I consider myself to be a lifelong learner. This means that whenever the opportunity arises, I try to learn new things and it applies equally true to professional and personal pursuits. As an educator this is vitally important to my practice because how and what we teach is constantly evolving. Andragogy refers to any form of adult learning (Kearsley, 2010, as cited in Pappas 2013). According to Knowles, there are 5 assumptions of adult learners: self-concept, adult learner experience, readiness to learn, orientation to learning, and motivation to learn (Knowles, 1984, as cited in Pappas 2013. As an adult learner and as an educator, I personally believe the last one is the most important – motivation to learn. I also believe that it ties directly to ISTE Educator Standard 2.1a – “Set professional learning goals to explore and apply pedagogical approaches made possible by technology and reflect on their effectiveness” (ISTE, n.d.a). If someone is lacking the motivation to learn they are less likely to effectively be able to meet ISTE Standard 2.1a.
As a leader in my school when it comes to technology integration in the classroom, I spent the first month of the 2020 school shutdown becoming a Google Certified Educator. When it was time to come back to school virtually in the fall, I was the designated trainer in my school – teachers and paraeducators attended my training sessions on how to utilize the Google Education Suite tools in their online classrooms. My question for Module 2 is what learning platforms (learning management systems) have certifications available and should teachers be encouraged to become certified? Furthermore, should districts help compensate teachers who seek these certifications – i.e. pay for the testing and training? This question directly addresses ISTE standard 2.1a.
My research led me towards the world of micro-credentials. Micro-credentials are all the rage these days, not only in education but across many professional development fields. Sometimes micro-credentials are also referred to as stackable credentials or badges. Micro-credentials are “designed to allow educators to explore PD that is meaningful to their practice and advances their skillset. ‘Four key features define educator MCs: They are competency-based, personalized, on-demand, and shareable. As a personalized learning design, MCs allow educators to focus on a discrete skill related to their professional practice, student needs, or school goals’” (Crow & Pipkin, 2017, as cited in Hunt, et al., 2020). The world of micro-credentials is so much larger than I ever imagined.
My first observation is that there is not much in the way of regulation of micro-credentials and EdTech badges. According to Oliver (2019) not enough research has been done on micro-credentials and there is confusion regarding recognition of micro-credentials. There is also a lack of national alignment – making it difficult for employers, learners and institutions to assess quality of the courses and their value (Oliver, 2019). In the EdTech world there are three main certifications that I could find for educators, each on the three main learning platforms used in classrooms – Google, Apple and Microsoft. While there is no overarching governing body for EdTech, the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) does have a Seal of Alignment program. This program requires companies to go “through a rigorous review process by a panel of ISTE Standards experts to ensure they help build the skills spelled out in the standards indicators” (ISTE, n.d.c). Currently both Apple and Google are listed on the ISTE website for alignment. Microsoft is not listed as having the ISTE Seal of Alignment, however, in 2016 both companies announced their mutual collaboration and most recently they worked together in 2021 for the ISTE conference online.
Review of the big three:
ISTE standard 2.1a is “Set professional learning goals to explore and apply pedagogical approaches made possible by technology and reflect on their effectiveness” (ISTE, n.d.a). The entire Apple Teacher training program is extremely closely aligned to this standard. The first level of certification is learning the basic programs for either a Mac or an iPad, the second level of certification is about implementing the different programs into your classroom teaching practices. In order to pass each portion of the second level of certification you need to show how you implemented the programs in your teaching practice and reflect on how using technology benefited the lessons and your students. Teachers are also asked how they shared their lesson with colleagues – which directly connects to the collaboration piece in ISTE 2.4 Collaborator. The third Apple Teacher certificate is for Swift Playgrounds – Apple’s coding program.
Apple received the ISTE Seal of Alignment in 2021. One thing that I really like about the ISTE Seal of Alignment is that you can review the reports online and see exactly how each program aligns with the ISTE standards – you can view the report here. All told, the initial certification takes approximately 16 hours. According to Amin-Ali (2021) the certification can be done in as few as 4-5 hours if you are already familiar with the Mac and iPad applications. The Apple Teacher Portfolio takes longer to complete due to the teach and reflect aspect of the certification. The Swift Playground certification takes approximately 8 hours to complete. One of the biggest benefits of the Apple teacher certifications is that they are free for teachers to complete. One major benefit of the Apple teacher certifications is that they do not expire and the tests are all free to take.
The Google Training Center also has the ISTE Seal of Approval as does the Google Certified Trainer certification. Google Certified Trainer is one step above a Google Certified Educator and requires additional training and testing. The Google Training Center received its ISTE Seal of Alignment in 2018, you can view the report here. Like Apple, the amount of time to complete the Google Educator Certification is largely based on how familiar you already are with the Google platforms, on average 10-13 hours (Amin-Ali, 20). Google Certified Educator credentials are good for 3 years and then you must retest. Testing costs $10 for level 1 and $25 for level 2.
The third major company offering certification to educators for learning management systems is Microsoft. Their educational center is changing on May 1, 2022. I personally found their website to be overwhelming and challenging to navigate. Microsoft offers several different badges that educators can earn, as well as the Microsoft Certified Educator “Expert Certification” that teachers can test into. The Microsoft Innovative Educator (MIE) program has three levels – Microsoft Innovative Educator (MIE), MIcrosoft Innovative Educator Trainer (MIE Trainer), and Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert (MIE Expert) (Microsoft, n.d.). Microsoft offers 142 different courses for educators on a range of topics. For each module that you complete you earn XP which builds up to badges and trophies. The entire learning center feels very gamified. If you want to become an Expert Microsoft Certified Educator there is an exam you can take that costs $127 USD. If you want to become an MIE Trainer – the course is approximately 8 hours long, you can read more about the training here.
Final thoughts and recommendations
My original question for Module 2 was: what learning platforms (learning management systems) have certifications available and should teachers be encouraged to become certified? Furthermore, should districts help compensate teachers who seek these certifications – i.e. pay for the testing and training?
What learning platforms have certifications: Google, Apple and Microsoft all offer certifications of some kind to educators. Training for all three is available for free to educators. Google requires a google login, Apple requires an AppleID, and Microsoft requires an Outlook account to get started. Apple certification and MIE certification are both free to teachers. Google requires a nominal fee to take their exams. Microsoft requires a much larger fee to take their test to become expert certified.
Should teachers be encouraged to become certified? I personally believe that yes, teachers should be encouraged to become certified. At the very least, they should be encouraged to take the free courses that are offered to them on the learning platform that their district utilizes. All three platforms are ISTE aligned and are designed to improve classroom practice.
Should districts help compensate teachers who seek these certifications – i.e. pay for the testing and training? I have no good answer for this. As someone who has paid for the Google certification tests, would it have been nice to have my district pay – yes. Would have I taken the test regardless of whether or not my district paid, yes. I took the courses and tests because I am a lifelong learner and I am driven to continue improving my classroom practices. I do think that if a district is looking to advertise itself as a Google, Apple or Microsoft distinguished school district, then they should absolutely be compensating their educators acquiring the certifications, as these certifications are directly benefiting the school district.
Amin-Ali, K. (2021, February 16). Apple, Google and Microsoft certification: A guide. TES Magazine. https://www.tes.com/magazine/archived/apple-google-and-microsoft-certificates-guide
Arkansas Department of Education. (n.d.). Microcredentials. Arkansas Division of Elementary & Secondary Education. Retrieved April 30, 2022, from https://dese.ade.arkansas.gov/Offices/educator-effectiveness/educator-support–development/professional-learning-through-micro-credentials
Dunworth, M. (2022). Lifelong Learner Word Cloud.
Geller, A. (2021, May 21). There’s a badge for that: Three ways micro-credentials enhance professional learning. EdTech Digest. https://www.edtechdigest.com/2021/05/21/theres-a-badge-for-that/
Harris, M. (2017, May 30). The case for completing corporate EdTech certifications. The International Educator. https://www.tieonline.com/article/2140/the-case-for-completing-corporate-edtech-certifications
Hunt, T., Carter, R., Zhang, L., & Yang, S. (2020). Micro-credentials: The potential of personalized professional development. Development and Learning in Organizations, 34(2), 33-35. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/DLO-09-2019-0215
ISTE. (n.d.a). ISTE Standards: Educators. International Society for Technology in Education. Retrieved April 27, 2022, from https://www.iste.org/standards/iste-standards-for-teachers
ISTE. (n.d.b). Google training center. International Society for Technology in Education. Retrieved April 27, 2022, from https://www.iste.org/standards/seal-of-alignment/google-training-center
ISTE. (n.d.c) Seal of alignment. International Society for Technology in Education. Retrieved April 27, 2022, from https://www.iste.org/standards/iste-seal-of-alignment#educator
ISTE. (n.d.d.). ISTE Standards Seal of Alignment. International Society for Technology in Education. Retrieved April 27, 2022, from https://info.iste.org/seal-of-alignment
Jain, S. (2021). Technology and education – Prospects of future classroom. Shanlax International Journal of Education 9(3). https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1300884.pdf
Kelley, C. J. (2019). Professional learning in the digital age: A phenomenological study on the lived experiences of educators’ participation in programs sponsored by technology vendors (Order No. 22620357). Available from ProQuest Central. (2305862437). Retrieved from https://ezproxy.spu.edu/login?url=https://www.proquest.com/dissertations-theses/professional-learning-digital-age/docview/2305862437/se-2
Konopelko, D. (2021, January 9). How to Maximize the Value of Edtech Certifications. Edutopia. https://www.edutopia.org/article/how-maximize-value-edtech-certifications
McGreal, R., & Olcott, D. (2022). A strategic reset: Micro-credentials for higher education leaders. Smart Learning Environments, 9(9). https://link.springer.com/article/10.1186/s40561-022-00190-1
Microsoft. (n.d.). Microsoft Innovative Educator (MIE) programs. Microsoft Learn Educator Center. Retrieved April 30, 2022, from https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/learn/educator-center/programs/mie/
Oliver, B. (2019). Making micro-credentials work for learners, employers and providers. Deakin University. https://dteach.deakin.edu.au/wp-content/uploads/sites/103/2019/08/Making-micro-credentials-work-Oliver-Deakin-2019-full-report.pdf
Pappas, C. (2013, May 9). The adult learning theory – Andragogy – of Malcolm Knowles. eLearning Industry. https://elearningindustry.com/the-adult-learning-theory-andragogy-of-malcolm-knowles