Issue 3 of the ET4TP Monthly is a slight departure from the normal format. Given the forthcoming SUNY New Paltz Faculty Senate vote on microcredentials on December 5, it seemed important to share news emerging from the edtech world (both K-12 and higher ed) on the subject.

Please take a look at the following resources at your convenience, and feel free to add more resources, questions, and comments below (see the “Write a Comment” button at the bottom of the post). This newsletter is meant to offer resources on both sides of the debate.

The primary debate regarding microcredential boils down to this:

  • PRO: students can learn at their own pace and on their own path, and can gather microcredentials to demonstrate skills in discreet, focused areas, particularly at a time when skills and knowledge are moving at a more rapid pace than ever before.
  • CON: there is lacking data demonstrating how seriously employers view prospective employees’ microcredentials; it seems like a fad that simply repackages already-existing degrees and credentials; it has the potential to reshape and even eradicate professional training programs (such as teacher education).

Continue reading and viewing to find out more. The following resources touch on a wide spectrum of perspectives on microcredentialing and badging.

What Does the Education Community Say?

Microcredentials: Teacher Learning Transformed by Microcredentials offer a new way for teachers to document their learning using work samples, videos, and other artifacts and have the potential to transform professional development. (Click here to read more of this article from Phi Delta Kappan.)

In Evolving World of Microcredentials, Students, Colleges and Employers Want Different Things by Jeffrey R. Young. Many colleges these days are experimenting with short-form online degrees to try to reach new audiences and offer new options, often at a lower cost. And new upstart providers are also getting into the mix, including coding bootcamps and startups like Udacity, which offers unaccredited nanodegrees. These trends raise a host of questions about the future of credentialing. (Click here to read more of this article from EdSurge).

Microcredentials Show What You Know by Dan Brown, Dwight E. Rhodes, and Deidra Gammill. Over the past decade, the concept of personalized student learning has taken center stage in discussions about educational improvement. Now it’s time to recognize that teachers need personalized learning, too. Whether they are aspiring educators or seasoned veterans, they need to know precisely where they stand on the path to real professional expertise so they can determine how best to move forward. (Click here to read more of this article from Phi Delta Kappan).

Netflixing Human Capital Development: Personalized Learning Technology and the Corporatization of K-12 Education by Heather Roberts-Mahoney, Alexander J. Means & Mark J. Garrison. Advanced by powerful venture philanthropies, educational technology companies, and the US Department of Education, a growing movement to apply ‘big data’ through ‘learning analytics’ to create ‘personalized learning’ is currently underway in K-12 education in the United States. While scholars have offered various critiques of the corporate school reform agenda, the role of personalized learning technology in the corporatization of public education has not been extensively examined. Through a content analysis of US Department of Education reports, personalized learning advocacy white papers, and published research monographs, this paper details how big data and adaptive learning systems are functioning to redefine educational policy, teaching, and learning in ways that transfer educational decisions from public school classrooms and teachers to private corporate spaces and authorities. The analysis shows that all three types of documents position education within a reductive set of economic rationalities that emphasize human capital development, the expansion of data-driven instruction and decision-making, and a narrow conception of learning as the acquisition of discrete skills and behavior modification detached from broader social contexts and culturally relevant forms of knowledge and inquiry. The paper concludes by drawing out the contradictions inherent to personalized learning technology and corporatization of schooling. It argues that these contradictions necessitate a broad rethinking of the value and purpose of new educational technology. (Click here to access this article from Journal of Education Policy.)

Should Learning = Earning?

This dramatized video, Learning is Earning, demonstrates the potential for microcredentials to eradicate professional training programs and institutions of education. Ultimately, the video argues that anyone can become a teacher, and that education can be commodified through something called the ledger, a digital degree-tracking mechanism based on a system of cryptocurrency and social impact investment. Microcredentials pave the way for this type of digital education ecosystem:

Bloomboard leads the teaching profession in the area of microcredentials: “Teachers are the most important driver of student growth and learning, yet studies show most professional development opportunities don’t meet their specific needs. Teachers want professional learning that is personalized, collaborative, and geared towards meaningful outcomes, while also empowering them to take control of their own growth and advancement.” (Click here to read more about Bloomboard’s take on the concept.)

There are many more pieces of information out there, including resources that have been shared across campus over the past months as colleagues have dug into the literature on the topic. Thank you to the Applied Learning Task Force on Microcredentials for initiating a discussion to that end! Let’s keep the conversation going as we decide whether or not (and how) we might adopt a microcredentialing approach here at SUNY New Paltz.

Stay tuned for a School of Education forum on microcredentialing in the Spring 2019 semester.