In a world where we are increasingly encouraged to be "life long learners", it is common place for employees to continue to study and up-skill themselves during their employment. For teachers this is no different, as not only are they generally subject area experts with a need to be proficient in pedagogical principles, there are a myriad of other skills they must also keep across such as ICT!
To make this easier, Microsoft has recently revamped the Microsoft Certified Educator Exam (MCE) which enables educators to demonstrate that they are able to incorporate the 21st Century Learning Design (21st CLD) skills into learning activities using Microsoft tools for education. The core of this certification is based around the 21CLD and Innovative Teaching & Learning Research which provides a set of rubrics for educators to identify and implement learning opportunities for students to build 21st century skills.
The course and certification assesses a teachers ability to:
- Facilitate student collaboration
- Facilitate skilled communication
- Facilitate self-regulation
- Facilitate real-world problem solving and innovation
- Facilitate student use of Information and Communication Tools (ICT)
- Use ICT to be an effective educator
Resources To Prepare For The MCE Exam:
To assist schools and teachers to prepare for the exam, Microsoft have provided a number of easy to access resources such as:
- 21st Century Learning Design (21CLD) Online Course
- 21CLD OneNote - an indepth resource for teachers.
- MCE Study Guide
You will note that these sources are being delivered on the Microsoft Education Community site and offer up points and badges for completion of the courses. I've blogged about this previously explaining how schools can use this portal for professional development and measuring the progress / completion by teachers through the use of points and badges. This is now extended with teachers able to complete the MCE Exam and having great evidence of ongoing professional development and qualifications that could be used as reference material in future job applications and promotions.
Resources For Schools:
There are a number of resources available to promote the MCE programme to teachers:
- MCE Digital Kit - this includes the following:
- Full size classroom poster
- MCE Datasheet
- Exam Objectives
- Links to MCE website
- Costs and how to register for the exam
- More information from Certiport on assessment and course overview
My POV - Why This Matters:
Being a "life long learner" is a truism almost as tired as being a "collaborative learner" and yet both remain fundamental skills and attitudes sought after by employers. When talking about the skills that Microsoft NZ look for in employees when hiring, Public Sector Director Jeff Healey said:
I know that when we hire people at Microsoft they’re some of the skills: do they have those critical thinking skills? Can you work in a team? Are they open to making mistakes and learning from those mistakes? They’re some of the valuable things that we’re looking for as an employer.
In late November 2017 the Ministry of Education published a summary showing that in PISA's OECD 2015 study New Zealand students excelled at collaborative problem solving:
Historically considered soft skills, these are more and more being seen as essential by employers who are competing in a globally connected and technology savvy world... Students with collaborative problem solving skills and competencies will be well placed to take advantage of the many opportunities they will be faced with in an evolving work environment, and an increasingly global digital world.
It is precisely these skills that the Microsoft Certified Educator qualification looks to develop and assess, meaning those teachers who pass the examination can demonstrably prove their abilities in this area and their proficiency in effectively teaching with technology. To that end, I can see schools implementing staff-wide assessment of teachers in programmes such as this. Given the preparation is in micro-credentialed, self-paced and online courses through the Microsoft Education Community portal, teachers can prepare themselves thoroughly before the examination.
Reading the more in-depth review of the PISA testing is instructive for New Zealand educational leaders as well, with some of the key findings highlighted as:
- New Zealand students performed very well in the collaborative problem solving assessment (with a mean score of 533, well above the OECD average of 500). Only Singapore, Japan, and Hong Kong China had significantly higher average results.
- New Zealand had one of the largest proportions of students that scored at the highest level of collaborative problem solving proficiency (only Singapore had a higher proportion).
- New Zealand students perform better in collaborative problem solving than expected given their performance in science, reading, and mathematics in PISA 2015.
- Girls outperformed boys in collaborative problem solving across the OECD by 29 points, and in New Zealand this difference was particularly large (41 points).
- Once performance in science, reading and mathematics was taken into account, there were no significant differences between the scores for students identifying as one ethnic grouping compared with those who do not identify with that group (e.g., Pākehā/non-Pākehā). In contrast, the difference between girls and boys remains large after accounting for performance in the three core subjects.
Some very interesting results evidenced in terms of gender performance with girls out-performing boys in collaboration, echoing some of the other trends in NCEA assessment in NZ. Again, I encourage you to review the entire document here.