Technological, demographic and socio-economic changes are transforming industry and creating a continual demand for new skills from tomorrow’s workforce. Educators, businesses and governments are creating programs and credentials designed to answer those needs.
For Jennifer Vandiver, a secondary science teacher at Collinwood High School in Wayne County, Tennessee, personalized learning is important for the development of educators and the students they teach.
“In many districts, teachers are provided the same professional development regardless of their subject area, grade level or personal goals,” Vandiver wrote in a blog for Digital Promise, a US nonprofit organization whose mission is to improve learning opportunities through technology and research. “The irony of this is that many of us educators have been successfully navigating the waters of personalized learning for our students, but haven’t been given the opportunity to transition that same approach to our own professional learning.”
Micro-credentials – short, focused, certified courses to develop individual skills – provided a path for Vandiver to achieve personalized learning. Having searched online for professional development opportunities, she joined the Tennessee Department of Education’s Micro-credential Pilot Program.
Micro-credentials provide an answer to the need for rapid reskilling, certified by digital badges that embed evidence of the skills each individual has mastered.
“Micro-credentials provide students with ways to learn, and to keep learning while they go out and apply what they’ve learned,” said Cali Morrison, assistant dean of the School of Continuing and Professional Studies at American Public University System (APUS). “Technology gives us the opportunity to tie evidence to the micro-credential, so employers can see what the students did to earn it. As a result, learners feel the micro-credential makes them more marketable, and we are seeing growing acceptance of these sub-degree credentials among employers.”
Micro-credentials play a key role in enabling workers to build stacks of skills that meet the changing needs of industry. Businesses and educators are embracing this flexible and focused learning. As momentum builds, more widespread recognition is sure to follow.
“We need recognition that there is value in all types of post-secondary education, whether it’s vocational, academic or practical,” Morrison said. “Stackable credentials are what’s next. They will reduce the traditional dependence on credit hours, enabling learning in smaller chunks that can add up to something much bigger.”
Editor’s Note: This is an excerpt from an article written by Jacqui Griffiths that first appeared in Dassault Systemes’ Compass Magazine. To read the entire article, click here.