Can micro-credentials reboot professional development?
Remember merit badges? The reward for kids who master new skills has been rebooted—for their teachers.
So-called “micro-credentials” work a lot like scouting badges. Teachers complete a specific activity to develop a critical competency for their role, and earn a micro-credential based on showing mastery of the skill. They can collect micro-credentials to document growing expertise and share their accomplishments in the classroom.
This targeted training is in stark contrast to traditional, strikingly ineffective teacher professional development (PD). With its focus on seat time—awarding credit for showing up to workshops, conferences, or classes—formal PD has ignored whether teachers actually learn new skills, apply them, and improve student outcomes. And with its reliance on generalized, off-the-shelf programs, most formal PD does not target the specific skills or expertise an individual teacher may need to improve her practice.
Proponents of teacher micro-credentials hope to move beyond this model.