What Are Microcredentials in Professional Development?

The landscape in education is continually evolving. Changing standards and policies, new technologies, shifting demographics, and a focus on inclusion are changing what is being taught and how. Teachers must be career-long learners to keep abreast of new findings, understand changes in priorities, take advantage of advances in technology, and address the needs of an increasingly diverse student population. However, it is impractical for teachers to carry a college course load alongside their teaching duties.

Traditional professional development (PD) programs often miss the mark when it comes to offering relevant learning opportunities for faculty and staff. A PD session is typically a day-long event, where all faculty members are presented with the same information, usually in lecture form, which provides little opportunity for learners to interact with materials. These twice- or three-times-a-year sessions are useful to introduce new policies, programs, and district initiatives but generally don’t build on previous learning and do not take into account an educator's specific content area or career stage. Studies show that learners can acquire new skills and knowledge more efficiently when content is presented in small units, is relevant to their needs, and enables them to immediately put new learning to use.

School leaders can build a more effective PD program by offering microcredential opportunities. With microcredentials, educators can achieve specific skill sets and be awarded for their accomplishments. This way, school leaders can quickly identify who has acquired a skill or competency in a specific topic.

What Are Microcredentials?

Microcredentials are certificates or badges awarded for completing short learning modules. These document a learner’s knowledge and mastery of a specific skill set or competency. In education, multiple subjects —for example, the use of specific educational software, IEP processes, or IDEA requirements—may be the focus of a credential. Learning is incremental, and credentials may be stacked to demonstrate skill development and professional growth.

Why a Program of Microcredentialing Is Effective for Professional Development

When microcredentialing is part of a district’s PD program, teachers can acquire relevant skills that they may immediately put to use. Rather than being locked into the syllabus of a semester-long college course or taking time away from their students to attend PD sessions that may not be useful, educators can choose to learn skills that fill in gaps in their knowledge and pursue a learning path that will help them be more effective in their classrooms.

Microcredentialing is valuable for formally assessing a teacher’s existing knowledge so they may move on to new learning. School leaders can customize credentialed learning paths to focus on district technology, policies, and curricula to create highly relevant PD programs. Learners may earn credentials through online lessons that they may access with a desktop computer or a smartphone and immediately apply new learning in the classroom.

Traditionally, PD is offered infrequently throughout the school year as whole-group training sessions. These conferences and workshops often present broad concepts and ideas without teaching discrete skills. But the narrow focus on microcredentials makes it possible for teachers to quickly acquire new skills and competencies. This type of PD will keep them up to date in their field and further their professional growth. Pursuing and completing the necessary work to earn a microcredential is satisfying, and learners are quickly rewarded for their achievements with badges or certificates. These, along with leaderboards, spark fun competition among faculty and staff, helping to create a culture of learning in a district.

Incorporating Microcredentialing into a PD Program with MobileMind

Massive Open Online Courses are available across the internet, and educators can pursue PD by earning microcredentials through one of nearly 1,000 universities. However, tracking the learning progress of an entire district’s personnel across multiple platforms is not logistically feasible, and generic courses will often not meet the specific needs of a district or individual teacher. With MobileMind, district leaders can create learning paths and lessons that focus on district and employee needs.

From the learning hub, district leaders can set goals and create personalized learning opportunities ranging from compliance training to mastering new instructional technology or understanding new district initiatives. Districts can customize learning to meet the needs of teachers and staff with varied positions and skill levels. Educators can access all courses from one location with a mobile device or desktop computer. With step-by-step instructions and hands-on challenges to reinforce learning, educators can quickly progress through lessons. Credentials are awarded automatically, and districts can follow each teacher's progress.

The learning hub serves as a central place for streamlining all PD in one space. In-person conferences, seminars, and workshops can be scheduled and managed, along with virtual learning. District leaders can track the continuing education hours, courses completed, compliance reports, badges earned, and the externally earned PD of an entire district, individual school, or group within the district. From the hub, they can identify who has achieved competencies and skills and who may need extra support.

Technology has made customized learning and microcredentialing possible. It is the modern way to build an effective PD program that meets the needs of a diverse staff. Teachers can take pride in the badges that they have earned, and they may include them in their portfolios and email signatures.

There is no other modern professional development solution consolidating all training efforts while providing a learning hub that streamlines and integrates remote and in-person professional learning for schools. Are you ready to level up your district's professional learning with MobileMind? Schedule a professional learning consultation here.