It is so easy to get sucked into an episode of some fixer-upper show on PBS or HGTV. As I watch, I start to think about different things within my own home that I would like to renovate. The experts on TV make everything look so easy that I assume, usually in error, that I can do it, too. This thought process has commonly become known as “The HGTV Effect.” Having unrealistic expectations without proper training or tools to complete the task appropriately is as common in the classroom as it is in homeownership. Educators return from a conference with grand expectations for revolutionizing their classroom only to find that making the changes described at the conference is far more challenging than they thought. There are pathways, though, that will enable educators to advance their skills and knowledge.
The thing that the experts have that amateurs do not is training and experience. After all, it is the training and expertise that labels them as experts. The expertise of the professional is usually hidden as they do not wear their resumés on their forehead. The amount of time they invested in improving their knowledge, as well as their craft, is what enables them to be as successful as they are. In the realm of education, some educators stand out as experts. These master educators have taken extensive time to invest in themselves which directly impacts their classrooms.
Some educators return from a conference having learned about a specific tool or pedagogy only to find that they are not familiar enough with those tools to implement them effectively. So how do they resolve this predicament? One increasingly popular option is Micro-credentials. Educators can get additional training in everything from how to use Google in their classrooms to becoming experts in programs such as Seesaw. Receiving supplemental training in specific programs or pedagogy elevates the value of that educator. Those who invest in themselves are then equipped to invest in others. When educators receive micro-credentials, they can offer training to other educators, and/or they become advocates encouraging others to get additional training.
Google has multiple tracks for becoming more knowledgeable regarding the use of Google in the classroom. They encourage you to pick a path that meets your needs. You can opt to become trained in different areas, or you can decide to become certified through Google so that you can lead and teach other educators how to use Google in their classrooms. Jocelyne Perreard, a teacher in Atizapan de Zaragoza, Mexico, said, “Google for Education certifications are really important for me. Even though I’ve used Google tools for years, the certification shows that I really know what I’m doing.”
Educators can earn micro-credentials in Google extensions as well. Writing this article prompted me to look into micro-credentials for Screencastify. I have used this extension with my students, but I want to make sure that I am maximizing my use of this tool in my classroom. The course was free, and it only took an hour to complete. At the end of the course, I was asked to use the extension to explain how I was going to use it with my students as well as take a 20 question quiz to demonstrate my mastery of the extension.
Because Flipped Learning involves multiple layers of understanding and skill, micro-credentials are an effective way to get additional training beyond just hearing about it at a conference. There are many available options for getting basic, supplemental, and advanced training in Flipped Learning (perhaps, too many), but how do you know you are getting the best training? The Academy of Active Learning Art and Sciences and The Flipped Learning Global Initiative (FLGI) collaborated to develop a gold standard for Flipped Learning professional development. This framework was created by an international cohort of experienced Flipped Learning educators who specialize in different facets of Flipped Learning: Project Based Learning, Gamification, Mastery, First-person Narrative, Socratic Seminars, Inquiry, and many more. FLGI took the micro-credentials process to a whole new level by adding accreditation to it. Educators who complete Level 1 and Level 2 training are eligible to receive college credit for completing the courses; far more meaningful than an icon added to your email signature.
Educators are learners by nature, and if we are going to have the greatest impact on our students, we need to invest in ourselves by continually learning and improving our craft. Unfortunately, not all professional development offered by a school or district aligns with educators’ passions, interests, or classroom needs. Micro-credentials enable us to personalize professional learning. Educators can engage in expanding our understanding of tools and pedagogy on our time and in an online environment.
If you are wondering whether educators value micro-credentials, start paying attention to the emails you receive from your colleagues. You’ll begin to notice that many of their email signatures are chocked full of micro-credentials for each of the new skills they have learned. If you see a micro-credential posted that you think might benefit you Google it. Often, training is free or rather inexpensive. By paying attention to the micro-credentials you can find great opportunities to personalize your professional development to meet your needs.
Micro-credentials are a convenient and effective way to elevate the quality of education that educators deliver. They also enable you to find colleagues who might have specialized expertise when you need help. So start paying attention to your peer’s micro- credentials and consider getting some yourself!