Mike Broadstock talks with DeakinCo CEO Glenn Campbell and ISV Innovation and Learning Leader Deb Carmichael about Microcredentials – Digital Badges – and how they are giving educators a new way of demonstrating what they have learned.
Note: isPodcast is produced for listening and is designed to be heard. We encourage you to listen to the audio, as it includes emotion and emphasis that’s not on the page. While every care is taken, our transcripts may contain errors.
Like our schools, Independent Schools Victoria is always looking for new ways to help our learners thrive in a complex and changing world. Along with schools, that means embracing new ways of delivering content and assessing what’s been learned. You may have heard of one of the more exciting of these approaches, microcredentials – or digital badging. ISV has partnered with DeakinCo to offer them to educators.
Mike Broadstock finds out more.
Microcredentials. The Australian Financial Review calls them a ‘revolution in the way education is created, delivered and consumed’. ISV, which has been keen to offer them for some time, has partnered with DeakinCO, to provide them to educators looking to broaden their skills. But what makes them so special?
I asked DeakinCo CEO Glenn Campbell about the different types of microcredentials, and what their advantages are when it comes to professional learning.
Microcredentials are a smaller and shorter means of demonstrating learning and capability than what you get from traditional degrees, and they focus in on more specific types of skills.
When we look at microcredentials, there are probably four elements or aspects that make up a good microcredential. There's the learning achievement, and I'll come back to that in a minute. There's an assessment, there's a framework or set of standards that sit behind it, and there's an outcome to the credential. And that's quite often a standalone value to that microcredential.
When I talked about the learning achievement, I said there were two types. In the marketplace, we actually have knowledge acquisition microcredentials. So, in other words, these are taught. These are best for learning new skills. And then we have learning application microcredentials, or experiential credentials, that are best for recognising capability, and also recognising that we learn in a whole variety of different places.
When it comes to the advantages of microcredentials, we get them as a ‘just in time’ or faster delivery approach. There's also a focused measurement with clear skill achievement, and the other thing, which is really important that doesn't get touched on quite a lot, is that we see improved motivation and confidence in individuals that do microcredentials, because you're getting that immediate recognition of achievement, compared to the traditional forms of learning.
Glenn says that one of the advantages a microcredential has over, say, a short course, is how it is recognized.
So, in a short course, you might get a certificate, its paper-based or a PDF, whereas with microcredentials, it's more common to get a digital badge, and this is the advantage of the microcredential over the short course, because that digital badge you can use on your email signatures, you can put them on your LinkedIn profile.
They're searchable, they have metadata that sits behind them, so it's not just what sits on the front of that certificate. You can see the details behind on what you've achieved, and there's improved employment outcomes.
So LinkedIn, a few years ago, did a survey of employment outcomes of people that applied for jobs that had a digital badge on their profile, to those that didn't have one. Those that had digital badges were seven times more likely to be shortlisted for a job than those that didn't. So that's a huge difference when it comes to the physical part of the microcredential being the digital badge.
ISV is offering Deakin Professional Practice Credentials to educators and school leaders at our Member Schools. Deb Carmichael, an Innovation and Learning Leader at ISV, enjoyed the chance to earn a microcredential herself.
So, as part of our assessor training we were able to pursue a Deakin microcredential and I chose communication. And what I really loved about it was when you're busy working and involved in lots of new initiatives, you don't often take the time to just stop and reflect and think about what you learned. So, it gave me that great opportunity to think about what new skills had I developed as I was working. It was also really well supported: the Deakin material – the guides – were fantastic. The portal was really easy to use, and it just made it a very smooth process.
The fact that microcredentials can be earned online means that you can work through the process when it's convenient and where it's convenient for you. So, it's really suitable for school staff in that way. The process is well supported through Deakin with their guides and through their portal, and also by us at ISV because we understand the work that goes on in Independent schools. And we really saw this as a great opportunity to value the work that people are doing in our Member Schools and giving them the opportunity to have that formally recognised.
Glenn says that the assessment process is more like an online job interview than a traditional exam, and candidates get guidebooks with a clear outline of the key criteria.
There's three steps for you as the candidate. The first is to answer a set of reflective questions. So, let's say we're assessing you on critical thinking. We are going to be asking you a set of questions about your understanding of critical thinking.
The second part is the submission of evidence. We'll need you to upload at least two types of evidence that demonstrates, in this instance, your critical thinking.
The third part is an interview. Now it's an asynchronous interview, so there's no one on the other end of the camera. For those that have been in job interviews, probably in the last two years, you might have already seen one like this. You'll get to answer a set of randomised questions. Then we get to the assessment stage.
Educators undertaking microcredentials are then evaluated by a Deakin staff member and an ISV staff member who understands the school context, and the skills developed through school initiatives. Glenn says the feedback from learners has been positive.
We're certainly seeing increased motivation amongst people that complete credentials, also increased morale, and increased confidence, self-confidence in their own ability. And the final one that we've actually seen is a re-engagement in learning. Because we've taken a very different approach to the way we do the credentials, what we are seeing is that people are experiencing a learning environment that's very different to what they've ever experienced before, and that's encouraging them to go on and do a second credential or a third, or even re-look at what contemporary study looks like.
ISV is offering a special price so that educators and school leaders at Member Schools can be formally recognized for all the different types of learning that happens in their workplace.
Educators are always learning, whether it's through formal courses or through opportunities that they're given to lead something, to develop initiatives, or to run projects within their schools. We're offering microcredentials in four areas, teamwork, communication, self-management, and leading and developing people.
So, you might be contributing to a network or you might have a primary role in a project within your school. You might be coaching or mentoring others or doing a presentation at a conference. And these skills are outside of what you might do in a classroom or perhaps in your regular work in schools, but there's still capabilities that you are developing on the job.
Each of the practice credentials that we offer has its own set of criteria. So, once you decide which credential you think you'd like to pursue, it's a matter of choosing two examples of how you are demonstrating those skills, writing some reflective testimony, and then submitting that online.
Once you've completed that stage, then you do the online interview that Glenn spoke about and your submission is then assessed by our Deakin representative and an ISV staff member.
ISV also has its own digital badge program through Credly. And so, we recognise the learning that participants from Member Schools do in programs with us. We badge our flagship programs like Principals Leadership Academy, Project Wayfinder, Teacher Inquiry Groups, where there's some extended learning that takes place. It's been really great to see people earning those badges through us and displaying them proudly on their LinkedIn profiles and other social media platforms.
Deb says educators who have received a microcredential through ISV have had good things to say.
Some of the feedback that we had is that it's been valuable to be able to reflect on the process and on the work that they've done and to be able to see just what skills they've developed. We've also heard that the process has been very easy and smooth to follow. So, they were able to undertake that in a reasonable amount of time.
ISV is offering a free briefing webinar so school staff can learn a bit more about the process. That's on Monday, the 2nd of May, from 4:00 to 4:45 PM, and you can register at learn.iseducation.com.au. I’ll put a link to that in the show description.
isPodcast is brought to you by Independent Schools Victoria. It's produced and recorded by Duncan McLean and presented by Michael Broadstock, Natalie Moutafis, and me, Shane Green. Our podcast theme was composed and performed by Duncan. You can find transcripts of our shows with links to what we've discussed at podcast.iseducation.com.au.
And remember, you can subscribe to isPodcast on your favourite podcast app, where you can also rate or review the show, helping others to join our listener community.