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Micro-Credentials

During the 2017 COABE Virtual Conference, a discussion arose regarding micro-credentials. Many were interested in follow-up discussion and information. This topic has been discussed on this forum in the past, but this thread is for newcomers (both to LINCS and to micro-credentialing) to join in. We would love to have "experts" weigh in as well!

To get started, here are some links to get a broad overview of the topic. (I'm not endorsing any of these sites or programs - I don't know enough about the topic to do so - but I would love to learn from others with more experience!)

http://study.com/academy/popular/what-is-micro-credentialing.html 

https://www.educatorsrising.org/what-we-offer/micro-credentials

 

Looking forward to discussion!

Susanna

 

~~~~~~

Susanna Lee, Adult Educator

Denison, Iowa

Comments

Cindy Holden's picture

Thank you, Susanna, for getting us started with micro-credentials. I am joining in, sparked by the topic in the chat box, from the COABE Virtual Conference (which was EXCELLENT). That 2 day conference, which cost around $50 to attend, yielded 17 micro-credentials. I use short-courses and assessments with my students all the time to build their resumes and get them closer to a high school diploma. Developing digital badges, to capture achievements not currently recognized, has been on my back burner. This is a professional development group - so a chance to work on my own credentials. 

 

 

 

Kathy_Tracey's picture

Micro credentials has a great deal of potential, allowing educators the flexibility to build skills in areas that  pertain directly to their specific job role. I invite you to explore Digital Promise. The have a variety of stackable credentials. I invite you to explore these and share your thoughts. Are you interested in earning micro credentials? Why or why not? 

Looking forward to your thoughts. 
Kathy Tracey

SLL's picture

Kathy,

Thanks for directing us toward Digital Promise! I am interested to see one microcredential offered is called "Using Wait Time Effectively," which I would have considered more of an "art" than a "science" - but the logic presented is compelling.

With prospective employees increasingly needing soft skills to find job success, I have been wondering if and how microcredentials could play a role in verifying such skills. For example, how would a microcredential certify that a person arrives early/on time? That he/she dresses appropriately for the workplace? That he/she answers the phone in a helpful and positive way?

While I see some potential in this area, there are some skills that - for myself - are continuous works-in-progress rather than something that can be "mastered." If I can be on time 99 days out of a hundred, we might be able to say I have the ability to consistently be on time, but this doesn't translate for everything. For example, if I answer the phone pleasantly 99 times in a row, but then have a really bad day and snap at a caller, have I really mastered the ability to put my own feelings aside in a professional setting?

What does anyone else think about microcredentials for soft skills? Is there a way to offer them for any skill, or are there some areas that cannot be credentialed?

Looking forward to discussion!

Susanna Lee

Kathy_Tracey's picture

Hi All, 

One way I believe micro-credentialing can benefit everyone is the diversity in types of credentialing. Because these types of credentials are typically devoted to a very specific skill development, it is possible to hone in on a targeted area and really become an expert. Examples could be - Using Data to Create Classroom Engagement, or even Integrating Workplace Skills in the Classroom. The questions I have are for our trainers - do you offer micro credentials as a part of your yearly PD? If so, what are you offering? If not, is this something you are considering adding in the future?

Ironically, when we look at all of our bridging programs and college readiness - this is what we are doing. We are provding students with very targeted skills and demonstrating proficiency with the skill development through something very similar to micro credentials. Maybe we need to also model that for our educators? 

I'd love to hear everyone weigh in with the pros (and possilbly the cons) of something like this. 

Sincerely

Kathy Tracey

 

Nicholas Hobar's picture

Hello,

We've been using micro-credentialing and badges to recognize skill sets, products, and performances in e-learning programs related to the improvement of teaching and learning in education, business, and government sectors. You can check them out here:

https://www.learningfront.com/Media/lf_badges_v2.pdf

We like to recognize both specific professional skills and the broader skill set they are performed within. And focusing them on what an individual is expected to do rather than to know really makes an impact on transfer to the job setting.

Thanks for focusing on this topic and the opportunity to share.

Nick Hobar

David J. Rosen's picture

Hello Nick,

Thanks for telling us a little about the LearningFront educator professional development badges. I would like to know more and have a few questions for you.

  • Do you know if LearningFront badges are used by adult basic skills (including ESOL/ESL) educators? If so, where?
  • How do teachers and other educators use the LearningFront badges? Do you have examples of how teachers use them for raises, promotion, to fulfill professional development requirements, or examples of other uses?
  • Are the badges "stackable," that is, do they lead to a marketable credential?
  • Does a user have an online portfolio of badges that s/he can choose to share with an employer or prospective employer?
  • If employers select someone's badge, what can they expect to learn about what skills, knowledge (competencies?) the badge recognizes or certifies, and about the awarding process and agency? What else can an employer learn from selecting a badge?
  • Does LearningFront also offer micro-credentials/badges for learners?

Again, thanks for joining this discussion.

David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS CoP Integrating Technology group

djrosen123@gmail.com

Nicholas Hobar's picture

David,
Thanks for the reply and great questions. This is an exciting focus for collaboration. I hope the following responses are helpful. Maybe we could do a 30-minute GTM with anyone interested in exploring badges and micro-credentials further.

Nick

  • Do you know if LearningFront badges are used by adult basic skills (including ESOL/ESL) educators? If so, where?
    LearningFront would like to explore the possibilities for making this happen.
  • How do teachers and other educators use the LearningFront badges?
    They are posted in their LearningFront professional development profiles for sharing skill sets and accomplishments with the broader LearningFront community.
  • Do you have examples of how teachers use them for raises, promotion, to fulfill professional development requirements, or examples of other uses?
    They are earned to complete a LearningFront professional development program that may be required by a school system, fulfill college credits, or comply with requirements in a government contracted training or technical assistance program.
  • Are the badges "stackable," that is, do they lead to a marketable credential?
    Yes, they represent the demonstration of real world actions learned in a professional development program that leads to a LearningFront Certificate of Mastery. Each professional development program aligns its curricular standards, learning and practice activities, constructed response assessments, tools, badges, and certificate of mastery.
  • Does a user have an online portfolio of badges that s/he can choose to share with an employer or prospective employer?
    Yes.
  • If employers select someone's badge, what can they expect to learn about what skills, knowledge (competencies?) the badge recognizes or certifies, and about the awarding process and agency?
    The real world actions learned and demonstrated in a LearningFront professional development program and award criteria are fully described in the program description.
  • What else can an employer learn from selecting a badge?
    Based on the badges, the employer might consider becoming a colleague with the individual to engage in relevant programmatic discussions.
  • Does LearningFront also offer micro-credentials/badges for learners?
    LearningFront supports adults 18 and above who are dedicated to improving student learning.
SLL's picture

Nick,

Thanks for sharing this fantastic information! Very interesting!

With so many adult education practitioners coming to the field as a second career, as a part-time job, and/or with little experience/background in adult education (and with, to my knowledge, no nationally recognized certification comparable to a K-12 teacher's certificate), digital badges may be a way to increase the professionalism in our field, which is good for both educators and students.

I would definitely be interested in learning more about LearningFront. Can a GTM be set up sometime before the end of the year?

Thanks!

Susanna Lee

gouldm's picture

Hi,

LearningFront seems to be an online learning platform.  I like that it's customize-able, but my question becomes, then, who customizes, reads, and validates the projects?

-Peg

Nicholas Hobar's picture

Peg,

Thanks for the reply. LearningFront is a dynamic learning community that has evolved over the years with members representing public education, higher education, business, and government.

Content is developed and posted by LearningFront consultants and by staff from funded projects collaborating with LearningFront. For example, an e-learning program developed in a federally funded project would be validated by the project agency staff for its trainees. Their coaches and trainers would approve successful completion through online only or blended training models and award badges and certificates. That process would apply to school districts and colleges, etc.

LearningFront has also posted e-learning programs that have supported growth in low-performing urban schools; editable public domain standards of learning; and evidenced-based instruction and assessment practice templates for all members to adapt for lessons, units, and learning layouts. And they can be shared as WikiTasks within the community. Hence, the dynamic nature of creating and sharing content within a learning community.

Nick

Nicholas Hobar's picture

Susanna,

Thanks for the feedback and interest in a GTM for a deeper dive into badges and credentials. How about next week? I can set up a GTM "Open Discussion" for Tuesday or Wednesday. Any suggestions for which day and a time?

Nick

 

SLL's picture

Nick,

Thanks for the offer! I would love to take you up on it, but I am pretty booked up the next few weeks. Would sometime in maybe the second week of December work for you?

Thanks!

Susanna Lee

Nicholas Hobar's picture

Susanna,

That works. Monday (11th) and Wednesday(13th) are my best days. Please let me know...

Nick

S Jones's picture

      Reading the "have I mastered professional behavior if I snap on that bad 100th day?"   -- well, most of us have credentials and "mastered" skills that ... sometimes break, shall we say.  I snapped at a driver Monday night on my bicycle commute...  and I had just about perfected saying things like "a blessing on you and every one you endanger today" instead of ... other things.... 

     A downside to mini-credentials is that somebody could be much less closer to "mastery" but be able to fake it long enough for that mini-credential.   The mini-credentials can be fragmented, too. How many "credentials" should be integrated into our other skills?   What if we have mastered a skill but really only in the context of that credentialing process?   
 

SLL's picture

Ha ha ha! I love the commuting example! Thanks for sharing!

You bring up a great point and some really important questions when a profession is considering the "value" of microcredentials. As you say, if it is a shorter time frame, could someone "fake" a skill long enough to earn the credential? (Just as some individuals are able to present themselves very well in a job interview but then do not live up to expectations on the job.) It seems entirely possible, depending on the format of the credentialing course.

On the other hand, since a microcredential is extremely focused on a particular skill, might it go into more depth than a broader certificate? "Micro" does not necessarily mean a short time frame (although I think it is often implied). Maybe some credentials could be earned by repeating a small action for, as in our example, 100 days in a row.

If I were an employer, I think I'd be impressed if someone were able to show they had cheerfully greeted clients for 100 days in a row - which shows a pattern rather than a one-time achievement. Is this feasible? How could such a thing be measured?

Susanna Lee

Rachel Baron's picture

Your 100 days example reminds me of one of my students in recovery who proudly showed me the tags on her key chain for different numbers of days clean, or the signs up in factories marking x days without an injury. Are those micro-credentials? Could this model be expanded into a career pathways or job training program? (Ex: Was in class on time and with all materials x consecutive days.)

As with any assessment, this measures some things better than others. For example, it would be hard to reflect subject-matter knowledge or more contextual behavioral skills (like conflict resolution) this way. But, maybe it would help, in combination with other credentials, to paint a better picture of the student's strengths as a potential employee?

David J. Rosen's picture

Hello Rachel, Susanna and others,

In a competency- (proficiency- or mastery- ) based model, a competency (a learning objective, or an intended learning outcome) can be created so that behaviors over time can be measured by a learner, or by someone else. Here are two examples of competencies that include measures of behavior over time; the first is work-related; and the second is personal health-related.

1) Given a copy of a company personnel manual section on work attendance requirements (or a teacher's written attendance requirements) the employee (intern, apprentice, learner) will meet the requirements over at least six months (12 months, consistently over time, etc.) as measured by the employee log-in record, the teacher's class attendance record, etc.

2) Using a verified-accurate bathroom scale, and using a weight loss weekly log, the participant in the weight loss program will lose ( 1,2,3,4,5,6 ?) pounds per month, over a six-month period and his/her weight will be measured daily and recorded in the log each Saturday.

These are competency assessments or measures, but not necessarily micro-credentials. The evidence of performance on these measures might be part of a micro-credential, for example, in the first case, of an annual work attendance micro-credential, or of a class term/semester attendance micro-credential. Presumably an employer (or teacher in a next level class the learner was entering) would be given permission by the learner to access the micro-credential (digital badge) in her/his online portfolio, and could select it and learn what the competencies were that the badge covered; how, when and by whom the competencies were assessed; and what authority (a classroom teacher, a work supervisor, an apprenticeship supervisor, an accrediting association, etc.) assured that the competencies were met; and perhaps more information. The value of this competency-based micro-credential/badging online portfolio is that a prospective or current employer, or a teacher in the next level class the learner has joined, or another viewer given permission to access it can drill down on what the learner has demonstrated that s/he can do.

In a personal learning context, however, someone who wants to lose weight and, let's say, to be accountable to a family member, partner, or friend for doing so, might just share the log of weight measurements, and might not need a micro-credential. As a member of a professional weight loss program, however, there might be badges provided for those who attained their weight loss goals, and who wanted a badge.

How big or small a micro-credential is depends on the context. For example if there are "stackable" micro-credentials that add up to a nationally-recognized work credential, presumably there would be a national industry association and/or a national occupational industry teachers association behind how these micro-credentials were developed. On the other hand, a classroom teacher might want to break down a certain level of attainment of the school or program (ELL, math/numeracy, writing, etc.) curriculum into units of mastery that were recognized by a teacher- , program- or school-made micro-credentialling system for that class or school or program. Micro-credentials can be made smaller or larger, with learner self-assessment or not, and can be local, national or international, depending on their purpose(s).

Some companies, for example IBM, are developing or have developed an internal career pathways system with training, competency-based assessments, and micro-credentials that recognize what the employee has mastered. I believe that some parts of  IBM, and perhaps other companies, use this for determining employee advancement and promotion.

David J. Rosen

djrosen123@gmail.com

 

Galen Mitchell's picture

Hello all,

I'm really interested in discussing micro-credentials with folks who are looking at using, or are already using micro-credentials as part of a system for meeting the AEFLA requirement that instructors be "well-trained." Here in Colorado, we have an "Adult Basic Education Authorization" that is built around four courses provided at local community colleges (covering adult ed theory, lesson planning, instructional practice, and ESL), but we're looking at finding additional routes to attaining that authorization, and it seems like structuring things around micro-credentials might help increase flexibility etc.

So, if anyone else is doing this work, I'd love to chat.

gouldm's picture

Hi all,

Micro-credentialing is great for professional development; it's flexible too.  Galen asked for additional routes.  I'm not sure if this is a request to broaden the courses/topics or if it's additional delivery methods.  In any case, here are some additional courses/topics: IET, teaching critical thinking.  Other than hybrid or a lecture series, I don't have another presentation method.  I like that micro credentials could be started and completed within a 30 day span.  This would make the credentials attainable without being overwhelming, and I think people would be more likely to take ownership of their own advancement (to become 'well-trained').

gouldm's picture

Hi,

I have reached out to Florida based IPDAE regarding a centralized and standardized micro-credential set of offerings.  I hope to be able to post something before the Thanksgiving break next week.  What are peoples' overall thoughts regarding a central micro-credential that is available nationally?  Each state could tailor according to needs.  I might be putting something out here that IPDAE is not agreeable to, but we (I) be able to do some other research if this falls through.  -Peg

Kathy_Tracey's picture

This is great,

I am looking forward to hearing any information you have. Micro - Credentials seems to be a hot topic as we look for ways to develop / implement short bursts of high quality and relevant PD that targets a specific area and the teacher has some form of industry recongnized certificate. 

Thanks, 
Kathy 

David J. Rosen's picture

Hello Peg,

Your post is intriguing.

Is IPDAE the Florida Institute for Professional Development of Adult Educators?  If so, do they offer PD nationally, or only in Florida?

What is the "central micro-credential" that you are thinking of? Something in career pathways? Something else? Just one, or a set a micro-credentials? Are you thinking of stackable micro-credentials leading to an industry recognized credential? If so what is that credential?

David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS CoP Program Management group

djrosen123@gmail.com

 

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