials and how they contribute to creating valuable, authentic profession-based learning experiences for students.
Designing an authentic Pro-BL experience requires joint planning and execution between an instructor and the industry partner. Our Designing a Profession-Based Learning Experience micro-credential supports educators in creating a rigorous, full-scale learning experience that builds 21st-century skills in a real world work environment.
In addition to this micro-credential, we created three others that allow educators to dig deep into their specific Pro-BL goals. Our Designing a Profession-Based Learning Experience for Student Self-Discovery micro-credential, for instance, provides educators with a framework for designing a learning experience in which students explore themselves to find their strengths and passions—which, in turn, are explored with potential careers in mind.
Outside of the classroom, there is no better learning opportunity or “résumé-worthy” experience for students than through an internship with a real practitioner in an industry in which they have interest. While commonplace at the college level, project-based internships in a high school environment is a new experience with as much risk as potential reward. Our Designing a Profession-Based Learning Student Internship micro-credential mitigates that risk by showing educators how to design an optimal professional experience outside of the classroom.
Additionally, teachers in career-based education have the dual challenge of maintaining content expertise as well as mastering new teaching pedagogies. In the era of authentic learning, transferring knowledge gained from our own hands-on experience is superior to that learned from the teacher’s edition of a textbook. The Design and Engage in a Profession-Based Learning Instructor Externship micro-credential embeds educator professional development in an experiential learning scenario with an industry partner.
Ultimately, a successfully designed Pro-BL experience requires students to demonstrate a set of skills and produces performance artifacts unlike all other forms of lessons. The Assessing a Profession-Based Learning Experience micro-credential focuses on using multiple measures and types of assessment that are directly related to the student learning experience itself.
Each of these micro-credentials provides an opportunity to develop and demonstrate a set of skills that increases our value as educators. As our profession transforms from lecturer to facilitator and coach, making these a part of our personal practice not only prepares us for the future of education, it prepares our students for their future success.
Start earning micro-credentials from CAPS Network and other issuers today by visiting the Digital Promise Micro-credentials Platform.