These days, it seems that everywhere you look private companies are putting their stamp on a teacher’s ability to effectively deliver curriculum using their platform. There’s the Apple Teacher program, you can become a Google Certified Educator, and even BrainPOP will “certify” you as a teacher. Although one might argue that we, as educators, should be giving our approval as to whether or not their systems are useful in the learning journey of our students, some of these programs do offer free, comprehensive professional learning opportunities.
After Microsoft Office 365 (o365) was adopted at SIS for its collaborative platform and unrestricted access within China, it was the Learning Innovation Team’s job to help with the transition to this platform as a viable option for students, teachers, and parents to engage with transformative practice. To this end, the LI team began exploring what Microsoft offers in terms of their certification process.
As I recently perused the Microsoft Education Community resource site, I found it to be much more in depth, both in terms of resources as well as pedagogical exploration, than its counterparts. First off, it was far less about learning the tools (although there are courses that deal directly with learning how to use tools found within o365) and much more about how you might effectively use these tools to enhance student learning. Secondly, you are able to follow multiple different paths to achieve becoming badged as a Microsoft Innovative Educator (MIE). This includes taking individual stand-alone classes or working through Microsoft-designed Learning Pathways that combine these individual classes to lead you to mastery on a given topic.
What this means for educators is that Microsoft allows you to individualize what you do to gain points in their system. By gaining 1000 points with any combination, you will receive an MIE badge. Other courses and pathways also gain your badges and certificates within Microsoft’s imaginative digital badging for educators.
I started by just taking a few individual classes and really found the Skype Collaboration class extremely useful. It is quite amazing how you can bring experts from around the world into your classroom, give students exposure to different cultures and multiple perspectives. Skype also allows you to act as an expert for Skype in the Classroom.
In then end, it really isn’t about gaining some certificate or digital badge. It’s not about being able to say you are an #MIEexpert. It really boils down to learning how to create the best digital learning environment for your students with the tools you have at your disposal. Having experienced the education community of multiple online platforms, I will say that the Microsoft Education Community seems to be the most comprehensive community, with basic tutorials on specific tools, to sharing great lesson plans, to actual pedagogical conversations. If you have any interest in exploring some free online PL on effectively using technology in your classroom, become a Skype guest speaker, beef up on your Microsoft product skills, or start your journey to becoming an MIE, sign into the Microsoft Educator Community and start diving in. If you would like help in getting started, please feel free to come see us at the genius bar on either campus.