The best qualifications

I guess Lisa Noble was getting caught up on her blog reading over the weekend.  In two successive messages, I read:

and later

It was the second message that really made me happy and got personal.

One of the things that you don’t necessarily see are the comments that you get when you share a Google resource or a Microsoft resource or a something else resource.  The “fan-people” from opposing technologies’ camps sometimes leap in with some nasty stuff.

But, Doug, aren’t you a certified distinguished exemplary expert whatsit?

The answer is “partially”.  A few years back, my superintendent had me take a certification course from a vendor to see if it would fit into our district’s plans.  It was fun to meet the new people and certainly the online connections have persisted.

But there were a few things that nagged me and the superintendent when we met to go over the course materials in our debrief.

  • it wasn’t necessarily required but we were encouraged to take issue when someone talks about a competing technology and show how it could be done with the one we’d explored in the course
  • the course was full of really neat features (the geeky me actually enjoyed that) but other than showing them off, you’d probably never use them in a real classroom
  • the focus was on the technology and any curriculum connections were only mentioned in passing
  • in our debrief, we focussed on the fact that we weren’t a training facility and to focus on one technology at the expense of all others was a real disservice to teachers and students
  • and probably a whole bunch of other things

The bottom line was that we thought it would ultimately be a limiting factor for education if it was only about the technology and only about that technology.  So, we passed on going any further and reverted to in-house sessions that focused on a wide variety of things, mostly district purchased, Ministry of Education licensed or freely available, and always starting and ending with the curriculum.  The driving force was to help teachers/students pick the best available tool to address the curriculum.  We thought at the time, and I still do, that this was the very best and responsible approach.

So, when Lisa used the expression “equal opportunity”, I felt really good.

But what’s a district to do?  Certainly, we in education like our credentials.  Who hasn’t gone to the OCT site and searched for a teacher to see his/her qualifications?

There is another route and I would suggest it’s of the best value.  The Scouting movement has known it for years.  I’ve mentioned it here on this blog a few times.  It’s the concept of badging.  With a couple of current educational events recently, Doug Belshaw has shared some of his thoughts about it.

I’d encourage you to take a few minutes and explore these links and wonder – “why aren’t we doing this in my district?”  After all, when you apply for a new position, you bring your portfolio with you and share your learning with a new principal or superintendent.  The parents of your students have no idea what you’ve done and what you could do.  Wouldn’t an accumulation of badges on your blog or wiki be helpful?

A comprehensive badging program wouldn’t be limited to just technology either.  Think of all the learning opportunities that could be celebrated in this manner.

After all, the badging system would be based on what’s important locally instead of for a big corporation?  There may well still be a desire to learn more.

Certainly the other option might serve to enhance but isn’t learning that’s consistent with the local goals and aspirations the best and most important qualifications?

2 thoughts on “The best qualifications

  1. I have to admit I get a “warm fuzzy” when I trigger a thoughtful post like this. I was catching up on reading/proofreading this weekend after spending a chunk of unplugged time at camp with my students last week. I also really appreciated your posts because my board has chosen to offer its staff and students both the O365 suite and the Google suite of tools. It implemented one, but found that many teachers had already chosen to use the other, and decided to figure out a way to let us have the choice. Badging, I think, makes a lot of sense in this environment – and I’d love to have parents be able to quickly see what I’d been learning about!

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  2. I like the idea that your district offers both opportunities. I wonder how many teachers use both, depending upon the task. Or, is it just a matter of being more familiar with one than the other.

    I really like the concept of badging; it seems to me that it can be more agile to meet the changing needs of education. I know that there are AQ courses but they’re really one shot deals. Once you have it on your record, it never goes away so it’s not really an indication that the person is on top of their game. A consistent path of learning through badging makes more sense to me.

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