Micro-credentials and COVID-19: Supporting Professional Learning When Schools are Closed – Digital Promise

Micro-credentials and COVID-19: Supporting Professional Learning When Schools are Closed

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April 16, 2020 | By

In the last month, our teaching and learning environment has been upended. In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, districts and educators have been tasked with shifting teaching and learning online, and many are seeking resources to support learning in this new environment.

When Digital Promise first began building our micro-credential ecosystem more than six years ago, it was with a commitment to equity and access to professional learning opportunities for all educators. We are committed to that now more than ever. We recognize that while educators adapt to new realities, they remain dedicated to their students’ well-being and learning. Educators are searching for helpful resources to support their students as they shift to distance learning while connecting and collaborating with colleagues. Micro-credentials can support those goals, as educators can use the resources included within each micro-credential and submit evidence to earn micro-credentials for professional development. To help educators continue their professional learning during this time of social distancing, we have curated a library of micro-credentials which can be earned outside of the classroom and without students.

Micro-credentials are online and on-demand, supporting professional learning while adhering to public health decrees. Micro-credentials focus on a specific skill, which can help educators focus on one or two things they would like to prioritize during these rapidly changing times. We recently launched the Micro-credential Explorer to help individuals personalize their micro-credential experience based on job role, topics of interest, or nationwide standard.

The following are some key areas that micro-credentials can support during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Supporting students’ social and emotional well-being

Students are experiencing higher levels of stress and anxiety as their regular routines are impacted by COVID-19. This can show up in many forms, from food uncertainty for students who rely on their schools for meals to interruptions to their learning. It is important to provide space for students to discuss how they are feeling and to help them develop skills to navigate complex emotions. The Seeking Well-being micro-credential helps students develop lifelong health and wellness practices, while the Belonging & Caring micro-credential focuses on students having a consistent group of peers and adults to share what’s happening and develop a sense of belonging. Staying connected to students is especially critical for those whose families may be feeling the pandemic more acutely, whether family members are first responders or socio-economic factors make them particularly vulnerable.

Connecting with families

Schools are pillars of communities, and educators and parents partner to ensure students’ well-being and growth. Families are playing a greater role in their children’s learning during the COVID-19 pandemic, as many students are out of school and relying on home-based learning. Creating Positive and Productive Home-School Connections through digital communication can strengthen that relationship between teachers and families. Moreover, the Empowering Parents Through Technology micro-credential helps educators use one- and two-way technology for outreach to families.

Parents are also increasingly worried about what their children may access or be exposed to online. Student data privacy should not be a victim to tumultuous times. Schools and districts can use the resources in CoSN’s Student Data Privacy micro-credential stack to evaluate online providers for their data privacy practices and communicate with parents and guardians.

Accessing reliable information

COVID-19 is the first social media pandemic. While social media helps connect us, it has also accelerated the spread of misinformation and rumors about the virus. Misinformation can cause widespread panic and be deadly, as individuals turn to non-scientific methods of staying safe. The media literacy micro-credentials developed by KQED and PBS allow teachers to demonstrate expertise in teaching Pre-K-12 students to think critically about their roles as media consumers and creators—or in training teachers to do so. Learn more about earning a media literacy certification with these micro-credentials here.

Collaborating with peers and colleagues

Over the last month, Facebook groups and online spaces have sprung up to help educators connect, both for resources and to support each other’s emotional and mental needs. Educators are expert collaborators, and while many enjoy working together in person, these spaces are reminding educators of the ways in which technology can support virtual connection and collaboration. The Virtual Community Organizing micro-credentials support establishing and facilitating online communities to create common work, and the Transformative Collaboration micro-credential helps colleagues establish protocols to solve challenges together to help transform their schools. As educators use technology to support their professional learning, they can earn micro-credentials to demonstrate how technology played a role in professional growth.

Emphasizing digital equity and advocacy

More states and districts are starting to see how deep the divide is between students who have access to technology and those who do not. CoSN’s Digital Equity micro-credentials outline the necessary steps school leaders should take to create a plan for digital equity and identify and address challenges to equity across the district.

As educational inequities enter the spotlight, elevating teacher voices is important toward understanding how the current situation is being addressed and where we need to go from here. The Going Public with Policy & Pedagogy stack outlines best practices in using public writing to influence colleagues, parents, policymakers, and the general public.

Start earning micro-credentials

Begin earning micro-credentials today on the Digital Promise Micro-credential Platform. Check out our Micro-credential COVID-19 Library to find micro-credentials that can be earned outside the classroom, or use the new Micro-credential Explorer to find the right micro-credentials for you. Contact the Digital Promise Micro-credential team directly if you would like support in leveraging micro-credentials for professional learning.

For more resources to support you and your students during school closures, check out Digital Promise’s Online Learning page.

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