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January 14, 2021

Harnessing Micro-credentials for Teacher Growth

As part of its work with the digiLEARN-led NC Partnership for Micro-credentials, New America analyzed the national landscape of educator micro-credentials to determine how to best harness their potential to more successfully attract, develop, and retain great teachers. New America found micro-credentials to be a promising alternative to more traditional (and largely ineffective), compliance-focused teacher professional development, as well as an effective vehicle for defining and determining eligibility for some teacher roles. Whether micro-credentials will fulfill their promise will depend largely on the ability of education leaders to set an appropriately and consistently rigorous bar for quality in micro-credential offerings, as well as to ensure sufficient and appropriate implementation processes and supports outside of the micro-credential offerings themselves.

To aid in these efforts, North America summarize early best practices for ensuring quality micro-credential offerings as well as lessons learned about the necessary conditions for teachers to succeed with micro-credentials. As an added resource, New America has built a companion State Policy Guide with recommendations for policymakers looking to integrate micro-credentials into their educator professional development, license renewal, and advancement systems.

January 7, 2021

NC Feasibility Study Report to the North Carolina Partnership for Micro-Credentials

The NC Partnership for Micro-Credentials—led by digiLEARN in partnership with New America and RTI International—commissioned RTI International to conduct a feasibility study of their mission, vision and goals given the state’s context and current system for teacher professional learning. RTI interviewed 43 individuals representing various sectors of NC’s public education system, reviewed documents and websites, and integrated findings from NC focus groups and the national scan conducted by New America.

A summary of findings from the report:

  • The NC public school system serves a diverse set of communities, a high proportion of which are low-wealth and/ or rural.
  • Interviews and focus groups indicate an appetite for microcredentials for teacher professional learning.
  • Data also revealed reservations about integrating micro-credentials into teacher professional learning.
  • NC has multiple efforts focused on the use of micro-credentials for teacher professional learning from which the NC Partnership for Micro-credentials could learn.
  • Findings from this study highlight several critical practice, policy, and funding shifts for NC to help ensure effective implementation of micro-credentials.
  • Study findings suggest measures for rolling out a statewide system of MCs for professional learning:
    • Start with WHY.
    • Ensure a clear implementation plan.
    • Tie to existing priorities.
    • Align with SBE’s 8-year plan.
    • Align with COVID-19 needs.
    • Pilot test and externally evaluate. 

August 2019

2019 Digital Scholars Initiative Report

The Digital Scholars Program launched in January 2018 with Rowan-Salisbury Schools (RSS) in southwestern North Carolina. Three scholars—one each in high school, middle school and elementary school—participated in year one. This past year, RSS expanded the initiative to include two additional scholars. Through additional funding support, the program also expanded to Durham Public Schools. RSS teachers helped initiate the program with two Durham Scholars—one in elementary school, and one in high school.

The Friday Institute at North Carolina State University partnered with digiLEARN from September 2018 through June 2019 to evaluate the program’s second year. We are excited about the initial findings, which show that:

  • Digital Scholars received valuable professional learning opportunities, shared their knowledge more and gained greater awareness of and confidence in their role as teacher leaders.
  • Learning Labs continue to be a promising strategy for sharing digital and personalized learninginstructional practices.
  • Visiting Learning Labs has inspired and helped teachers in each district to expand their understanding of digital technology in the classroom and gave them concrete examples of how to implement it.
  • Students' participation, communication and enjoyment of the learning process have all increased, and their academic performance is increasing.

August 2018

2018 Digital Scholars Initiative Report

The Digital Scholars Initiative launched its pilot year of the program at Rowan-Salisbury Schools in the southwestern region of North Carolina. District leadership identified three teachers to be the first cohort because of their expertise in digital and personalized learning.

Throughout the year, staff from digiLEARN and program partner Getting Smart worked with the cohort and the district to establish a professional learning community among the three teachers, provide personalized professional development for each Scholar, and offer planning and administrative support to facilitate Learning Lab classroom visits of each Scholar’s classroom. Learning Labs allowed teachers from throughout the district to observe instruction in a Scholar’s classroom and receive coaching from the Scholar afterward.

From March through August, The Friday Institute at North Carolina State University partnered with digiLEARN to evaluate of the program’s pilot year. We are excited about our initial findings, which show that:

  • Our Rowan-Salisbury Digital Scholars are master teachers that have a deep understanding of and highly advanced skills for using digital and personalized instructional strategies that lead to improved outcomes for students.
  • Learning Labs are a promising strategy for spreading effective digital and personalized learning instructional practices.
  • Teachers who visit Learning Labs gain useful knowledge, instructional ideas and inspiration, along with in-depth support from Scholars to implement new instructional strategies in their own classrooms.

Click on the link to the full report for more outcomes from our pilot year.

April 2018

Personalized Learning in a Digital World: Four Key Priorities for Digital and Personalized Learning

With the help of technology, teachers and schools across the country can transform their classrooms into collaborative learning spaces where teachers help students drive their own learning and better prepare for college and careers. This brief is a guide for teachers and schools to learn best practices on incorporating technology and data into personalized learning. It stems from a May 2017 meeting of educators and policy makers from across the South cohosted by digiLEARN and the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) and features case studies from across the country that highlight key strategies teachers and administrators can use to bring education into the digital age.

July 2017

Strategic Policy Playbook: Driving Innovation in Education for All Students

digiLEARN released the Strategic Policy Playbook: Driving Innovation in Education for All Students to highlight the State of North Carolina's successful policy initiative to ensure equity in educational opportunity across the state. As a result of this process, any student, regardless of his/her address or economic circumstances could access the same academic courses, materials, and highly qualified teachers as any other student in the state. This policy brief, prepared by entangled.solutions and through generous support from the Carnegie Foundation of New York describes North Carolina's successful effort to effect lasting change in education policy. It provides a primer to be used by other states and localities seeking to affect similar lasting change in education policy or in any other policy sector.

Access the Playbook and Presentation here.