Celebrating 20,000 Micro-credentials Awarded and the Lessons Learned – Digital Promise

Celebrating 20,000 Micro-credentials Awarded and the Lessons Learned

May 9, 2023 | By

When the Digital Promise Micro-credential Platform launched 10 years ago, there was a strong desire to reimagine teaching and learning with a focus on college and career readiness. At the time, there was great excitement about exploring the opportunities of using internet-enabled technology to support online learning and assessments. Digital Promise envisioned professional learning that provided autonomy, agency, job-embedded implementation, and a competency-based progression.

Lessons Learned Over the Years

As a global non-profit organization, Digital Promise designed the Micro-credential Platform to support competency-based micro-credentials that made use of digital badging technology. The early years were focused on conducting research and pilots to support the effective design, development, and implementation of micro-credentials. This early work revealed several important lessons:

  • Educators were deeply invested in pursuing professional development.
  • There was very little known about what micro-credentials were and how they worked.
  • Micro-credential use followed a technology adoption lifecycle.
  • Educators were Interested in micro-credentials that supported their ability to proficiently apply practices, rather than certifying attendance.
  • At the time, most people were not motivated to share their digital badges publicly.

From these initial learnings, Digital Promise launched several significant pilots across the United States in collaboration with a variety of partners to learn more. Collectively, these efforts experimented with Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), creating technology-rich cultures, integration with existing professional learning and credentialing pathways, and connecting micro-credential awards with pay and other incentive structures.

Getting to 20,000 Micro-credentials

Since the early years, the Micro-credential initiative has worked at the intersection of research, practice, and technology to positively impact the ecosystem.

To date, Digital Promise has partnered with more than 100 issuing partners, representing the work of many organizations committed to producing a beneficial effect on the educational sector.

This work has resulted in the development of more than 800 micro-credentials, more than 500 of which are currently active, that support all types of adult learners, most of which currently represent educators who are improving their instructional practice.

This work has resulted in almost 35,000 registered users who have earned more than 20,000 micro-credentials. These micro-credentials have addressed topics such as computational thinking, inclusive innovation, supporting students in digital learning environments, refugee education, financial literacy, media literacy, culturally diverse and responsive instruction, social-emotional learning, and so much more. Our users have found success in finding the micro-credentials that best suits their needs using the Micro-credential Explorer and Digital Promise Micro-credential Platform.

Although the platform’s users are predominantly K-12 educators in the U.S., many users also represent the early education, high school equivalency, postsecondary, and workforce sectors as well. In addition to instructors, the micro-credentials have supported instructional coaches, administrators, counselors, support staff, and many other roles critical to supporting whole-learner educational efforts. It is challenging to pinpoint exactly how many learners have been positively impacted by the thousands of hours educators have invested in improving their practice due to the direct and indirect impacts that occur naturally over time. However, it can be estimated that at minimum, hundreds of thousands of students have benefitted. When you consider that competency-based micro-credentials support sustained changes and improvement to instructional practices, these benefits likely extend throughout an educator’s career.

What’s on the Horizon for the Next 20,000

Currently, Digital Promise is focused on how to improve micro-credential practices for non-native English and multilingual speakers, non-educator workforce environments, and policy.

Looking to the future, Digital Promise will continue its strong track record in supporting educators in U.S. and beyond. This means championing U.S. federal and state policies that incorporate micro-credentials into educator preparation, licensing, and recertification efforts. Further, Digital Promise hopes to partner with interested international partners and institutions to develop educator micro-credentials and practices that meet the needs of educators beyond the U.S.

Next, Digital Promise is invested in providing high-quality competency-based micro-credentials directly to K-12 learners. We hope to provide additional options for K-12 learners to verify their skills regardless of the opportunities available to them in their home schools or communities.

Also, Digital Promise wants to provide all adult learners with increased opportunities for postsecondary credentials that offer economic security, well-being, and agency. This work is centered around providing continued access to innovative pathways that can lead to certifications, degrees, or improved employment opportunities.

Lastly, Digital Promise will continue developing the Micro-credential Platform to better support a diverse and increasing number of micro-credential applicants of all ages and at all academic and professional stages of life. Digital Promise is committed to doing this work alongside users using inclusive co-design principles and techniques that will support future advancements in learning and employment records.

Do you have a great story of how Digital Promise Micro-credentials have supported your personal goals or those of your organization? Please contact us to learn how you can share your story. If you are interested in learning more about micro-credentials, check out our current offerings on the Micro-credential Platform or sign up for our quarterly newsletter to stay updated on micro-credentials.

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