ERC was represented at the Educator & Workforce Micro-credential Summit, held recently in Redwood City, CA. This event gathered thought leaders, influencers, and practitioners in education and the workforce from throughout the United States. The main goal was to build the capacities and frameworks needed to recognize the skills of students and workers throughout their careers and education.
The summit started with a panel of representatives from the MacArthur Foundation, Carnegie Corporation, and Relay Graduate School of Education. They provided insights on the promises and best practices of micro-credentialing and badging. It was then followed by three breakout sessions.
For the first session, ERC participated in the technical road map discussion. Participants talked about the different priorities, challenges, and other factors for micro-credential platforms. A major component of those platforms is the Mozilla Open Badges Standard. An upcoming addition to the standard will be the inclusion of endorsement. This allows organizations and businesses to endorse badges created by others in order to add badge credibility and awareness. A concern mentioned was the potential that too many badges will eventually flood the micro-credentialing space, devaluing earners' achievements. A possible solution is the incorporation of a system similar to a block-chain to track and give value to badges.
In the second session, ERC attended the educator micro-credentials and education policy session. The moderator asked what shifts in local, state, and federal policies are necessary to best support the impact of micro-credentials for education professionals. The Superintendent of a Wisconsin school district provided insight on what she is doing on the local level. She is piloting a compensation system based on teachers' achievement of micro-credentials. Her system allows teacher to create and provide feedback on the micro-credentials they can earn. Another district provides stipends as incentives for teachers to earn micro-credentials as part of their post-credential professional development. However, to make both of these methods sustainable, reforms are needed in how education funding is allocated and the support of teacher unions and groups.
For the last session, ERC took part in discussion of measuring impact. We explored the potential research priorities and methods needed to determine the effectiveness of micro-credentials and digital badges. Some key questions were: 1) how well do the badges reflect the teachers' skills? and 2) how well do the badges improve their skills? A key outcome measure suggested is student test performance in the classrooms of teachers with micro-credentials vs. those without micro-credentials. However, there will be factors that affect the accuracy of the studies, such as micro-credentials that do not adhere to standards and guidelines.