Cognition Connection

Micro-Credentials and BrainPOP

Posted by Andrew Gardner on

Andrew Gardner, our VP of Professional Learning, shares his insights on micro-credentialing.

Recently, I had the privilege of participating in a panel at Badge Summit – along with Robert Bajor from Digital Promise, Rich Dixon from Buck Institute, Barbara Bray from ReThinking Learning, and Cate Tolnai from Santa Clara Board of Education – to discuss “The What, How, and Why of Micro-Credentials.” Though not a direct provider of micro-credentials, BrainPOP does offer a certification program, and our resources can be used in a number of ways to earn “MCs” from other issuers.  I thought it might be helpful to delve into this a little further and address  the value of BrainPOP in the current MC eco-system.

What Exactly is a Micro-Credential?  

Micro-credentials recognize single skills or competencies regardless of where or when the learning takes place. They often take the form of badges: the same way a Boy Scout might earn a badge for learning to make a fire or tie a knot, educators might earn them for things like assessment design and virtual community organizing. Educators can then display their “badges” to represent what they’ve mastered.  

Who Issues and Recognizes Micro-Credentials?

A variety of organizations issue and recognize MCs as a legitimate representation of learning. One leader in the movement is Digital Promise, which has worked to create protocols for MC development and issuing processes. Essentially, they serve as Good Housekeeping and its “Seal of Approval.” Many universities, non-profits, and advocacy groups are also developing MCs based on the processes Digital Promise has outlined.  States such as Texas and Illinois are now accepting certain educational MCs as professional development credits, or CEUs.

Why Micro-Credentials?

MCs let professional represent their skills more clearly. Unlike a degree – which indicates competency in a broad discipline – badges show mastery of specific skills, verified by the organization that developed and issued the MC. The credentials are based on work evaluated by a human – not an algorithm – and can be difficult to earn, which gives them added meaning and value.

How does an educator earn a Micro-credential?  

To earn an MC, educators must produce evidence that demonstrates their competency or skill, then submit it to the issuing organization for review. If the issuing organization determines that the submitter has met its criteria, the micro-credential will be issued. There are many places where that MC may “live,” but it’s typically awarded via the “open badge” platform developed and maintained by Mozilla,  IMS Global and LRNG. The credential is then essentially stored in a “digital backpack.”  The open platform allows MCs to appear in multiple contexts.

What Does BrainPOP Have to do with Badges and Micro-Credentials?

Teachers may earn a badge through our certification program, in which participants must demonstrate competency using BrainPOP’s content, features, and tools in pedagogically sound ways.  Candidates complete course work and produce a series of projects that show they’re successfully able to use and implement our tools, and a solid understanding of the learning objectives. Currently, the certification badge isn’t part of the open platform, but can be used in an email signature and on social profiles. Learn more about our certification program and its other benefits!

With BrainPOP in your educator toolkit, you can use our content, features, and tools as you work to earn MCs issued by other organizations. For example: you might have students create concept maps made with Make-a-Map for Digital Promise’s Mapping Facts or Mapping Concepts MCs. Our playful assessment games collect data you can use to develop data-driven reteaching groups, the topic of a micro-credential issued by Relay Graduate School of Education. Check out this Pinterest board for additional examples of how to use BrainPOP for micro-credentials – including those earned through the professional development provider Bloomboard.

Have you used BrainPOP to earn a micro-credential?  We’d love to hear about it in the comments!