Online Learning Portfolios and Micro-credentials

Technology and Learning Colleagues,

Beginning on Monday, July 13th, we will have a week-long discussion in the Technology and Learning CoP about Online Learning Portfolios (Electronic Portfolios/ePortfolios) and Micro-credentials. In preparation for the discussion, below are descriptions of online learning portfolios, micro-credentials, and career pathways, as well as links to other background readings that may be of interest.

David J. Rosen

Moderator, Technology and Learning Community of Practice

Djrosen123@gmail.com

 

Background on Online Learning Portfolios

Online learning portfolios (sometimes called electronic portfolios or ePortfolios) are useful to adult learners as a way to see learning growth and progress, and also as a way to demonstrate accomplishment to their friends and families, prospective employers, or college admission officers. Online portfolios are useful to teachers or tutors as a way to observe and measure learning progress, and to help both teachers or tutors and learners make decisions that ensure learning progress.

There are two kinds of learning portfolios:

1) A formative assessment (learning progress, e.g. writing) portfolio, and

2) A summative assessment (showcase, product or presentation) portfolio, often a refined formative assessment portfolio that through best examples of a student’s evidence of learning (e.g. writings, photos, video and audio files, slide presentations) and credentials, including micro-credentials, demonstrates what s/he knows and can do.

The summative (showcase, product or presentation) portfolio is a gleaned collection of student learning evidence designed for prospective employers, college admissions officers, or possibly as part of a competency-based secondary education credential such as the National External Diploma Program. Summative portfolios can be useful to employers, for example as authentic evidence of how an applicant writes, how s/he solves problems, and, in the case of an online portfolio, the learner’s digital literacy skills (that are also now included across the WIOA titles) and how s/he solves problems in a technology-rich environment. As with an artist’s portfolio, students collect and curate the best evidence of what they have learned and can do.

An online portfolio can take many forms, but it should be more than a collection of test results. The formative assessment/learning progress portfolio typically includes everything, or nearly everything, that the student writes or makes. Often the student(s) and teacher periodically review and reflect on the portfolio in one-on-one or small group meetings in which, based on their review, they may together outline next steps in the student’s individual learning plan. The learner generally participates in selecting the contents, especially of the summative portfolio.

Background on Micro-credentials

In the past few years, interest has grown in a new way to recognize online learning, called micro-credentials or sometimes, digital badges. These are online badges, not like ones worn on clothing, so they are ideal for including in a student’s online learning portfolio. Digital badges can be issued for adult learners’ small increments of learning, in WIOA performance metrics language small “measurable skills gains.”  Learners at beginning literacy levels, and their teachers or tutors, may see learning progress measured and recognized more frequently. At higher levels, digital badges can be “stacked” in collections that add up to certificates or other credentials that are recognized by employers, occupational training programs, or education institutions.

Digital badges typically store information about the meaning of the badge, for example: who issued it, the credentials of the issuing authority, what learning or competencies the badge stands for, and what it says about the person who holds it. If employers or education institutions want to know what the badge stands for, or want to know about the issuing organization, they can easily click on the digital badge to find out. Adult learners could provide a link to a portfolio with the digital badges they have earned, or could provide a link to a “badges backpack” (a learner’s private webpage where digital badges are stored) to prospective employers, or to a human resource department where s/he is employed, as evidence of qualifications for job advancement.

Digital badges were launched by the Mozilla foundation in 2011 with “An Open Badge System Framework,” a paper authored by Peer 2 Peer University and The Mozilla Foundation. The paper describes badges as digital images or symbols that indicate an accomplishment, skill, quality, or interest. Later that year, the Mozilla Foundation announced a plan to develop Mozilla Open Badges http://openbadges.org/, a system for issuing, collecting, and displaying digital badges on instructional sites. (Also see the Mozilla Open Badges Wiki, https://wiki.mozilla.org/Badges.) To see who is already issuing Open Badges, go to http://openbadges.org/participating-issuers. To learn more about the Mozilla Foundation Open Badges project, watch this MacArthur Foundation Video, “What is a Badge?” at http://www.macfound.org/videos/395/

Digital badges are web-based micro-credentials that in some circumstances can also lead to larger, widely recognized education or occupational credentials. One example of digital badges in adult basic education that can lead to an employment credential is the free, Northstar Digital Literacy Assessment https://www.digitalliteracyassessment.org/  (See their FAQ section items: “About Badging.” A good short introduction to digital badges will be found in a Digital Life and Learning article, “Finding Bilbo Badgins” at http://digilifelearn.com/finding-bilbo-badgins/

Background on Career Pathways

Electronic portfolios and micro-credentials can be used to demonstrate academic preparation, as well as specific career preparation.  While their use in career pathways programs is relatively new, it has quickly gained traction through social media and professional networking websites, like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Mozilla Backpack.

Former military personnel transitioning to the civilian sector are also using micro-credentials, sometimes called badges, to demonstrate their technical skills to potential employers through an initiative called Badges for Vets, https://badgesforvets.org/.

In urban, youth development programs across the U.S., in St. Paul, Chicago, Dallas, and Los Angeles, students are developing micro-credentials through participation in out-of-school time programs, in order to demonstrate professional competencies. Cities of Learning (http://citiesoflearning.org) supports youth in these cities to create portfolios that are used to showcase earned micro-credentials, examples of work, and peer assessments.  These micro-credentials are part of a larger career pathways program, which focuses on financial and digital literacy, employability skills and technical skills, such as CPR certification.

Micro-credentials and electronic portfolios are also making their way into post-secondary education.  A recent article in The Chronicle of Higher Education (http://chronicle.com/article/New-Players-Could-Be-in-Line/231333/?cid=at&utm_source=at&utm_medium=en) reports that Pell Grants may become available to students enrolled in Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). The U.S. Department of Education is considering a pilot project to allow post-secondary institutions to contract with educational technology providers for coursework while maintaining their institutional eligibility for federal grants and loans. Depending on the outcome of the pilot, students pursuing alternatives to traditional degrees, such as micro-credentials made available by ed-tech companies, may be eligible for federal student aid.  While questions of who would validate these partnerships have yet to be figured out, popular MOOC developers, such as edX and Udacity, could conceivably enter the post-secondary education market under such an arrangement. 

In each of these contexts, electronic portfolios and micro-credentials are being used to develop and expand career pathways for an ever-widening segment of the population. 

Other Background Readings to Help you Prepare for the Discussion

Micro-credentials

Online Portfolios

Career Pathways, Micro-credentials, and Online Portfolios

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Comments

Another advantage of eportfolios is that students in my class present their work orally in the class. Students who do this eventually improve their public speaking skills, their pronunciation, and confidence. It is a slow process for my group of multi-level ESL students, but my goal is to create a comfortable class community. Students use the LCD projector and demonstrate that they can find their files and show-case their work to their peers. The rest of the class feels motivated to do as well or better than the last presenter.

Group work is also an component of student eportfolios. My students create google slides together and inevitably take a look at each other's slides. Digital portfolios also allow for visual creativity. Group work emulates workplace collaboration, another important soft skill.

Sharon

Summary of the ePortfolio Discussion in the Technology and Learning Community on Monday and Tuesday, July 13 and 14, 2015

Technology and Learning Colleagues,

Here’s a summary of the discussion about online or electronic portfolios (e-portfolios) and micro-credentials (digital badges), which kicked off on Monday.  I will share a summary here again on Thursday or Friday, and a review of the week at the conclusion of the event.

The questions asked appear in bold, followed by a summary of the responses from the experts and LINCS T&L Community members.

From your perspective, what are the most important reasons for adult education teachers and programs to offer learners online portfolios?

Branka Marceta wrote that two important reasons are to build and improve on the adult learner’s digital skills, and to nurture the practice of reflecting on learning experiences.

Debbie Jensen wrote, “Some of my students come to my class fearful of technology.  From the first day I try to make a safe place for them to try, fail, and try again until they succeed with this new online world.”

Jennifer Gagliardi wrote that creating online portfolios helps her ESL students prepare for their USCIS Citizenship interview.

Jackie Taylor added that she introduces her students to LinkedIn, and gets them started using it, because it is an important networking tool for getting a job.

Do you see other advantages of ePortfolios?

Sharon Ram wrote that the greatest advantage she sees with ePortfolios is “organization (for both student and teacher)! Students have work that they can retrieve from Google drive and build upon, modify and/or review. It saves time from having to look through a binder for at-home assignments or yesterday’s classwork. And the soft skill of organization is an important skill to learn for our students. Students also proudly share their work with other students, family members and teachers.” Sharon later wrote about several other important reasons: “Students who do this eventually improve their public speaking skills, their pronunciation, and confidence”, and “Group work is also a component of student ePortfolios. My students create Google slides together and inevitably take a look at each other's slides. Digital portfolios also allow for visual creativity. Group work emulates workplace collaboration, another important soft skill.”

I (David Rosen) summarized as follows some advantages in using online portfolios over paper-based portfolios, from previous LINCS discussions on this topic.

  • “Many millennial adult learners thrive in a digital environment.
  • Many businesses are realizing some efficiency in using technology, especially as part of the hiring process.
  • There are many tools (Wikis, Blogs, Google Drive Tools...) that allow adult learners to store collections of their work and present their accomplishments professionally in a digital environment.
  • Learners don’t have to fear losing their important work if they save it online
  • The digitized evidence of their learning in their collections demonstrates learners’ accomplishments to themselves.
  • Learners find it convenient to upload evidence of learning (images, audio files, videos) from their smartphones. This motivates them to capture their accomplishments.
  • Learners can create work-related portfolios with evidence of learning in job-finding skills such as writing a cover letter and resume and interviewing, and work-ready soft skills, and they can share a link to their portfolios with prospective employers.
  • Employers are finding out much more about learners through these digital portfolios than any transcript might convey. 
  • Employers and admissions people may value demonstrations of accomplishments, and evidence of thinking or learning, when evaluating a potential applicant. "What can you do?" or "How did you do that?" become much more important than "What did you get for a grade?" or "What courses did you take?"
  • Learners adapt to these transitional student portfolios at a much higher rate, with much more engagement than with more traditional paper collections and models.”

Branka added the following as advantages of online portfolios over paper-based portfolios:

  • When stored online, the ePortfolio collections or individual artifacts can be accessed from anywhere with the Internet connection.
  • When stored online, the ePortfolio can be shared publicly, or with certain individuals, or kept private.
  • In a majority of tools, the written work can be edited, elements added or removed. The product does not have to be final and frozen in time.
  • When electronic, the portfolio can contain multimedia such as video and audio.

What do you see as some challenges to overcome if teachers or programs are to use online portfolios well?

I (David) summarized some challenges from previous LINCS discussions on this topic:

  • Teachers’ and learners’ lack of reliable access to Internet technology
  • Lack of support to help teachers become comfortable with the skills and processes available
  • For many learners there is difficulty in transferring skills learned from one platform to another, and as teachers we make it difficult by focusing our teaching of digital tools on only procedures.  “…practice and memorize where each button is and which menus contain what. In contrast, teaching learners about word processing and the basic operations that are in all word processors, then having them experiment with that conceptual understanding in multiple products prepares them to take the core essential understanding of word processing and apply it to any interface much more easily than the procedural instruction.” (Thanks to Ed Latham)

Branka added these challenges:

  • When publishing and storing online, adult learners need to be aware of what is shared publicly and what is private.
  • It may take time and training for both teachers and learners to master the technology tool.

Please give us some examples of how you, as a teacher or program administrator, are using online portfolios or, if you are not using them directly, please describe programs you are familiar with that are using them.

Guest presenters generously provided specific online examples of adult learner portfolios, information that may be helpful to teachers in designing an ePortfolio for their students, specific practices, videos of adult education teachers introducing ePortfolios to their students, and more. To see these examples go to the discussion.

Tell us about the students you work with who are using online portfolios: What are they studying (e.g. English language, preparation for HSE exam, industry, certification prep) and at what level(s)?

Teacher guest experts mentioned: ESL students preparing for U.S. citizenship, ABE students, Career and Technical Education (CTE) students and students who are seeking jobs or pursuing careers.

How are students who have online portfolios using them? Applying for jobs? Applying for job training programs? Applying for post-secondary education? Please tell us about this and, if you can, give us some examples.

Jackie weighed in on the question of e-portfolios vs. platforms like LinkedIn when creating a record of education and work-based competencies, by asking, “Is the purpose to showcase incremental steps in attaining a learning goal? Then I think the ePortfolio wins. But at some point the learner may / will want to create a LinkedIn account for networking and job searching possibilities. So at that point does LinkedIn prevail?”

Victoria Jones highlighted a two-minute video: https://youtu.be/YBHsFLbSGVo, where Mai Ackerman answers the question of how students can use their ePortfolios to get employed, or promote their own small businesses.  This is a worthwhile video to check out.

Suzanne Murphy commented that, “as students go through the job search process, most if not all information they are submitting to employers is online and employers are asking for links to their online portfolios like LinkedIn or Facebook.  I am having them create e-portfolios so that they learn how to post their resume, references, and certifications.  They can use this site as way to store all their necessary job search information but also they can e-mail the link to an employer, or network, to help them in the search process”.

What are some examples of how portfolios have been used successfully by students in demonstrating career preparation to post-secondary institutions and/or employers?

Jen shared a new approach to using e-portfolios in Minnesota.  The state has recently launched an alternative to the GED, called the MN Adult Diploma. As part of this portfolio system, learners upload evidence to satisfy each individual sub competency, which may include artifacts from work experiences. The diploma program is currently being piloted, with plans to make it available statewide in the near future. For more information on this work, please see the MN Department of Ed website: http://mnabe.org/programs/adult-diploma

Sharon shared a success story of someone who was applying for a job. “He brought in his laptop to the job interview and pulled up some documents to exemplify his points and skills. He was the only applicant who did that. He got the job! J”.

Another important conversation about employers’ checking of social media sites before hiring job candidates was started by Marshall Bautista, who noted, “Whether employers are asking to see them or not, we know that over a third of employers will do a screening of a potential employee's social media sites. Part of digital literacy is being aware of this while posting, liking, following, etc. This is definitely a topic that needs to be at least touched on in both employability and technology classes.”

Branka and Sharon echoed important concerns about privacy, stating, “How are educators handling student privacy?”

Do teachers need professional development or training in how to help their students use online portfolios? If so, what have you found works best? If you are a professional developer and you do this kind of training, tell us from your experience what you do, what works and what you would recommend for other states that want teachers to implement online portfolios.

Branka and Debbie both agreed that it is important to see more examples of programs “providing teachers and staff with a combination of training and support through webinars, in-house training and peer mentors, including introduction, implementation and evaluation,” for using e-portfolios with learners and job seekers.  Do you know of a program that is leading the way in professional development for working with learners on creating e-portfolios for the workplace?  If so, please share these with the community.

Other Highlights:

Branka and others mentioned students’ use of Google Docs as one step towards building an e-portfolio.  Here are some advantages that Branka has seen from students using Google’s products:

  • Being able to access content from anywhere there is an internet connection and access to technology
  • Writing essay drafts to share with peers and instructors
  • Collecting other records and documents to share with classmates and transition specialists
  • Use the Google calendar function to stay organized

Additionally, Branka noted that “students started using Google Voice to communicate with transition specialists working with them on their career and post-secondary planning.”   She also commented that students “ended with a portfolio as a collection of employment tools and information they can use to transition to college or (post-secondary) training.”

Jen also noted that the suite of applications available through Google Drive is an important tool for students planning to continue their education, “since so many post-secondary institutions use Google apps and email”.

I (David) shared the resource, Learner Web, which was developed at Portland State University, and is used in several states, including California, Texas, New York, Louisiana, and Minnesota. This blended learning model, used in adult education programs, libraries, workforce development programs, career centers has a feature called a Workspace, which is an e-portfolio. It is mostly used by adult basic skills and English language learners pursuing digital and health literacy, and career pathways.

David J. Rosen

Technology and Learning CoP Moderator

djrosen123@gmail.com

Colleagues,

Today begins the second part of our two-part discussion this week on online portfolios and micro-credentials. The first part, on ePortfolios, will continue throughout the week, but today we will also begin to discuss micro-credentials (digital badges). I hope our guest experts and others will continue to respond to earlier questions, but I would also like them -- and all of us -- to consider the questions that follow. I hope that we can look at micro-credentials from the perspective of how adult basic skills (including English language for immigrants) programs could benefit from using -- and in some cases creating -- them, and how they might be a useful part of a career pathways system for adult basic skills (pre-college level) learners.

As you may know, Michael Cruse, moderator of the LINCS Career Pathways CoP, and I, as moderator of the LINCS Program Management CoP, will also summarize and post this part of the discussion to these groups, as well as here.

As we have some guests whose interest and expertise is in micro-credentials and career pathways, they may not have contributed to the first part of the discussion, but, in case you want to read more about them,  their bios were included in one of the early messages in this thread.

I hope our guest experts, and other participants, can help to connect online portfolios/ePortfolios and micro-credentials as they might be used by teachers and administrators of programs; in collaborations among programs, career centers, community colleges, and occupational training programs; as these partner organizations identify and build career pathways; and of course for the ultimate benefit of adult learners.

Questions on Micro-credentials for our Guests

  1. How did you get interested in micro-credentials?
  2. Tell us about your experience with micro-credentials, for example developing micro-credentials or using them with adult learners.
  3. What do you see as the potential of micro-credentials (e.g. digital badges) for our field? For example, do you think they are a good solution for recognizing learner progress at the lowest literacy levels? Do you like them as small increments of learning that stack up to recognized credentials? Do you think they will appeal to employers, for example as measures of work-related basic skills or “soft skills”?
  4. What do you think is required for micro-credentials to succeed in adult basic education and career pathways programs?
  5. Could you describe some examples of the use of micro-credentials in adult basic education, adult secondary education, transition to post-secondary education or for underprepared students in post-secondary education? These could be for basic skills/academic skills or other knowledge and skills important to adult learners.

David J. Rosen

Technology and Learning CoP Moderator

djrosen123@gmail.com

 

As a baseline for any credentials definition in adult education, I think it's important to understand how credential is defined in the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act that governs our federal resources and performance metrics.  Here's the definition of postsecondary credential from the law:  "RECOGNIZED POSTSECONDARY CREDENTIAL.—The term ‘‘recognized postsecondary credential’’ means a credential consisting of an industry-recognized certificate or certification, a certificate of completion of an apprenticeship, a license recognized by the State involved or Federal Government, or an associate or baccalaureate degree." [Sec 3 (52)]
 

A few years ago, DOL Employment and Training Administration issued a guidance document on credentials for the workforce development system.  It is both comprehensive and limiting; for instance, it makes clear that "work readiness' credentials like ACT's National Career Readiness Certificate do NOT count as credentials for performance, and that some third-party validation (industry, educational accreditation, apprenticeship standards, etc) is necessary:  http://wdr.doleta.gov/directives/attach/TEGL15-10a2.pdf. 

Micro credentials are a new space. In terms of WIOA performance measures, micro-credentials might help adult educators demonstrate skill gain outside of the traditional CASAS/TABE structure.  

Thanks Judy. I am glad you provided this information. It is very important for us to consider.

I wonder how we should then look at what  "micro-credentials" means:

1) Small, stackable, credentials that are designed to (and do in fact) add up to a recognized postsecondary credential?

2) Small recognitions of achievement, perhaps useful to employers, that are not intended to lead to a recognized postsecondary credential? (As one example, I think of the Northstar Digital Literacy Assessment, which may be useful to learners and employers but, as far as I know, is not intended to be a recognized postsecondary credential. Jen Vanek, perhaps you could describe the Northstar Digital Literacy Assessment, and include information about the purpose(s) of its digital badges. I have also heard some discussion about micro-credentials for "non-cognitive", what some people call "soft skill" or "performance character", competencies in areas such as teamwork, problem solving, and persistence -- e.g. Angela Duckworth's research on "grit". If anyone knows of actual examples of micro-credentials for these non-cognitive competencies, please let us know about them.

3) Small, stackable recognitions of achievement, that do not add up to a recognized credential of any kind, but do add up to or approximate a level gain or attainment of competencies that are related to CCR standards, for example in language learning, reading, or numeracy, and that are concrete ("badge-able") recognitions of progress for both a learner and teacher?

Perhaps there are other definitions of micro-credentials as well, and if all the definitions are useful, perhaps we need to have clear language distinguishing the different meanings.

Judy, please tell us more about your thinking on how "micro-credentials might help adult educators demonstrate skill gain outside of the traditional CASAS/TABE structure."

I am also eager to hear the thoughts of others, for example Jeff Carter,  on this question of the definition(s) of micro-credentials.

David J. Rosen

Technology and Learning CoP Moderator

djrosen123@gmail.com

 

David, 

See my description of Northstar in post that follows.  

Regarding  the definitions listed above, I think they all reflect ways that badges/microcredentials could be used with ABE learners. Number 1 is more of a top-down approach and will likely take some time to gain traction.  Your second and third definitions are more bottom-up or grassroots and can be immediately useful.  One thing I've come to understand is that the badge is valuable only if the proficiencies it represents are clear and if the issuer is known/respected. Badging is useful in a classroom context for multiple pedagogical reasons. Beyond that, if the ABE program is known to local employers, then the badge takes on broader significance. 

 

Jen

Hi Jen,

All of your posts have been very informative! I think as teachers and agencies take a step towards issuing micro-credentials, hopefully a clearer use and issuance can be observed. In addition, this might be an opportunity for agencies to collaborate with local employers to come up with criteria and standards for micro-credentials so when they see that a student/prospective employee shares his/her stack-able micro-credentials, it actually means something to the employer. But I know, this might be a larger project for the school and local employer. So for now, badging in my ESL class represents (micro-)skills students have achieved and I only hope they retain them! I do my best to set criteria and measure them.

Sharon

My quick answer: I think all three definitions above are in play. Put simply, a micro-credential is intended to capture and communicate what an individual knows and can demonstrate at a more granular level than other types of credentials do. In which case I think all of those models you've listed apply. 

What's important is that they are backed by sources that can validate their issue; provide evidence of the achievements they denote; and are connected to strong and consistent standards. Again, I think all three models above can do this.

I want to share a resource as we begin discussing micro-credentials today.  Judy Mortude is with the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) and the Alliance for Quality Career Pathways.  She is also one of the panelists joining us this week to talk about micro-credentials, within the context of career pathways. CLASP works to "develop and advocate for federal, state and local policies to strengthen families and create pathways to education and work"  

Recently, CLASP along with the Lumina Foundation and more than 40 other organizations, started a dialogue on how to transform our diverse education and workforce credentialing system into one that is more student-centered.  In support of creating a space for this dialogue, CLASP has created a resource page, "Connecting Credentials to Improve Economic Mobility", which provides information to help understand credentialing in the context of career pathways, and the goal of creating a more interconnected credentialing system to improve economic mobility.

I look forward to learning more from Judy, the other panelists, and each of you, as we begin exploring micro-credentials.

Best,

Mike  

How did you get interested in micro-credentials?

My interest and work with micro-credentials has been specifically with digital badging and my work in support of the Northstar Digital Literacy Assessment. I initiated the integration of badging into Northstar. I was drawn to badging because of the potential for learners to have the means by which they can "prove" their skills, skills earned through either formal or informal learning.  We initially decided to try  it out because our learners kept losing the paper certificates earned after having passed an assessment and, due to the structure of Northstar, we needed an easier means by which learners could keep track of the assessments they had passed.

Tell us about your experience with micro-credentials, for example developing micro-credentials or using them with adult learners.

The Northstar assessments are offered in either proctored/secure environments or on an open website. We have allowed for badges to be issued in both. The badges are differentiated so that any employer can easily see in which environment the badge was earned.  In our proctored sites we have issued nearly 1000 badges in 12 months (approximately 23,000 assessments passed in that period). In our open site, just over 2500 badges have been claimed since badging became available in April of this year. Note that the learner has to claim the badge in order for it to be issued. Simply passing the assessment will not result in our issuing a badge. We use the Mozilla open-badges system for the work.

What do you see as the potential of micro-credentials (e.g. digital badges) for our field? For example, do you think they are a good solution for recognizing learner progress at the lowest literacy levels? Do you like them as small increments of learning that stack up to recognized credentials? Do you think they will appeal to employers, for example as measures of work-related basic skills or “soft skills”?

In light of Judy's comments in the previous post, I think that badges are ideally situated to prove incremental skills - skills that employers or post secondary institutions may value but which are otherwise difficult to document. They may also be useful for motivating learners. Watching badges pile up in a badge backpack (here's an example of one) can be a thrill.  Additionally, because it is a digital representation of skills, a badge collection can be easily included in a LinkedIn profile or in an emailed resume or cover letter. 

What do you think is required for micro-credentials to succeed in adult basic education and career pathways programs?

I think that educators need to just start using them!  We're in sort of a chicken and egg situation here and the more often employers see badges associated with qualified potential employees, the more they will begin looking for badges.  

Looking forward to reading about what you all are doing with badges!

 

Jen Vanek

 

Jen,

Thanks for sharing your knowledge and perspective on micro-credentials.  I think your comment about "the more often employers see badges associated with qualified potential employees, the more they will begin looking for badges", is true.  

I recently read an article about several U.S. universities joining with the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) to build a credential registry that will work to "increase the transparency and value of industry credentials..." The registry "will allow users to easily compare the quality and value of workforce credentials, such as college degrees and industry certifications, using a Web-based system with information provided directly by the institutions issuing the credentials", according to the press release.  You can read the project announcement on the ANSI website, and see the project work plan through the end of 2015.

Best,

Mike

 

 

 

Jen, and others (read through my post to the last paragraph to see who),

Jen wrote: "I think that badges are ideally situated to prove incremental skills - skills that employers or post secondary institutions may value but which are otherwise difficult to document. They may also be useful for motivating learners. Watching badges pile up in a badge backpack (here's an example of one) can be a thrill.  Additionally, because it is a digital representation of skills, a badge collection can be easily included in a LinkedIn profile or in an emailed resume or cover letter."

I often hear practitioners complain that the Adult Basic Education National Reporting System (NRS) beginning levels for literacy are not fine-grained, and that it often takes more than a year to see achievement of a level gain at these very basic levels. I also hear teachers say how important it is to build in easy ways to recognize small learning gains. I am wondering if you -- and if others in this discussion -- think that digital badges offer a good solution to these problems.

Jen, thanks for the useful information that it is easy to include a badge collection in a LinkedIn profile. Do you mean include a link to a badge backpack page?

In response to my questions about what is needed for micro-credentials to succeed in adult basic education and career pathways Jen wrote:"...educators need to just start using them!  We're in sort of a chicken and egg situation here and the more often employers see badges associated with qualified potential employees, the more they will begin looking for badges."   WIOA calls for partnerships of all kind. I wonder if you, Judy Mortrude , Jeff Carter, Carla Casilli (with Badge Alliance) and others here see potential for badge partnerships to address this chicken and egg problem. If so, please share your ideas about how state and local adult education program administrators, community colleges, occupational training programs, career centers, employers and employer associations,  and perhaps libraries could successfully build these partnerships.

David J. Rosen

Technology and Learning CoP Moderator

djrosen123@gmail.com

 

Hi Jen, 

You said "We initially decided to try  it out because our learners kept losing the paper certificates earned after having passed an assessment and, due to the structure of Northstar, we needed an easier means by which learners could keep track of the assessments they had passed."  We used that argument for digital portfolios, too, and I will continue to use it this school year when we try to raise more awareness about the concept of 'digital badges'.  I agree with you when you say that the educators should just start using it, and the larger policy-making will follow. 

~Branka 

Good morning, David and participants!

Below are some answers to your questions. I'll share my small-scale implementation of badging.

How did you get interested in micro-credentials?

I first learned about badges in Moodle (OTAN). In our DL program, we offer a few online options for Distance learning mainly for Advanced level learners. I issued my first badge in Moodle for the Advanced ESL Moodle course and for the EL Civics Moodle course. The badge signified that the student successfully completed the course, meeting the course requirements of passing the assessments and completing the course content. I continue to use Badges in Moodle courses, adding a discussion forum where students who post and reflect on weekly questions about their Career Extension Course in Burlington English. As Branka mentioned in an earlier post, reflection is key for both teachers and students for pausing and thinking about their practice for what they have engaged in and learned.

Tell us about you experience with micro-credentials, for example developing micro-credentials or using them with adult learners.

My experience with badging is rudimentary as my ESL students are still trying to understand it (compared to a paper certificate). After creating Moodle badges, I explored the Mozilla backpack (and I did not find it easy to figure out how to consolidate my badges) and eventually discovered credly.com. I like using credly for badging because there is a section on the badge where the issuer can link student/participant evidence. I presented at the Technology and Distance Learning Symposium (OTAN) earlier this year and issued a badge of participation to the attendees in my session. I was able to add a link to padlet.com that supported their presence and participation in my presentation. There is also a comment section in credly.

Additionally, I issue badges in my ESL computer lab. I have started issuing badges that demonstrate student achievement and mastery in small increments of skills. The badges state what the student is able to do as a holder of the badge. For example, “The holder of this badge has demonstrated that he/she can navigate through the class weebly site to access and complete daily lessons.” Or “The holder of this badge has demonstrated that he/she post in a blog.” Or “The holder of this badge can access the class google drive, locate his/her student folder, create documents, and complete class projects.”

And I do have assessments for the badge. Each assessment is specific to the skill. Specifically, I gave students a mini-assessment on creating a google doc and following the directions as well as using the toolbar. Students also had to create their own google slides. Each task receives its own badge.

What do you see as the potential of micro-credentials (e.g. digital badges) for our field? For example, do you think they are a good solution for recognizing learner progress at the lowest literacy levels? Do you like them as small increments of learning that stack up to recognized credentials? Do you think they will appeal to employers, for example as measures of work-related basic skills or “soft skills”?

I see micro-credentials as a tool for assessing skills in my computer lab. Once a student learns a technology skill, I think it brings an awareness what a student can do or needs to master. As for appealing to employers, I think a standard of issuing credentials might be useful. How is an employer to know if the micro-credential for a computer skill is equivalent to a certified MS Office Certificate?

Also, are educators and issuers of badges administering assessments for the badges?

Sincerely,

Sharon

Great idea to use Credly.  We were able to link directly to the Mozilla Badge Backpack because the Northstar project has it's own server and website. For organizations and educators who do not, sites like credly are an excellent option!  Thanks for mentioning it.

 

Jen

I am just getting started with all this stuff. This semester I had my intermediate ESL students log onto Google Drive and share a writing folder with me. About half the class has done this. We haven't gotten to the point of choosing which writings they want on their portfolio, I am just having them save their work. I can help them with grammar structures and such using the suggesting edits system. However, what is the most useful, is that we can conference on writing by using the comments section. Students can ask me questions and I can answer their questions like a writing conference. In addition, students can use a bluetooth keyboard and type their essays/paragraphs directly onto drive from their mobile devices. I found this semester that almost all of my students have smart phones and only a few of them have computers. Interesting shift, don't you think? I am going to go back and save all the fabulous resources that have been shared. Thank you

Hi, all.

Our Northstar Digital Literacy assessment project is run on our own website, linked to our own database.  Our developer integrated the code (Mozilla Open Badges Infrastructure) into our site.  Sharon mentioned previously that it is not easy to set up this relationship. Because it can be difficult for non-developer types (though not impossible, I'm sure!), sites like credly.com can provide an infrastructure, so that you don't have to build your own.  Do check out the Mozilla badges wiki for more information:  https://wiki.mozilla.org/Badges.  

Jen Vanek

I also wanted to share that once a badge is issued, you can not get it back. So, although we should get on board and get started, it takes some careful planning. For instance, if you create a badge and issue it to one person and discover an error in the badge, you can't retrieve it to change it. You will need to create a whole new badge. Just thought this was worth mentioning.

Sharon

I am still new to badging, but here are 3 examples of badges I have issued:

The first 2 are for students:

Badge Example 1 

Badge Example 2

Take note of the section on Testimonials. I like to use the "Key Concepts" badge.

And this example (used for PD) has an link to Evidence at http://padlet.com/sram/tdls2015

Is this how any of you envision using the badges? I do think that the criteria can explained more in depth. But I am not sure how many characters there are in Credly. I know that it is limited in Moodle.

So, should the badge accompany a "certificate" of skills or achievements accomplished? I see the badge as more of a quick visual of skills/achievements.

And I agree with Branka's and Jen's comment that the issuer should have some credibility.

Jen, can you share a badge from Northstar?

Thanks,

Sharon

 

How did you get interested in micro-credentials?

I had a chance to dive into the world of micro-credentialing when I was at Digital Promise. Digital Promise has an ambitious micro-credentialing project for K-12 teachers:

<http://www.digitalpromise.org/initiatives/educator-micro-credential>

I became interested in the potential of micro-credentials to address certain needs in adult education after being part of an initial convening for this project back in February of 2014.

What do you see as the potential of micro-credentials (e.g. digital badges) for our field? For example, do you think they are a good solution for recognizing learner progress at the lowest literacy levels? Do you like them as small increments of learning that stack up to recognized credentials? Do you think they will appeal to employers, for example as measures of work-related basic skills or “soft skills”?

I think they could be a solution for helping learners measure their progress at the lower levels, but it’s important to remember that a typical micro-credential is not just an indicator of progress towards a skill that has yet to be mastered, but an indicator that a specific (if narrow) skillset has been acquired. There’s a difference between a stackable credential and an indicator of interim (but incomplete) progress. A micro-credential should have some intrinsic value in and of itself. So how do you design a badge for interim progress towards literacy? I’m not sure, and I’m interested to hear what others think. 

I’m not sure I understand the question as it relates to employers. The concept does appeal to some chief learning officers and HR executives and training people in the business world. But I don’t know of any evidence (doesn't mean there isn't any) to suggest that basic skills mc's will resonate with employers. When looking at job applicants, I think the traditional credentials still hold tremendous sway as proxies for basic skills, even if most people who hire know that they aren't actually very reliable predictors of job readiness. For prospective employees without HS credentials, it's hard for me to imagine that employers will embrace a stack of basic skills micro-credentials as a substitute. On top of that, as most jobs are asking for more than basic skills as a pre-requisite for most jobs, I don't understand why employers will be particularly interested in a set of micro-credentials from an applicant that indicate the acquisition of skills below that level. I think for employers it’s most likely to play a role in incumbent worker training (and that might include basic skills). I'd be happy to be shown that I'm wrong about all this.

But if the goal is to provide low-skilled adults with greater power in the labor market, I suspect we have lots of work to do with employers to figure out how to make this happen.

What do you think is required for micro-credentials to succeed in adult basic education and career pathways programs?

In order to measure success, I think the first step is to be very clear on what problem it is we are trying to solve. If it is to develop stackable, portable credentials for incumbent workers so that they are able to move up and or onto better jobs, then that requires a certain strategy. If it is to provide a more meaningful structure for adults with very low skills to understand and demonstrate the progress they are making, that would involve another strategy. Define success and we’ll go from there…

I'll add that, like anything that we implement in adult education, I think both the definition of the problem and the measure(s) of success needs to have significant input from adult learners themselves.

Could you describe some examples of the use of micro-credentials in adult basic education, adult secondary education, transition to post-secondary education or for underprepared students in post-secondary education? These could be for basic skills/academic skills or other knowledge and skills important to adult learners.

I’m concerned that for very low level learners, they will always need to demonstrate a certain level of mastery of a broad set of literacy and numeracy practices in order to substantially improve their employment prospects, but I’m very interested in thinking about niche areas where adult learners with low skills could acquire and demonstrate acquisition of certain skills that could give them at least a modest edge in terms of employability. So, for example, it seems to me that micro-credentials related to certain digital literacy skills may give even lower- skilled adults an edge. I know that as an employer myself, it is almost impossible to determine –based on traditional credentials – whether an individual has basic digital literacy skills. I’d recommend taking a look at the Rhode Island Family Literacy Initiative, which uses the Northstar Digital Literacy assessment as the basis for a curriculum using Excel and Word as well as social media. At the end of each course, students receive a digital badge.

<http://www.digitalpromise.org/blog/entry/awareness-assessment-and-access-improving-adult-digital-literacy>

Thanks for joining us, Jeff.

You wrote: "a typical micro-credential is not just an indicator of progress towards a skill that has yet to be mastered, but an indicator that a specific (if narrow) skillset has been acquired"

It appears that we need to distinguish in our language between:

1) A credential, of which a standalone or stackable micro-credential is one kind, and an official post-secondary credential is another -- an official acknowledgement that a set of skills or knowledge has been acquired, and

2) An indicator of interim progress, or a learning benchmark that recognizes a small increment of learning progress, but that is not a micro-credential.

Would you agree?

If so, do you think that digital badges could or should be used for both?

You have asked "So how do you design a badge for interim progress towards literacy?" I wonder if anyone is working on that, or has done it. It seems like this would be very worthwhile for our field, especially for those whose focus is very basic reading and writing. It seems like reading badges would be a great feature for an adult literacy app, such as those called for in the new XPRIZE adult literacy competition.

To try to clarify, my question, Do you think [micro-credentials] will appeal to employers, for example as measures of work-related basic skills or “soft skills” refers to what have sometimes been called certificates, for example, the Microsoft certificates, food handling certificates, home health aide certificates, and perhaps others that have not yet been developed but for which employers say there is a need.  I have not seen employers who would be interested in generic basic skills credentials, but some might be interested in specific kinds of work-related basic skills for which they would like to see a micro-credential, for example: spelling, proofreading, writing in plain language, or carpentry math.Some might also be interested in certain non-cognitive skills micro-credentials that were based on evidence of persistence/grit, teamwork, and certain kinds of problem-solving.

You wrote, "But if the goal is to provide low-skilled adults with greater power in the labor market, I suspect we have lots of work to do with employers to figure out how to make this happen." Do you have additional thoughts on productive ways to accomplish this work with employers? Do others here have thoughts about how to make this happen?

You wrote: "In order to measure success, I think the first step is to be very clear on what problem it is we are trying to solve. If it is to develop stackable, portable credentials for incumbent workers so that they are able to move up and or onto better jobs, then that requires a certain strategy. If it is to provide a more meaningful structure for adults with very low skills to understand and demonstrate the progress they are making, that would involve another strategy. Define success and we’ll go from there…" This is very helpful, Jeff. In curriculum development this approach is now often called "backward design," i.e. starting with the desired outcomes and working backwards to define and implement in the curriculum what is needed to achieve them.

You wrote: "...I’m very interested in thinking about niche areas where adult learners with low skills could acquire and demonstrate acquisition of certain skills that could give them at least a modest edge in terms of employability." Do you -- and do others here -- have more examples of what these niche areas might be?

 

David J. Rosen

Technology and Learning CoP Moderator

djrosen123@gmail.com

 

Hey David and everyone who's been participating,

What a rich conversation! I have learned quite a bit from reading through all the comments and for that I thank each of you. David, you asked "Do you think [micro-credentials] will appeal to employers, for example as measures of work-related basic skills or “soft skills”? and my answer to this is a Yes. In fact, when Mozilla first did investigated what sorts of recommendations people were writing on a site like LinkedIn, it turned out that most of them were written specifically about soft skills / noncognitive skills. That said, this (digital credentials / micro-credentials / open badges) is a growing field and still quite young: getting people to understand the value of these objects is something that everyone needs to work at. Social, professional and personal currency do not spring up overnight. 

I also would like to touch on the thoughts mentioned earlier in the week about using badges to indicate personal progress. There is much to be admired in this use, particularly from a psychological perspective with an eye toward personal agency. Often when we're developing curricula, we're thinking of student outcomes that benefit the student in some way, but not necessarily considering the value of allowing the student to perceive their own progress in some uniquely identifiable way. Badges can help to make this happen, particularly those that are developed or co-created by the learner. Research seems to indicate that participation in the development of a testing measure or outcome encourages higher levels of commitment and persistence—something to consider as you begin to think about how you'd like to use badges in your process.

So many ways to think about how badges, micro-credentials, and e-portfolios may benefit and further ABE! Many thanks for this stimulating conversation!

Carla Casilli

 

Carla, I couldn't agree with you more about the need to help students perceive their own progress. In my work at Digital Promise, this need was something that came up time and time again when talking to stakeholders about the potential of technology in adult education generally, and it continues to be something I'm keenly interested in. I think you're right, there is a tendency to frame things around outcomes. I'm really excited by the notion of developing or co-creating badges with learners. Any good examples of this, in adult education or elsewhere?

I really like these two statements: 

Social, professional and personal currency do not spring up overnight. 

 Research seems to indicate that participation in the development of a testing measure or outcome encourages higher levels of commitment and persistence—something to consider as you begin to think about how you'd like to use badges in your process.

Can I quote you, Carla, as I go about raising awareness about ePortfolios, digital badges and micro-credentials?  I would give you full attribution, of course. 

~Branka, OTAN 

 

Jeff, and others,

I'm interested in your comment that "for employers... micro-credentials are... most likely to play a role in incumbent worker training (and that might include basic skills)".  Can you provide any examples of credentials being used in this capacity?  

I'm also interested if you, or others, have seen Badges for Vets used successfully by former military personnel when transitioning from active service to civilian employment?  Badges For Vets is a free website where veterans register and present their military training in the form of a micro-credentials to employers looking specifically to hire veterans.

Thanks,

Mike

Michael,

 

I can't think of an employer that is using badges as part of an incumbent worker training or professional development program (doesn't meant there aren't any). But I've had a lot of discussions with people who are exploring this, either as a way for employees to show accomplishment of a certain number of continuing education units or ongoing professional study, or as a way to credential an area of skill that is either emerging or not broad enough to merit a traditional credential.

A followup thought or two on the likelihood of employers embracing this concept:

For employers, I think the value of a badge will ultimately rest largely on the credibility of the issuer and the badge requirements. I think this poses an additional challenge for adult education institutions that are not well-known to employers that want to issue badges themselves. If currency with employers is a goal (and we've discussed there may be other goals), it might be advantageous for us to work with issuers that have a higher level of visibility/credibility with employers. 

For our constituency, I'm inclined to take more of a wait-and-see approach when it comes to badges and employability. It's still too early to tell whether employers will embrace the concept on a widespread basis, which I think will have to happen before I'll have confidence that they would provide a significant labor market advantage to low-skilled adults.

 

Colleagues,

This is the fourth day of our discussion on Online Portfolios/ ePortfolios and Micro-credentials and Digital Badges. Tomorrow is the last day.

Here are some more questions for our guest experts, and for others:

  • Could you describe some examples of the use of micro-credentials in career pathways programs for secondary, or post-secondary learners? 
  • What types of micro-credentials (e.g. digital literacy, academic prep, career prep, industry certification) have you seen the greatest demand for, or interest in from students, post-secondary institutions, or employers?  What is your sense of why these types of credentials have created the greatest interest?
  • For those who are using micro-credentials or digital badges now, tell us about how you assess students’ skills, how students feel about the assessments, and if you describe the assessment process in the badge information so that employers and others will know how the skills were assessed?
  • In the context of WIOA Title II, what are you thinking about the expansion of the “Measurable skill gain” performance metric.  While there isn’t specific guidance from ED on this yet, there will definitely be more than academic progress measures included (technical, occupational, and other).  Should digital badges be part of this?  If so, what level of rigor and validation of skill should we build into a badge process to make it robust enough to be a kind of NRS system for work preparation skills?

David J. Rosen

Technology and Learning CoP Moderator

djrosen123@gmail.com

 

Many career pathway programs for adult education participants embed smaller credentials along the way to a larger goal.  For instance, in a program with the ultimate goal of achieving an industry recognized credential in food safety (such as ServSafe), individuals might also earn a set of micro-credentials demonstrating digital literacy through the Northstar Digital Literacy assessments and a demonstration of work preparation through the National Career Readiness Certificate.  Neither of these certificates "counts" in the outcomes metrics by which our WIOA systems are measured, but they can be motivating milestones along the way to achieving an industry-recognized postsecondary credential and help individuals document and describe the other critical work skills they are gaining through the program.

In another context, Minnesota created the Essential Skills Certificate system. Minnesota's Essential Skills Curriculum provides teachers with classroom-ready lesson plans, handouts and assessments for use in CASAS Low Beginning through High Intermediate ESL, or CASAS testing Levels A, B and C. These lessons are tailored to the CASAS competencies that learners must master in order to complete CASAS Level C in reading, writing, listening, and math.  Learners who complete CASAS Level C in any content area may receive an Essential Skills certificate from the Minnesota Department of Education.  When all four skills have been achieved, the complete Essential Skills Credential (ESC) is awarded. A primary motivation for developing this program was to help English language learners see their momentum toward high school equivalency.

WIOA performance metrics will retain the big buckets of obtaining a secondary and postsecondary credential, gaining and keeping employment, and showing wage progression.  Perhaps the most anticipated guidance is how the WIOA Measurable Skill Gain will be figured for all programs under WIOA including adult, youth, and dislocated worker.  Of course, ABE is very familiar with academic skill gain as measured through the National Report System, and we all believe that will be part of WIOA as well.  But WIOA expands Measurable Skill Gain to include "technical, employability, and other" documented forms of progression.  This could be a very exciting space for micro-credentials and badges!

Judy's comments about WIOA's Measurable Skill Gain being a very exciting opportunity for micro-credentials resonated with me as I read about a two-week program known as GenCyber.  It is designed to inform teachers about cyber security technology, how to design curricula and prepare students for careers in the field. The National Security Agency and the National Science Foundation are funding the program, which is being taught by computer science faculty at the University of New Orleans, along with 28 other universities. Teachers will come from around the country to participate in 43 camps, with plans to expand to 200 camps by 2020.

This type of professional development opportunity has the potential to lead by example if it is able to offer teachers micro-credentials based on mastery of cyber security content. Even better if the teachers could then use this experience to teach classes to their students, based on the same credentialing system. Does anyone have firsthand knowledge of GenCyber's program, or know if credentialing may already be part of the program's intentions? It seems to me that cyber security would be a prime industry for leading the way with career-focused micro-credentials.

Mike

David,

You ask participants the following question: For those who are using micro-credentials or digital badges now, tell us about how you assess students’ skills, how students feel about the assessments, and if you describe the assessment process in the badge information so that employers and others will know how the skills were assessed?

Even though there is a plug-in in the Moodle version OTAN offers to the agencies in California, we have not explored the potential uses extensively. Currently, it is up to the instructors whether they want to issue a badge and what criteria to use. I have heard of examples where badges were issued for the completion of a course instead of or together with a certificate, and this is based on the assessment previously built in the course.

For me, what stands out from the discussion so far is the fact that various entities need to first establish themselves as a valid and credible issuer.

The badge I just earned with Credly offers a link to the issuer and has a place where the issuer can provide evidence See the links. 

- About issuer

- Badge interface with a link to evidence

OpenBadges project by Mozilla, has an elaborate process for those who want to issue badges on this platform. http://openbadges.org/issue/

`Branka, OTAN

Hey Branka,

Thanks for sharing that you're using Credly: they are one of the original Digital Media and Learning Badges for Lifelong Learning Competition winners and also one of the most well-known issuing platforms. 

For those who are interested in learning about additional badge issuing platforms, I recommend visiting this link: https://www.badgealliance.org/badge-issuing-platforms/ There you'll find many additional platforms, some of which are proprietary and some of which are free and open source. And it's worth noting that badge issuing platforms are being developed not just in the United States but throughout Europe and the UK. These are just the platforms that we know about. :) Happy badging!

Carla Casilli

 

I want to create a series of badges because there are so many Civics and Languages objectives that the students must master in preparation for the Citizenship interview that the task seems overwhelming.  Creating system of badges based on leveled N-400r interviews and civics units will make the task more manageable and fun.  It will also help balance classroom accountability with the very real time/family/work demands of Adult students.  Finally, we can more closely associate Civics/Lassguage gains with CASAS assessment gains.  I'm in.  This is my summer project.

Summary through Thursday, July 16 of the LINCS Technology and Learning Discussion on Online Portfolios and Micro-credentials/Digital Badges

 

Continued Discussion about ePortfolios

On Wednesday, the discussion continued on the use of ePortfolios and micro-credentials/digital badges, and their application to adult education and career pathways programs.

Sharon commented that “Teacher PD is essential for implementing eportfolios” as is direct learning from implementation, and that “implementation definitely has its share of trial and errors”.  She asked if anyone “has any experience implementing [EL Civics assessments] Objectives/assessments in a digital format” and wrote that she sees “great value in an online portfolio for ELC.”

Sharon mentioned other advantages of ePortfolios, that students can:

·      Present their portfolio work orally, using an LCD projector, and in doing so improve their public speaking skills, pronunciation, and confidence

·      Learn to work in a group, for example to create Google slides together, and that group work provides an opportunity to gain skills in collaboration, an important soft skill in the workplace, and

·      Develop their visual creativity.

Susan Gaer commented in the context of using portfolios that almost all of her students have smart phones and that only a few have computers.  Others commented that more of their students now use smartphones.

Discussion about Micro-credentials and Digital Badges

Judy Mortrude began this part of the discussion by cautioning that, “it's important to understand how credential is defined in the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act that governs our federal resources and performance metrics.” She provided a definition of postsecondary credential from the law:  “RECOGNIZED POSTSECONDARY CREDENTIAL.—The term ‘‘recognized postsecondary credential’’ means a credential consisting of an industry-recognized certificate or certification, a certificate of completion of an apprenticeship, a license recognized by the State involved or Federal Government, or an associate or baccalaureate degree." [Sec 3 (52)]” She also noted that, “A few years ago, DOL Employment and Training Administration issued a guidance document on credentials for the workforce development system.  It is both comprehensive and limiting; for instance, it makes clear that "work readiness' credentials like ACT's National Career Readiness Certificate do NOT count as credentials for performance, and that some third-party validation (industry, educational accreditation, apprenticeship standards, etc.) is necessary:  http://wdr.doleta.gov/directives/attach/TEGL15-10a2.pdf. “

She added: “Micro credentials are a new space. In terms of WIOA performance measures, micro-credentials might help adult educators demonstrate skill gain outside of the traditional CASAS/TABE structure. “

I (David) wondered how we should look at what  "micro-credentials" means, for example if they are:

1) Small, stackable, credentials that are designed to (and do in fact) add up to a recognized postsecondary credential,

2) Small recognitions of achievement, perhaps useful to employers, that are not intended to lead to a recognized postsecondary credential, and/or if they are

3) Small, stackable recognitions of achievement, that do not add up to a recognized credential of any kind, but do add up to or approximate a level gain or attainment of competencies that are related to CCR standards.

Jen and Jeff each responded that all three of my definitions reflect ways that digital badges or micro-credentials could be used with ABE learners. Jen suggested that the first one is a top-down approach, and the other two are grassroots/bottom-up, and can be immediately useful. Jeff added, “Put simply, a micro-credential is intended to capture and communicate what an individual knows and can demonstrate at a more granular level than other types of credentials do.”

Jen commented that “the badge is valuable only if the proficiencies it represents are clear and if the issuer is known/respected” and “if the ABE program is known to local employers, then the badge takes on broader significance.” Jeff commented similarly that, “What's important is that they are backed by sources that can validate their issue; provide evidence of the achievements they denote; and are connected to strong and consistent standards.”

Sharon commented that agencies could “collaborate with local employers to come up with criteria and standards for micro-credentials so when they see that a student/prospective employee shares his/her stack-able micro-credentials, it actually means something to the employer.” She said that she also sees badges through teacher eyes, as  “a quick visual of [students’] skills/achievements”

Mike commented that the organization that Judy works with, the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP),  “along with the Lumina Foundation and more than 40 other organizations, started a dialogue on how to transform our diverse education and workforce credentialing system into one that is more student-centered.  In support of creating a space for this dialogue, CLASP has created a resource page, "Connecting Credentials to Improve Economic Mobility", which provides information to help understand credentialing in the context of career pathways, and the goal of creating a more interconnected credentialing system to improve economic mobility.”

Carla Casilli, from Badge Alliance, commented about using badges to indicate personal progress that, “There is much to be admired in this use, particularly from a psychological perspective with an eye toward personal agency. Often when we're developing curricula, we're thinking of student outcomes that benefit the student in some way, but not necessarily considering the value of allowing the student to perceive their own progress in some uniquely identifiable way. Badges can help to make this happen, particularly those that are developed or co-created by the learner. Research seems to indicate that participation in the development of a testing measure or outcome encourages higher levels of commitment and persistence—something to consider as you begin to think about how you'd like to use badges in your process.”

Judy encouraged adult educators to join some upcoming conversations on credentialing that she provided links for.

The following were responses to my (David’s) questions about digital badges:

1. How did you get interested in micro-credentials?

Jen wrote that her interest and work with micro-credentials has been specifically with digital badging in support of the Northstar Digital Literacy Assessment, that she “was drawn to badging because of the potential for learners to have the means by which they can ‘prove’ their skills, skills earned through either formal or informal learning.” She wrote that they initially decided to try it out “because our learners kept losing the paper certificates earned after having passed an assessment and, due to the structure of Northstar, we needed an easier means by which learners could keep track of the assessments they had passed.”

Sharon mentioned that she first learned about badges in an OTAN Moodle and continues to use the in Moodle courses.

Jeff said he “dived into the world of micro-credentialing” when he was at Digital Promise, which “has an ambitious micro-credentialing project for K-12 teachers.”

2. Tell us about your experience with micro-credentials, for example developing micro-credentials or using them with adult learners.

Jen described in some detail her experience developing badges for Northstar digital literacy assessments.

Sharon said she explored the Mozilla backpack, but didn’t find it easy to figure out, and that she now likes using Credly. She added, “I have started issuing badges that demonstrate student achievement and mastery in small increments of skills. The badges state what the student is able to do as a holder of the badge.” She added that she has assessments for the badges, each assessment specific to the badge skill(s).

Carla added that Credly is “one of the original Digital Media and Learning Badges for Lifelong Learning Competition winners and also one of the most well-known issuing platforms”.  She encouraged us to visit: https://www.badgealliance.org/badge-issuing-platforms/ and explore additional credentialing platforms, some proprietary and others open source. She also noted that credential-issuing platforms are being developed not just in the United States, but throughout Europe and the UK.

3. What do you see as the potential of micro-credentials (e.g. digital badges) for our field? For example, do you think they are a good solution for recognizing learner progress at the lowest literacy levels? Do you like them as small increments of learning that stack up to recognized credentials? Do you think they will appeal to employers, for example as measures of work-related basic skills or “soft skills”?

Jen wrote,badges are ideally situated to prove incremental skills - skills that employers or post secondary institutions may value but which are otherwise difficult to document” and that they may also motivate learners.

Sharon wrote, “I see micro-credentials as a tool for assessing skills in my computer lab.”

Jeff wrote that micro-credentials or digital badges “could be a solution for helping learners measure their progress at the lower levels, but it’s important to remember that a typical micro-credential is not just an indicator of progress towards a skill that has yet to be mastered, but an indicator that a specific (if narrow) skillset has been acquired. There’s a difference between a stackable credential and an indicator of interim (but incomplete) progress. A micro-credential should have some intrinsic value in and of itself.” He added that some micro-credentials appeal to some chief learning officers, HR executives and trainers, but probably not basic skills micro-credentials. He added “If the goal is to provide low-skilled adults with greater power in the labor market, I suspect we have lots of work to do with employers to figure out how to make this happen.”

Carla responded “yes” to my (David’s) question, "Do you think [micro-credentials] will appeal to employers, for example as measures of work-related basic skills or “soft skills”?  She added that when Mozilla “first investigated what sorts of recommendations people were writing on a site like LinkedIn, it turned out that most of them were written specifically about soft skills / noncognitive skills.” She also commented that digital credentials / micro-credentials / open badges is a young and growing field, and that “getting people to understand the value of these objects is something that everyone needs to work at. Social, professional and personal currency do not spring up overnight.” 

4. What do you think is required for micro-credentials to succeed in adult basic education and career pathways programs?

Jen wrote that “educators need to just start using them!” She believes, and Branka agrees, that we are in a “chicken and egg situation” when it comes to creating value and meaning with micro-credentials, that “the more often employers see (micro-credentials) associated with qualified potential employees, the more they will begin looking for (them)”.

Mike agreed with Jen and Branka. He also mentioned that several U.S. universities are joining with the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) to build a credential registry that will work to "increase the transparency and value of industry credentials..." and he provided information for those who want to learn more about this.

Jeff wrote, “In order to measure success, I think the first step is to be very clear on what problem it is we are trying to solve. If it is to develop stackable, portable credentials for incumbent workers so that they are able to move up and or onto better jobs, then that requires a certain strategy. If it is to provide a more meaningful structure for adults with very low skills to understand and demonstrate the progress they are making, that would involve another strategy. Define success and we’ll go from there…”

5. Could you describe some examples of the use of micro-credentials in adult basic education, adult secondary education, transition to post-secondary education or for underprepared students in post-secondary education? These could be for basic skills/academic skills or other knowledge and skills important to adult learners.

Jeff believes that “traditional credentials still hold tremendous sway as proxies for basic skills, even if most people who hire know that they aren't actually very reliable predictors of job readiness.”  Furthermore, he notes that, “for prospective employees without HS credentials, it's hard to imagine that employers will embrace a stack of basic skills micro-credentials as a substitute”. He also thinks that for employers, micro-credentialing is most likely to play a role in incumbent worker training, over entry-level job requirements. 

Jeff wrote, “ I’m very interested in thinking about niche areas where adult learners with low skills could acquire and demonstrate acquisition of certain skills that could give them at least a modest edge in terms of employability” and gave as an example micro-credentials related to certain digital literacy skills.

6. Later, I (David) asked for ideas about how state and local adult education program administrators, community colleges, occupational training programs, career centers, employers and employer associations, and perhaps libraries could successfully build badge partnerships.

I also asked:

7. Could you describe some examples of the use of micro-credentials in career pathways programs for secondary, or post-secondary learners? 

Judy replied that “Many career pathway programs for adult education participants embed smaller credentials along the way to a larger goal” and gave the ServSafe food safety credential, Northstar Digital Literacy assessments and the National career Readiness Certificate as “motivating milestone” examples that could lead to the achievement of an industry-recognized postsecondary credential. She added, “WIOA performance metrics will retain the big buckets of obtaining a secondary and postsecondary credential, gaining and keeping employment, and showing wage progression.  Perhaps the most anticipated guidance is how the WIOA Measurable Skill Gain will be figured for all programs under WIOA including adult, youth, and dislocated worker.  Of course, ABE is very familiar with academic skill gain as measured through the National Report System, and we all believe that will be part of WIOA as well.  But WIOA expands Measurable Skill Gain to include "technical, employability, and other" documented forms of progression.  This could be a very exciting space for micro-credentials and badges!”

8. What types of micro-credentials (e.g. digital literacy, academic prep, career prep, industry certification) have you seen the greatest demand for, or interest in from students, post-secondary institutions, or employers?  What is your sense of why these types of credentials have created the greatest interest?

9. For those who are using micro-credentials or digital badges now, tell us about how you assess students’ skills, how students feel about the assessments, and if you describe the assessment process in the badge information so that employers and others will know how the skills were assessed?

Branka replied, “For me, what stands out from the discussion so far is the fact that various entities need to first establish themselves as a valid and credible issuer.

The badge I just earned with Credly offers a link to the issuer and has a place where the issuer can provide evidence See the links. 

- About issuer

- Badge interface with a link to evidence

OpenBadges project by Mozilla, has an elaborate process for those who want to issue badges on this platform. http://openbadges.org/issue/

10. In the context of WIOA Title II, what are you thinking about the expansion of the “Measurable skill gain” performance metric.  While there isn’t specific guidance from ED on this yet, there will definitely be more than academic progress measures included (technical, occupational, and other).  Should digital badges be part of this?  If so, what level of rigor and validation of skill should we build into a badge process to make it robust enough to be a kind of NRS system for work preparation skills?

Other Badge Comments:

Sharon cautioned that in issuing badges, “if you create a badge and issue it to one person and discover an error in the badge, you can't retrieve it to change it,” that you would need to create a whole new badge. She also provided links to three sample badges that she issued in Credly.

We still have today (Friday) for our discussion on micro-credentials and e-portfolios.  If you have an opinion, or knowledge of a program using micro-credentials to share with the community, please chime in now.

David J. Rosen 

Technology and Learning CoP Moderator

Djrosen123@gmail.com

Colleagues,

Today is the last day of our discussion on ePortfolios and Micro-credentials/Digital Badges. Please continue to respond to earlier questions and comments, and I would like to add two more questions for our guest experts' (and others') consideration:

1. In another LINCS discussion, in the Postsecondary Completion CoP in May this year, Duren Thompson had some interesting thoughts about the advantages of using a smartphone as a gateway to one’s ePortfolio. This might also be true for accessing one’s micro-credentials/digital badges. She mentioned:

  • Input ease – no need for a separate mouse and keyboard

  • More intuitive interface design – this is true of any touchscreen

  • Interface ease – “only a few simple choices on the home screen and each 'button' opens only one thing. You can only be looking at one thing at a time. In addition, most apps are 'simpler' than what you work with on a desktop/laptop.”

  • Ease of access for regular repeated practice. “Phones are more likely to go everywhere and so they are much more likely to be *on the spot* when you want to know something (or want to kill time). This FOSTERS regular, repeated use.  In addition, the interface ease above makes folks MORE likely to use the phone to do things - which also fosters repeated use. In my experience, *regular, repeated practice* makes almost ANYTHING easier to use.”

Do you agree that these observations apply to adult learners using ePortfolios? If so, what kinds and levels of learners?  Do they also apply to learners' use of digital badges and, if so, what kinds and levels of learners?

2. Susan Gaer noted in this discussion that most of her students have smartphones, but not necessarily computers, I would be interested to hear our guests’ thoughts about the need to design online portfolios and digital badge sites so they are optimized for smartphones as well as computers.

David J. Rosen

Technology and L:earning CoP Moderator

djrosen123@gmail.com

A bit off topic but related somehow, Sondra Stein let me know that the long awaited Education and Skills Online assessment will be online in early August: http://piaacgateway.com/esonline/   I think this may prove to be a very valuable online assessment and perhaps it will find a way into adult education's National Reporting System or even into use with the WIOA measurable skill gain performance metric. 

Thanks Judy (and Sondra), for this PIAAC ESO update. I believe that states, programs, higher education institutions and others may use this assessment for a fee per test-taker. I haven't heard that the fee has been announced yet, have you?

Some states have wanted PIACC Survey of Adult Skills (SAS) data reported by state and, so far at least, I do not think this has been possible. An alternative way to get those results would be for a state to administer the assessment itself to a scientifically random sample of adults within the state, although that might be prohibitively expensive for most states..

It would be interesting, too, if adult basic skills programs administer this to their students, to know how the results of samples of enrolled adult basic education or adult secondary education, or English language learners compare with the U.S. national results.

As the use of the PIAAC ESO develops, perhaps it needs to be a whole thread of discussion in this  -- and other -- LINCS Communities of Practice.  Since the SAS includes three parts: literacy, numeracy and Problem Solving in Technology-Rich Environments (PSTRE), we will want to at least focus on the PSTRE results here.

A clickable link for the Education and Skills Online page on the PIAAC Gateway is http://piaacgateway.com/esonline/

David J. Rosen

Technology and Learning CoP Moderator

djrosen123@gmail.com

 

I use the website to issue badges on Credly, but there is an app for mobile devices so students can can get instant notification of badges. Here is the link which shows how it would appear on a phone. Technology allows us to give/receive instantaneous feedback and most certainly smartphones are the key devices for that. Is that immediate feedback a critical component of student success and motivation? Do students get a great satisfaction from receiving a badge and viewing/sharing them on their smartphones?

Susan Gaer has been a leader in exemplifying use of mobile phones in the classroom for various reasons (flashcards, reminders, surveys, texting, etc,) and I think she has a lot of data and examples that support that mobile phones are most certainly a useful educational tool. So, it does seem plausible that e-portfolios and badges will become more mainstream on smartphones. The only problem is: the screen is so small! But I'm sure this can be resolved as there are even apps that allow one to connect a phone to a computer which is connected to an LCD to room projection.

There is a lot out there. Admittedly, it's hard to decide where to begin and this might be a question some teachers are facing as they take on projects like eportfolios and badges. So, for me the discussion on eportfolios and badges has 2 very different targeted perspectives: the student use as well as the teacher PD and implementation. Are both parties ready to dive into technology? What are the outcomes of using it for teacher and student? How relevant is it to the student? My ESL students don't really access their badges. I probably need to do a better job explaining it, but I think at this point I'm just jumping in and trying to learn all about it myself. In light of this discussion, I think using badges created by agencies and programs who has tested and implemented badges, might be a good place to start for me. I am hoping to learn more about Northstar and how our school can become a sponsor agency.

Thank you, everyone, for the excellent resources and food for thought. This was my first time participating in a forum in LINCS ESL. It's been very helpful thus far.

And thanks, David, for the informative summaries!

Sharon

I just want to touch on one other aspect to the badges/micro-credentials concept that I think holds some promise.    Badge enthusiasts often point to badges/micro-credentials as a way to bridge between formal learning and informal learning, and to authenticate learning that happens outside of the classroom.    I’ve been involved in a lot of discussions over the last few years about addressing the unmet demand for adult education by helping learners take advantage of online learning resources - this things like Khan Academy, etc... It seem to me that a micro-credential ecosystem that provides adults with a verifiable way to demonstrate mastery of skills obtained through such sources — as well as through traditional classroom learning— might encourage more use of these online learning opportunities. I think that if you could earn a micro-credential online that also has currency within the context of traditional programs, you might see more people mixing and matching online learning opportunities and classroom learning opportunities and that might spur increased use of online learning. In other words, the micro-credential ecosystem serves as a bridge between multiple learning environments, and across programs. 

One of the things I'm thinking about in my new role, working with and supporting adult education state directors and state staff, is whether there is a role for micro-credentials in providing state staff with recognition of the skills they have attained in their ongoing professional development and on-the-job skills acquisition.

​I think this is worth exploring in and of itself, for reason I won't go into here, but I also think it's a potential strategy for promoting the development of micro-credentialling for the learners we are serving. I'm inclined to agree with the suggestion made in the Finkelstein/Knight/Manning paper that came out a couple of years ago that if professionals working in the field bought into the idea of badges for their own professional development, that would encourage them to support the concept with adult learners. I might even take that a step further -- if the professionals in our field aren't embracing them, I wonder if it's reasonable to our learners to do so.

See: http://lincs.ed.gov/publications/pdf/AIR_Digital_Badge_Report_508.pdf, page 25

 

Technology and Learning Colleagues,

Here's a summary of our discussion on ePortfolios and Micro-credentials/Digital Badges through Saturday, July 18th.

Continued ePortfolio Comments

Jennifer wrote: “… too many teacher-created resources can overwhelm, instead of help, a student.  The solution: tap students' Civics and technical skills to collaborate and create their own Citizenship materials” and she gave a long description of the Eligibility Project in which she described a problem students had with the revised N-400 Citizenship application for Naturalization and how, to address it, her students created a collaborative Google Slide show about Eligibility. Jennifer also commented that her students access the Internet through smartphones, accessing student-made videos on a YouTube channel that were created as part of their e-Portfolios. She said they also take videos of each other with their phones during practice interviews and share them privately.

Jennifer offered some links to her CASAS summer Institute presentation, and suggested that there should be a badge for the September 17th US Constitution U.S. Citizenship Day for Adult ESL students.

Jane Eguez, from the National External Diploma Program, described the NEDP, including the design of the competency-based NEDP Assessment, and the role of the Assessor.  She wrote that candidates for the NEDP create a final portfolio that “is a tangible record providing evidence of the candidate’s mastery of all the competencies for the NEDP transcript and may be used by employers and colleges as they include extended writing samples, a resume, and demonstration of presentations using technology. All candidate portfolios are reviewed by a certified Assessor and then by a certified Portfolio Reviewer who conducts a ‘cold review’ of the portfolio and ensures inter-rater reliability of the assessment. When the portfolio is determined to be complete and accurate, the candidate’s name is submitted to a school whose school board members have sanctioned the NEDP for eligible candidates in their community. The school board awards a high school diploma to the successful candidate.”

Steve Quann wondered about other portfolio systems that might be in place for English language learners aside from those already mentioned; if, for example, portfolios created via Google or any other system are "accepted" as proof of competency in California or in other states.  He asked if there were other systems and platforms like NEDP’s that enabled adult learners who move within a state, or from state to state, to always have transcripts and e-portfolios with them (and have them recognized wherever they move.) He added, “Even if not yet implemented, does anyone see this as possible with Google or another platform? What are the challenges?”

Continued Digital Badges and Micro-credentials Comments

Jennifer wrote, “For school year 2016-2017, I hope to develop a badge/mini-credential system based on the "leveled" N-400r interview and oral/written assessment based on the USCIS 100 questions.  The badge system would be extremely helpful in monitoring the progress for a highly mobile population.  It would also strengthen the link between classroom practice and CASAS etesting/gains.”  She wrote, “Creating system of badges based on leveled N-400r interviews and civics units will make the task more manageable and fun.  It will also help balance classroom accountability with the very real time/family/work demands of Adult students.  Finally, we can more closely associate Civics/Language gains with CASAS assessment gains.  I'm in.  This is my summer project.” She added, that the key is empowering the students because in the Citizenship interview, unlike in class where students work together, an applicant must speak for her/himself.

Jeff  wholeheartedly agreed with Carla Casilli about the need to help students perceive their own progress. He added, “I'm really excited by the notion of developing or co-creating badges with learners” and asked, “Any good examples of this, in adult education or elsewhere?”

Branka wrote that she really liked these two statements from Carla: ”Social, professional and personal currency do not spring up overnight.” and “Research seems to indicate that participation in the development of a testing measure or outcome encourages higher levels of commitment and persistence—something to consider as you begin to think about how you'd like to use badges in your process.” She asked if she could quote Carla as she raises awareness in California about ePortfolios, digital badges and micro-credentials.

Mike asked if Jeff could provide examples of credentials being used in incumbent worker training, including in basic skills training. He also suggested that we look at Badges For Vets, a free website where veterans register and present their military training in the form of micro-credentials to employers looking specifically to hire veterans.

Jeff replied that he didn’t know of examples of badges in incumbent worker training adding that he didn’t mean to suggest that there aren’t any. Jeff wrote that he has had a lot of discussions with people who are exploring this, “either as a way for employees to show accomplishment of a certain number of continuing education units or ongoing professional study, or as a way to credential an area of skill that is either emerging or not broad enough to merit a traditional credential. “

Jeff added, “For employers, I think the value of a badge will ultimately rest largely on the credibility of the issuer and the badge requirements. I think this poses an additional challenge for adult education institutions that are not well-known to employers that want to issue badges themselves. If currency with employers is a goal (and we've discussed there may be other goals), it might be advantageous for us to work with issuers that have a higher level of visibility/credibility with employers“ and wrote that “It's still too early to tell whether employers will embrace the concept on a widespread basis, which I think will have to happen before I'll have confidence that they would provide a significant labor market advantage to low-skilled adults.”

I (David) posted two last questions for the week:

1. In another LINCS discussion, in the Postsecondary Completion CoP in May this year, Duren Thompson had some interesting thoughts about the advantages of using a smartphone as a gateway to one’s ePortfolio. This might also be true for accessing one’s micro-credentials/digital badges. She mentioned:

  • Input ease – no need for a separate mouse and keyboard
  • More intuitive interface design – this is true of any touchscreen
  • Interface ease – “only a few simple choices on the home screen and each 'button' opens only one thing. You can only be looking at one thing at a time. In addition, most apps are 'simpler' than what you work with on a desktop/laptop.”
  • Ease of access for regular repeated practice. “Phones are more likely to go everywhere and so they are much more likely to be *on the spot* when you want to know something (or want to kill time). This FOSTERS regular, repeated use.  In addition, the interface ease above makes folks MORE likely to use the phone to do things - which also fosters repeated use. In my experience, *regular, repeated practice* makes almost ANYTHING easier to use.”

Do you agree that these observations apply to adult learners using ePortfolios? If so, what kinds and levels of learners?  Do they also apply to learners' use of digital badges and, if so, what kinds and levels of learners?

2. Susan Gaer noted in this discussion that most of her students have smartphones, but not necessarily computers. I would be interested to hear our guests’ thoughts about the need to design online portfolios and digital badge sites so they are optimized for smartphones as well as computers.

Sharon replied, “I use the website to issue badges on Credly, but there is an app for mobile devices so students can can get instant notification of badges. Here is the link which shows how it would appear on a phone. Technology allows us to give/receive instantaneous feedback and most certainly smartphones are the key devices for that. Is that immediate feedback a critical component of student success and motivation? Do students get a great satisfaction from receiving a badge and viewing/sharing them on their smartphones?”  She added, “it does seem plausible that e-portfolios and badges will become more mainstream on smartphones. The only problem is: the screen is so small! But I'm sure this can be resolved as there are even apps that allow one to connect a phone to a computer which is connected to an LCD to room projection.”

Other Comments:

Glenda Rose, in light of this discussion,  urged people to read this article http://www.techlearning.com/blogentry/9574 

Judy mentioned the breaking news, for those who are interested in the PIAAC Education and Skills Online assessment, that it will be available in early August, and that more information is available at http://piaacgateway.com/esonline/  She thinks this could be a valuable online assessment, and that it may “find a way into adult education's National Reporting System or even into use with the WIOA measurable skill gain performance metric.”

I (David) replied about the use of the PIAAC Education and Skills Online assessment that: “Some states have wanted PIACC Survey of Adult Skills (SAS) data reported by state and, so far at least, I do not think this has been possible. An alternative way to get those results would be for a state to administer the assessment itself to a scientifically random sample of adults within the state, although that might be prohibitively expensive for most states.” And “It would be interesting, too, if adult basic skills programs administer this to their students, to know how the results of samples of enrolled adult basic education or adult secondary education, or English language learners compare with the U.S. national results.”

Summaries

Sharon offered a good summary of our discussion from a teacher perspective: “There is a lot out there. Admittedly, it's hard to decide where to begin and this might be a question some teachers are facing as they take on projects like ePortfolios and badges.” She added that for her the discussion has two very different targeted perspectives: student use; and teacher PD and implementation. She asked, “Are both parties ready to dive into technology? What are the outcomes of using it for teacher and student? How relevant is it to the student?” Answering her question personally, she wrote, “I think at this point I'm just jumping in and trying to learn all about it myself.” And  "In light of this discussion, I think using badges created by agencies and programs [that have] tested and implemented badges might be a good place to start for me. I am hoping to learn more about Northstar and how our school can become a sponsor agency.”

Jeff Carter offered some comments that might be a good summary from a policy perspective:

He wrote, “I just want to touch on one other aspect to the badges/micro-credentials concept that I think holds some promise. “

“Badge enthusiasts often point to badges/micro-credentials as a way to bridge between formal learning and informal learning, and to authenticate learning that happens outside of the classroom. “

“I’ve been involved in a lot of discussions over the last few years about addressing the unmet demand for adult education by helping learners take advantage of online learning resources - this things like Khan Academy, etc... It seem to me that a micro-credential ecosystem that provides adults with a verifiable way to demonstrate mastery of skills obtained through such sources — as well as through traditional classroom learning— might encourage more use of these online learning opportunities. I think that if you could earn a micro-credential online that also has currency within the context of traditional programs, you might see more people mixing and matching online learning opportunities and classroom learning opportunities and that might spur increased use of online learning. In other words, the micro-credential ecosystem serves as a bridge between multiple learning environments, and across programs”

Jeff added, as a strategy for adoption of micro-credentials, “One of the things I'm thinking about in my new role, working with and supporting adult education state directors and state staff, is whether there is a role for micro-credentials in providing state staff with recognition of the skills they have attained in their ongoing professional development and on-the-job skills acquisition."

​"I think this is worth exploring in and of itself, for reason I won't go into here, but I also think it's a potential strategy for promoting the development of micro-credentialling for the learners we are serving. I'm inclined to agree with the suggestion made in the Finkelstein/Knight/Manning paper that came out a couple of years ago that if professionals working in the field bought into the idea of badges for their own professional development, that would encourage them to support the concept with adult learners. I might even take that a step further -- if the professionals in our field aren't embracing them, I wonder if it's reasonable to our learners to do so."

I (David) think that Jennifer and Jeff’s comments are excellent summaries that offer sensible directions for all of us, whatever our roles. I am especially excited about: 1) professional development micro-credentials for state and local adult basic education administrators, and 2) a micro-credential ecosystem that provides adult learners with a verifiable way to demonstrate mastery of skills obtained through pursuit of a wide range of high quality online learning resources and classroom learning. Perhaps the next time we have a discussion here about micro-credentials, we’ll be writing about how these have been implemented!

David J. Rosen

Technology and Learning CoP Moderator

Djrosen123@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

 

Technology and Learning Colleagues,

I want to thank our guest experts for sharing their knowledge, wisdom, and experience.

Jeff Carter, Jennifer Gagliardi, Debbie Jensen, Victoria Jones, Branka Marceta, Judy Mortrude, Suzanne Murphy, Sharon Ram, and Jen Vanek: you each brought unique and important perspectives and terrific information to this discussion. On behalf of all of us here, I want to thank you for your time and thoughtfulness. I also want to thank participants who joined in the discussion: Carla Casilli, Susan Gaer, Mike Cruse, Jane Eguez, Steve Quann and Glenda Rose.

Although this concludes our discussion on this topic, those who joined the Technology and Learning CoP for the discussion -- guest experts and others -- are very welcome to stay as members of this Community of Practice as long as you like.

Although I will not continue to summarize the discussion, those who wish to continue to comment on it are still welcome to do so. New topics, too, are of course always welcome.

It's been an exciting and productive week, and now I am ready for a little relaxation!  I hope everyone has an opportunity to enjoy a little vacation time this summer! 

All the best,

David J. Rosen

Technology and Learning CoP Moderator

djrosen123@gmail.com

Facebook is reportedly rolling out a new feature that may expand the conversation on micro-credentials.  According to several sources (see links below), Facebook's profile tags were developed as part of an internal hackathon, where employees design interfaces that sometimes turn into features on the popular social network.

According to Fortune Magazine, "The feature will let users to add tags to their own profiles to describe themselves, as well as allow tags submitted from friends to be displayed on their profile. Users have the freedom to write whatever they want, even to include emoji. When a friend submits a tag, the user gets to approve it before it shows up on their profile. A person’s friends can also “like” tags, which affects the order in which they’re displayed, much like on LinkedIn where they’re displayed in descending order of votes".

It will be interesting to see if the adoption of this new feature will begin to tip the scale on the conversation about online references and credentials.

Best,

Mike

 

Reprting links:

http://fortune.com/2015/07/29/facebook-profile-tags/

http://www.theverge.com/2015/7/28/9062821/facebook-linkedin-profile-tags-feature-test

http://campustechnology.com/articles/2015/08/05/how-nanodegrees-are-disrupting-higher-education.aspx?m=2