When teachers focus on professional development by taking continuing education classes, they are often required to attend “one size fits all” classes that don't meet their specific training needs. Micro-credentials have emerged as an answer to this problem. Courses are focused on specific topic areas, allowing teachers to take a course that benefits them directly and helps them achieve their educational goals. This "bite-sized" approach to continuing education has many advantages.
With competency-based continuing education, teachers are given credit for what they already know. Micro-credentials allow teachers to focus their continuing education time and effort on a specific area of interest in granular detail without going over topics a teacher is already proficient in.
Micro-credential courses offer shorter classes over a smaller time-frame because the course is focused on one major component of education. This means educators can spend more time in the classroom or educational setting implementing strategies and less time sitting in a conference room.
Micro-credentials are focused on issues that have a direct impact on the specific job of a teacher. While theoretical issues are included, the emphasis is on acquiring skills that can immediately be implemented in the classroom.
Certification and Credit
By completing a number of micro-credentials, some programs offer teachers the opportunity to earn credits toward certification. Others issue graduates a badge showing they have mastered skills in their area. Some schools, such as Fresno Pacific University, allow students to apply some micro-credentials toward degree credit.
Examples of Micro Credentials
Another advantage of a micro-credential is the wide variety of topics to choose from. Fresno Pacific University is a good example, with micro credentials offered in teaching and leadership, global compliance, STEM, and technology, among other areas.
Specific courses include:
- Instructional leadership
- Basic and advanced performance assessment design
- Creative thinking and innovating
- Digital fluency
- Core STEM teaching practices
- Global graduates
- Designing and facilitating high-quality professional learning
Meeting professional development requirements can be a challenge for teachers. Time and money are both issues. Micro-credentials have opened a new avenue, allowing teachers to expand their skills and achieve professional development milestones more efficiently.
Teachers are able to develop expertise in a specific educational practice in a setting in which they get feedback from outside sources as well as credit for what they have learned.
Using micro credentials for professional development is an approach worth considering for teachers who want to break down their continuing education into smaller parts, eventually developing mastery in complex areas of education.