Micro-credentials: learning more about your future
Spring has come early at the New Teacher Center and United Educators of Greater Chicago (UEGC). Staffed with professionals ready to offer micro-credentials, an intimate club of educators is now offering new perspectives and support to teachers – including, in this case, for the first time, personalized assessments and career planning tools. The application of workforce analytics to teaching is generating interest among UEGC members, and the models they are choosing to integrate can potentially change the career path for many teachers.
UEGC’s J.P. Lindsay-Hertzstaffiate National Center for Career and Professional Development is quickly becoming a leading collegiate presence in micro-credentials and career planning, with stakes that may run into the millions. A recent update to the staff-based charter school grants program brings state-of-the-art career planning and assessments – available via web, interactive whiteboards and iPads – to the center.
With micro-credentials becoming increasingly prevalent, as more teachers begin to build their career skills, UEGC is bringing micro-credentials to a much larger audience. The center has granted more than 60 micro-credentials over the past year, including those for academic, professional development, and achievement writing (long term, new Professional Development Professional). It has recently started offering access to the J.P. Lindsay Center for Academic Excellence, the new career-building initiative. The micro-credentials fulfill professional development promises when paired with career plans that allow teachers to project their futures into the future.
“These micro-credentials often allow teachers to fulfill what used to be called future planning – it’s something other schools start with very young teachers,” says Amy Winkler, research and technology manager for the center. “The micro-credentials are a novel way to give them even more opportunities to build their career and work toward their professional expectations.”
When micro-credentials become mainstream, this should affect not only the individual careers of teachers, but also the job at which they work. And, given the expected demographics for the United States, this could change the nature of the job and address educational disparities. Other emerging ideas from UEGC’s Career & Innovation Institute give teachers an opportunity to find the careers they are best suited for. The center offers free career planning services, and is a founding partner of Chicago Career Journeys, a regional career resource shared by over 40 Chicagoland schools and universities.
“The UEGC members we’re working with have broad search-for-career skills and see micro-credentials as a gateway to a lot of potential – whether they work with children, adults, or in other areas,” says Winkler. “The Career and Innovation Institute is a great place to learn about these programs, and connecting with the experts at J.P. Lindsay takes the guesswork out of career choices.”
“I see the career development workshops we’re providing as a way for educators to get a better sense of the kind of future they’re ready for,” says Robert Miller, counselor and center executive director. “For starters, they are providing the information they need to make important life choices.”
The benefits of micro-credentials extend beyond career training for educators, though. According to Winkler, those two million job openings nationally translate into another million jobs nationwide. Those jobs would open opportunities for people who hold a certificate, but need a clearer set of skills to be hired by a larger business.
UEGC’s career center members include educators, credential professional development professionals, administrators, educational leaders, program coordinators, and other professionals who work in the field of education. All need the right information in order to design a path forward.
“Looking at the data, we’re seeing that a great many opportunities open up over the next few years,” says Winkler. “We hope this information will help inspire teachers to take a course, a test, or work towards a credential so they can better understand what is happening in education at a macro level.”
In the coming months, Winkler and her staff will continue to add to the knowledge they provide to teachers.
“It’s at the door step of every student in America.”