Micro-credentials are digital certifications that verify an individual’s competence in a specific skill or set of skills. Digital Promise offers more than 600 competency-based micro-credentials on a wide range of research-backed skills. These micro-credentials are developed, assessed, and awarded by more than 50 partner organizations, ranging from institutes of higher education to non-profit organizations. When an educator submits a micro-credential, an expert assessor reviews the submission against the stated rubric, and offers helpful feedback – both when the micro-credential is awarded or sent back to try again.
Over the last year, we have seen many professional development shifts, including methods as well as content. We asked four teacher leaders across the country to share how their practice has been impacted by micro-credentials.
Professional development is one of the most influential practices in education. As a teacher, at times it can be difficult to find professional development that is geared toward exactly what you’re looking for. Micro-credentials have been an excellent way to ensure that I am developing teaching practices that are exactly what I am looking for.
I’ve had wonderful experiences with the two micro-credentials that I’ve received as well as the one that was sent back. The great thing about micro-credentials being rejected is it encourages you to look more closely at what you’re doing with your students. The feedback is always so positive and informative. It helps you to really learn from your mistakes.
Ongoing professional development is critical to the success of a teacher and the progress of students. I feel that professional development should be driven by teacher needs or interests and trends in education. Because we have been impacted by a global pandemic, the needs that teachers and students may have post-pandemic will be different. Many teachers have been forced to interact with technology in new ways. The regulations that have been put in place have challenged teachers to become innovative in how they approach reaching all of the learners in their classrooms.
Micro-credentials can be beneficial because they are self-paced and require teachers to think deeply about their practices and to try out new strategies in their classrooms. Teachers have the freedom to choose their own professional learning opportunities and focus on specific areas of interest. Another advantage of obtaining a micro-credential is that teachers can build their resume and possibly open new doors of opportunity for advancement.
As an educator, I continually make an effort to improve my practice because there are so many different ways to grow, and there’s always more I can improve upon to serve the students in my classroom well. In order to focus my efforts, track those efforts, and reflect on those efforts I became attracted to the concept of micro-credentials. Micro-credentials have supported my practice by providing me with a pathway to focus on a specific professional development goal without the regulated stress of a formal class. In many ways, I have learned more about my style of teaching, current standards of 21st century teaching, and best practices through micro-credentials. This is largely due to the structure and nature of micro-credentials as self-paced and self-monitored ways of professional development that is driven by my choice. In my early years of seeking professional development, I had to make choices between what I could learn very quickly during a conference or workshop and then try to retain all of that information when I returned to my classroom.
Oftentimes, I felt alone when implementing great strategies and practices from these professional development opportunities because unless a co-worker attended with me, there was no one to debrief with when you applied the skills to your practice. However, with micro-credentials, the reflection piece is the focal point. Even if I don’t have someone on the same learning pathway, the embedded reflection question allows me to think deeply about what I tried and applied in the classroom. The feedback that is given as to whether you successfully completed the micro-credential validates whether you’re critically analyzing your work—I like that push!
My practice has become more reflective and reminds me of the work that is required for seeking National Board Certification. It empowers my voice staff meetings because I know that I have internalized the professional development and allows me to modify curriculum with confidence.
The task of educating has always implied great challenges for teachers to stay updated because we live in a changing world. These changes affect the educational process, so the teacher is required to be more creative in finding solutions for their students to achieve the learning objectives. How do we do it? Through professional development. Professional learning is an ally of the teacher. Through various strategies, you can reinforce, consolidate, and expand your knowledge. One of the most efficient strategies is learning through micro credentials. These [micro-credentials] offer the opportunity to the teacher to be trained in what they really need and are interested in.
One of the micro-credentials I completed was Behavior Management in a Digital Classroom, because I was very concerned about how to keep students’ attention in virtual classes with the integration of various digital media. Through this micro-credential, I was able to build upon my knowledge about behavior management and develop an intervention plan to address situations that may arise during class and more effectively develop activities in my classroom.
This experience changed my perception of professional development. Participating in workshops is effective when the objective is institutional. However, when you want to attend to a specific need that you have previously identified in your own teaching practice, micro-credentials are ideal and very significant because they contribute to solving real problems in your classroom.
La tarea de educar siempre ha implicado grandes retos para que los educadores se mantengan actualizados, ya que vivimos en un mundo cambiante. Estos cambios afectan el proceso educativo por lo que se requiere que el maestro sea más creativo en la búsqueda de soluciones para que sus estudiantes logren los objetivos de aprendizaje. ¿Cómo lo logramos? Mediante el desarrollo profesional. El aprendizaje profesional es un aliado del docente. A través de diversas estrategias, puede reforzar, consolidar y ampliar sus conocimientos. Una de las estrategias más eficientes es el aprendizaje a través de micro-credenciales. Estas [micro credenciales] ofrecen la oportunidad al docente de capacitarse en lo que verdaderamente necesita y le interesa.
Una de las micro-credenciales que completé fue Manejo del Comportamiento en una Sala de Clases Digital ya que me preocupaba mucho cómo mantener la atención de los estudiantes en clases virtuales con la integración de diversos medios digitales. A través de esta micro credencial pude consolidar mis conocimientos sobre el manejo de la conducta y desarrollar un plan de intervención para atender situaciones que pudieran surgir durante la clase y desarrollar actividades en mi sala de clases de manera efectiva.
Esta experiencia cambió mi percepción sobre el desarrollo profesional. Participar en talleres es efectivo cuando el objetivo es institucional. Sin embargo, cuando se desea atender una necesidad específica que se ha identificado previamente en la práctica docente, las micro credenciales son idóneas y muy significativas porque contribuyen a solucionar problemas reales en la sala de clases.