Micro-Learning Through Digital Platforms
Education’s timeline was shifted by the COVID -19 pandemic. Seen as a turning point, practices, policies, and research that existed pre-pandemic have come under scrutiny. Still, tension between crisis management and reform exists. In short, the goals of leaders during a crisis scenario tends to emphasize the need to minimize damage and restore order. With this in mind, progressive inclinations to move organizations or field in a new direction may become marginalized. Knowing where schools are on this continuum between stasis and dynamism is important to understand so that your service or product aligns with their culture.
It is safe to say, however, that changes to professional development (PD0 in education were happening prior to COVID -19. If you were to scan the PD landscape, you would see a garden of approaches and opportunities. Blooms of webinars, virtual cohorts, and other online options live among traditional opportunities (book talks, seminars, learning days etc.)
But as the pandemic shattered or skewed existing PD plans, school districts and organizations continued to innovate the ways they supported educators.
Among the PD options that have continued to thrive are micro-credential formats. To understand what micro-credentials are, I find this definition to be one of the clearer ones out there, Micro-credentials are short, focused credentials designed to provide in-demand skills, know-how and experience. Participants, in essence, educators register for on-demand PD opportunities that allows them to set a timeline for completion and then be recognized as having expertise in that field.
The district I work for has just recently launched their own micro-credential program. Existing opportunities from Google, Apple, and Pear Deck offer examples of micro-credential programs that recognize educators’ expertise with their digital tools. What’s more, an advanced approach, “Stackable micro-credentials” can also provide educators a pathway to a certificate or full degree.
Working with schools to develop new or supporting existing micro-credential PD options can happen in a variety of ways. But, the heart and brain of any successful program is the platform the program uses. This decision can easily make or break the use of and interest in a districts micro-credential program. Below are three elements that are both essential for a platform to be celebrated and pathways to partnering with schools.
- Information Display and Interface: The platform must be able to display essential information in a clear and inviting manner. This is includes the name of and description of the micro-credential, the skills users will learn, timeline information, how to register for the micro-credential, and what is needed (assessments, products, etc.) to be successful.
- Data security: How secure is the platforms data? Some of them use blockchain security, while others have different means of protecting data. Either way, security systems are needed to ensure that personal data is safe, that the credential is authentic and cannot be replicated or altered, and to protect proof of its completion.
- System Integration: Micro-credential programs will impact other departments. It is essential that the platform is easy to understand by developers, that it can integrate with other information systems, and helps facilitate and their ability to meet required expectations, timelines, and project deliverables
Of course, there is more ways to work with micro-credentials programs beyond its platform. I find inspiration in the words of Robert Bajor, founder of Micro-credential Multiverse. He states, “There is a growing body of evidence that institution-led micro-credential programs are maturing and starting to creep into our everyday educational lexicon. In my view and experience, institutions… are committed to high quality, valuable education experiences – they want to get it right.” How will your organization contribute to this achievement?
Written by: Craig Perrier
Educational Thought Leader and Practitioner
Craig is the High School Social Studies Curriculum and Instruction Specialist for Fairfax County Public Schools in Fairfax, VA. He also is an online adjunct professor of education for Framingham State University and the teacher certification program, Educate VA. Previously, he taught at American Schools in Brazil for six years and for six years in public schools in Massachusetts.
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