Guest Post: From Consumption to Creation: Future Ready Librarians Embrace Micro-credentials - Digital Promise

Guest Post: From Consumption to Creation: Future Ready Librarians Embrace Micro-credentials

March 5, 2020 | By

As a former librarian and district leader, I found that success was the best form of advocacy—when the great work of librarians is shared and documented, good things follow for students and library programs. That said, it’s often difficult to effectively tell the story about how librarians make a difference for students and colleagues. Supervisors and colleagues may not completely understand the job of a teacher librarian, and there are limited ways for librarians to objectively validate and share their professional practice.

Completing this micro-credential pushed me to talk about my program and share what we are doing, which is something I am not very good at. As I shared work for each grade level, it also provided me an opportunity to vertically evaluate the program and see what changes should be made so students at every level have equal opportunity.
Bobbie Lowe
Teacher Librarian

The Future Ready Librarians® initiative has already changed the conversation about ways in which teacher librarians lead, teach, and support innovative learning in schools. Now in its fifth year, Future Ready Schools® (FRS) has grown beyond the more than 3,500 pledges of superintendents to become a national model for educators to collaboratively imagine and lead innovation and change. The Future Ready Librarians initiative aligns school libraries and librarians with strategic work through the Future Ready Librarians Framework.

Thanks to a partnership between Future Ready Schools and Digital Promise, the first Future Ready Librarians micro-credential, Empowering Students as Creators, is now available on the Digital Promise Micro-Credential Platform. This micro-credential focuses on how Future Ready Librarians “encourage and facilitate students to become increasingly self-directed as they create digital products of their learning that engage them in critical thinking, collaboration, and authentic real-world problem solving.” With teacher librarians across the U.S. embracing the maker movement as part of the Future Ready Librarians initiative, it was only natural to work with Digital Promise, a leader in national conversations about maker education and micro-credentials, to create an innovative professional learning tool for librarians.

Create More! Consume Less?

School libraries are shifting from traditional settings where information is consumed to modern library programs which support authentic student inquiry, design, and creation. A key part of the Future Ready Librarians Framework is empowering students as creators. Innovative library programs such as Riverside Middle School in Greenville, South Carolina, where students used human-centered design to respond to local needs through a collaborative and creative process to craft a “Read and Feed” kiosk for their community, exemplify this future learning focus. The Empowering Students as Creators micro-credential is designed to help all teacher librarians reflect, validate, and get feedback on their leadership and teaching in support of student design and creation in the library.

Working through the Future Ready Librarians micro-credential forced me to look at my program through a different lens. It encouraged me to look for ways to improve and if my goals were aligned with the outcomes that I wanted for my students.
Traci Chun
Teacher Librarian

Failing Forward

The development of the micro-credential was an opportunity to try something different, fusing educator interest in maker education with the emergence of micro-credentials as an innovative professional learning tool. In partnership with Digital Promise, a prototype micro-credential was created based on the Future Ready Librarian Framework. In addition to this partnership, assessors were recruited from national library leaders participating in the Lilead Fellows program.

Recognizing that micro-credentials are new to many educators, we conducted a series of pilots to learn, fail, iterate, and improve together. For issuers and assessors, the pilots helped improve the micro-credential, get feedback from participants, and understand how to scale implementation at the national level. Knowing the devil is in the details, we then asked intrepid teacher librarians to complete the micro-credential for quality control and validity, and to help us ensure a smooth and positive experience for participants.

Lessons Learned

Our pilot helped us learn a number of lessons which will assist us as we move forward. These include:

  • Self-guided professional learning is harder than sitting in a class. Like other self-paced online learning tools, when participants don’t have regular classes or instructors, getting work completed and submitted can be harder. Lesson learned: Create submission windows to help focus participation and motivate completion.
  • Competency-based performance is not the same as traditional professional development. Because the micro-credential requires professional reflection, artifacts, and evidence of learning and performance, it takes more time and thought to meet expectations. Lesson learned: Make instructions explicit and expect resubmissions.
  • Authenticity is essential. The micro-credential requires actual lessons and reflection based on current practices. Additionally, submissions are evaluated by practicing library leaders. Both the products and the feedback are grounded in the reality of school libraries and librarianship. Lesson learned: Strive to make expectations and feedback authentic and peer-based.
  • Teams are smarter than individuals. In developing and launching the micro-credential, there was an acknowledgment that expertise, engagement, and experience were essential to success. Working and collaborating across organizations and teams takes more time, but helps ensure a better product and process. Lesson learned: Thought partnership helps keep ‘fails’ to a minimum.

Spring 2020 Submission Window Open

Interested school librarians can access the micro-credential, complete the required components, and submit their artifacts for assessment. Submissions for the second cohort will be accepted through June 1 and then open again shortly thereafter. More information can be found at https://futureready.org/frl_micro/.

Find additional resources and learn more about the Future Ready Librarians initiative at futureready.org/librarians. To learn more about micro-credentials, visit digitalpromise.org/microcredentials.

This micro-credential has been made possible thanks to the support and partnership of Follett, the Alliance for Excellent Education, and Digital Promise.

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