MICROCREDENTIALS LAUNCH IN DELAWARE
This spring, the Delaware Department of Education launched a “microcredentials” pilot program for Delaware educators.
It’s an exciting step for teachers. Here’s why: All teachers must train and submit 90 hours of professional development over the course of five years (or 18 hours per year). Most PD courses are passed down from district administrators and cover broad topics to cover as many teachers as possible. But microcredentials, which can be earned for an array of specific topics, online, and on a teacher’s own time, are an innovative way to personalize professional development and hone skills. Ten states, including Delaware, are already piloting microcredentials for teachers; five others are experimenting with microcredentials in some way.
Though microcredentials may be a relatively new model of professional learning, they give teachers choice and flexibility in developing their skills in the classroom.
Microcredentials help teachers develop skills relevant to their classrooms
What are microcredentials? The National Education Association defines micro-credentials as “a competency-based, digital form of certification that show competency or mastery in specific skills for an individual.”
But actually describing microcredentials in practice is a bit trickier. Districts will have to answer some questions about what experiences will count as a microcredential and what proof educators should submit for approval. Sites like Digital Promise and BloomBoard offer their own courses for teachers to take, but it’s also up to districts to vet any courses by online providers.
Once districts figure out what a microcredential will look like for their teachers, educators can begin personalizing their professional development. Teachers can earn microcredentials in a variety of ways, from taking a course on an uber-specific topic (say, adapting lessons for English language learners), or by attending a conference on a topic like integrating technology in the classroom.
Other hands-on experiences, like a summer fellowship in a community center learning from specialists on special needs students, or drafting a new discovery lesson with hands-on material that can be personalized for each student—can also occupy this category.
So long as their district approves it, teachers can earn a “digital badge” for their experience to demonstrate their competency.
Imagine your very own “Adapting Instruction for EL learners badge” on your digital portfolio, LinkedIn profile, and other websites. Microcredentials emphasize personal choice and demonstrations of skills so that teachers can be better prepared to work with their students.
Microcredentials allow for personalized professional development
Microcredentials give teachers more choice over their professional development based on their individual needs and the needs of their classrooms. According to a Rodel Teacher Council survey of educators across the state of Delaware, only 11% of educators believed that current professional development offerings have a high impact on student outcomes. Microcredentials provide an alternative way to engage teachers in order for them to learn and hone skills that will best assist them in the classroom.
Educators from the Rodel Teacher Council will participate in the state pilot
The microcredential pilot is currently underway for a group of educators from around the state of Delaware, including three members from the Rodel Teacher Council. These teachers will complete their choice of micro-credential offering by fall 2019. The selected Rodel Teacher Council members participating in Delaware’s micro-credentials pilot are:
Kendra Moritz-Rosner, Appoquinimink School District
Tim Brewer, New Castle County Vo-Tech School District
Robyn Howton, Brandywine School District
These three teachers have been instrumental in advocating for improved professional development through publishing policy briefs and meeting with the state education professional standards board. This microcredential pilot is a testament to their work; with it, professional development for teachers takes an exciting step in a more innovative and engaging direction.