Traditionally, teachers would take a course or workshop and at the conclusion be given a certificate of attendance which could then be submitted to your school as evidence that you had learned something new. Unfortunately, as most teachers know, just physically sitting in a workshop doesn’t mean that you learned something. For one reason or another, you could sit in the session and come out with no new knowledge.
Teachers have begun to reach out on their own to find and participate in professional learning experiences that meet their individual needs. Many of these experiences are informal, grass roots type of efforts. If it is a twitter chat or an EdCamp, you might learn something that fundamentally changes how you view learning and instruction but never get a certificate to hand in to your school.
In an effort to make these two different approaches equitable, educators have begun to question how we recognize the effort that one puts into acquiring new instructional skills. Should teachers be recognized for “seat time” – the amount of time they spend in an “official” learning activity? Can teachers demonstrate a new skill and be acknowledged for the work that they did to acquire that skill? Is one method better than the other or do they both have merit? These are some of the questions that are being answered by the surge of activity behind teacher micro-credentialing.
The concept of badges is not new. If you were a scout at some point, you received badges to demonstrate a skill that you had developed. Micro-credentials (or digital badges) work pretty much the same way. You work on a skill and then demonstrate mastery by submitting evidence to the organization that is offering the badge. Once awarded, you can add the badge to your social media profiles or to your email signature.
As is the case with most things in education, there are multiple paths for educators to get micro-credentials. Here are a few resources to help you find out more:
- Educause offers 7 Things You Should Know About Badges a quick fact sheet explains the basic concept.
- OB101 is a course on using Open Badges the badge platform offered by Mozilla.
- Digital Promise offers a micro-credentialing system in collaboration with a number of organizations.
- PDLN offers badges for teachers in conjunction with a number of school districts.