So many of us are intrigued by the idea of microcredentials and digital badges but we aren’t quite sure what steps to take in order to make them a realistic part of our educational offerings.
Digital Promise, a nonprofit working at the intersection of education leaders, researchers, and learning technology developers with the mission of improving the opportunity to learn for all Americans, has put together an exemplary framework to provide microcredentials and digital badges that we can all learn something from.
In this episode of the Leading Learning Podcast, Celisa talks with Jennifer Kabaker, Director of Educator Microcredentials at Digital Promise, about the organization’s efforts with microcredentialing and digital badging. Jennifer describes what they refer to as the “DNA” of the microcredentials, the search for the right technology to support them, and the impact that microcredentials and digital badges have on both extrinsic and intrinsic motivation.
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[00:18] –A reminder to check out the upcoming Leading Learning event, Learning • Technology • Design (LTD) to be held May 18-19, 2016 in Arlington, VA. The event is designed specifically to help professionals in the business of continuing education and professional development find new and better ways to engage learners and create lasting impact through the effective use of technology.
[01:48] – A preview of what will be covered in this episode where Celisa Steele interviews Jennifer Kabaker, Director of Educator Microcredentials at Digital Promise, about the organization’s efforts with microcredentialing and digital badging.
[05:31] –Can you provide a short history of the educator microcredentials that you offer—how and when the idea for them emerged and where you are in the process now? Jennifer explains how the process for developing a system of microcredentials focused on educators evolved from work they had been doing around digital badges for students. She talks about how they have taken the open badge technology and turned it into a powerful piece of professional learning currency for educators that is explicitly competency based as opposed to participation based.
[07:12] – I hear a lot of people who are really high on the potential of microcredentials, and others dismiss them as just fancy icons. Can you talk a little more about this idea of currency or about what Digital Promise is doing to make the microcredentials rigorous and more than just pretty icons? Jennifer first addresses why these are so important for educators, explaining that we need to recognize learning regardless of where it happens and facilitate the shift from seat time to competency. She shares the 3 ways they are turning this idea of microcredentials and digital badges into currency:
- Make sure that every microcredential is explicitly research-backed
- Ensure that it is evidence based
- Assess each piece of microcredential evidence
[10:40] – A discussion about how the 3 ways referenced are kind of like the DNA for the microcredentials because they all share a similar framework.
[11:17] – Who does the assessment for the microcredential evidence (#3)? Jennifer explains the process and shares that most of the microcredentials are done in a partnership with Digital Promise and an issuing organization who has content expertise in a particular pedagogical area.
[13:18] – Can you talk a little about your search for the right technology platform to support the microcredentials and where you ultimately landed? Jennifer shares that there are many players in the microcredential/digital badge arena but that they wanted to build a system that:
- Was specifically rooted in the professional currency and seriousness that they know teachers desire and deserve
- Empowered educators with agency to select and apply for microcredentials themselves—earner initiated as opposed to issuer initiated
- Would facilitate the assessment internally
She says that they are currently working with an organization called Bloom Board to design a microcredential/digital badging platform that facilitates these components.
[15:45] – Can you talk a little more about where you are in the rollout process? Jennifer shares that they launched the platform in November and have received a lot of enthusiasm from both educators as well as policy makers and district leaders. She explains how microcredentials can be a really powerful tool for personalizing professional development/learning and that they are working on building ways to incorporate them formally into professional development structures. Jennifer and Celisa also talk about the role that microcredentials can play in adding an element of extrinsic value and motivation to the already existing element of intrinsic motivation that exists.
[17:58] – A further discussion about extrinsic and intrinsic motivation and how Digital Promise is balancing both of these in their messaging around microcredentials.
[20:02] – Do you have lessons learned to share? Anything you’d definitely do differently or definitely do the same, if you had the design, development, and rollout of a microcredentialing program to do over? Jennifer reveals that initially they thought the idea of recognition was going to be really powerful but they learned that educators are primarily motivated by simply becoming better educators. The lesson they learned is to incorporate that talking point into the conversation in the very beginning to ensure that it resonates with educators. She also learned to have educators involved in the design process from the very beginning.
[22:27] – How do you approach your own personal lifelong learning? How do you keep learning and growing your knowledge and skills? Jennifer discusses how she has had to push herself in her journey to learn all about microcredentials and digital badges. She also talks about the power of learning from those around you as well as from the Internet.
[24:49] – How to connect with Jennifer and/or learn more about Digital Promise:
[25:29] – Wrap-Up
A reminder to check out the upcoming Leading Learning event, Learning • Technology • Design (LTD) to be held May 18-19, 2016 in Arlington, VA.
It is also mentioned that there will be a session on digital badges as well as other cutting edge learning and technology topics at LTD.
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[27:32] – Sign off