How Micro-Credentialing is Helping Teachers – A Look Through the Lens of the Refugee Educator Academy


How Micro-Credentialing is Helping Teachers – A
Look Through the Lens of the Refugee Educator

No matter our relationship to the education system in the United States, most of us are familiar with teacher in-service days. School is closed, students are off for the day and teachers attend one-off professional development seminars which have been designed and mandated by their school district. 

However, research shows that this one-size-fits-all approach to professional development has produced mixed results. As the availability and sophistication of online learning has increased, so has the ability of educators to access training that is specific to their professional development needs. School districts and workplaces across the country are embracing micro-credentialing as a way to improve professional development outcomes and better serve both teachers and students.

Micro-credentials (and the accompanying digital badges) are a digital form of certification indicating demonstrated competency/mastery in a specific skill or set of skills. To earn micro-credentials, educators identify competencies they want to master and complete the requirements to earn them. They can be issued for formal and informal professional learning experiences that support educators developing skills and acquiring knowledge to improve professional practice that supports student success. Educators identify a competency they want to develop, submit evidence that they have mastered the competency and receive a digital badge once the evidence is approved.

Micro-credentialing is just one of the tools that the Carey Institute’s Center for Learning in Practice is leveraging to increase the number and accelerate the preparation of qualified refugee educators in the United States and around the world. The Refugee Educator Academy, the flagship program of the Center for Learning in Practice was created in response to a well-documented issue. More than 65 million people are displaced from their homes worldwide. Over half are children and young people who find their educations and social development disrupted, posing an immediate threat to their well-being and health. Compounding the problem is the lack of qualified refugee educators and service providers worldwide. Refugee educators, whether they are working in a New York City public school or a refugee camp in Amman, Jordan, can log onto from any device with an internet connection. From there they can choose both micro and longer-term courses as well as webinars and open content on topics such as Trauma-Informed Approaches in Refugee Education, Cultural Proficiency and Culturally Sustaining Pedagogy in Refugee Education and Sustainable Learning Design for Refugee Educators. 

In partnership with Digital Promise, which has developed an ecosystem of micro-credentials, the Center for Learning in Practice and its Refugee Educator Academy currently offer five micro-credentials, designed to highlight the competencies and commitment of classroom teachers, teacher educators and program designers working with students of refugee backgrounds. Digital Promise is an independent, bipartisan nonprofit, authorized by Congress in 2008 as the National Center for Research in Advanced Information and Digital Technologies. Since 2013 it has grown steadily toward its current role as creator and steward of an ecosystem including more than 40 active issuing organizations and institutions and over 400 published micro-credentials. 

In July, the Refugee Educator Foundations of Practice pilot course, underwritten by an international foundation, will launch. A community of 110 educators in the states of Arizona, New York and Washington will join this inaugural pilot cohort. The cohort will participate in a 12-week online course that includes customized content, structured dialog with others in the cohort, the support of a facilitator/coach and a community of practice over the 2019-2020 school year. The participants will earn state-approved professional development hours as well as a certificate issued by the Center for Learning in Practice at the Carey Institute for Global Good. They can also earn micro-credentials and digital badges from our Refugee Educator micro-credential stack on Digital Promise and build an e-portfolio to showcase their expertise as a refugee educator.  

Watch a brief video introduction to the project here and see how the Center Practice and its Refugee Educator Academy honors educators and their professional learning. 

Refugee Educator Foundations of Practice Introductory Video

The Center for Learning in Practice seeks to improve professional learning and knowledge sharing in and across civil society organizations through sustainable-learning programming, research and services. Its Refugee Educator Academy strives to increase the number and accelerate the preparation of qualified refugee educators and service providers in the United States and around the world.    The Carey Institute for Global Good is a not-for-profit organization founded in 2012 by Wm. Polk Carey and is dedicated to building a strong, educated and just society. We provide education, tools and resources to practitioners of the global good to help them succeed. We put practitioners first — teachers, journalists, farmers — because we know that they have the power to change their communities and inspire others to do the same.