So at the end of the Fall 2016 semester I earned my Apple Teacher certification for 2016 in iPad, Mac and Swift Playground… I also required my students to get their Apple teacher badges for iPad and encouraged them to grab more..
I will be honest, when Apple Teacher first came out, I was skeptical. I thought not another badging certification. I see many people talk about being Google Certified but they know the clicks, but not the pedagogy behind it. I worried that it would weaken the distinction and all the steps that I went though to be an Apple Distinguished Educator but Apple Teacher actually changed my mind about badging in education, especially Ed Tech preservice teacher education and I want to share my experiences to tell you why.
My Skepticism of Badging
So let me give you a quick history. My Dean has been encouraging me to think about badging and credentialing for a few years now. It was not terribly easy to do (but @Badgelist has really changed that) and I thought it was kind of insulting. would you expect a theories of education class to badge? then why an ed tech class? I talked several times to Rick West at BYU about it.. but still did not see its value – and had plenty of other work on my plate.
Then in Fall 2016, Apple Released Apple Teacher and I started to see the usefulness of it in a few ways.
1) It was free (a major plus for education)
2) It helped us to document what our students were learning in a transferable way to the real world..(ie.. Administrators got it) and we could help build student resume and portfolios.
3) It linked students to resources available throughout their device- and helped them to be lifelong learners and identify resources they could use in their future careers.
4) To my surprise the questions were both technical and pedagogical. It talked about how but also why you would use tools. In introducing it to teachers and students, it facilitated important pedagogical conversations about using technology for teaching.
So I investigated it further in a few ways..
1) I had one student do all the Apple Teacher certificates as a makeup assignment. I asked him to review the process, keep track of his time, and tell me what he thought of it.. (This is an important step in that I am pretty knowledgeable on the tools and my time would not equal student time to complete) . He talked about how he had to use the books for some tasks and found himself jumping between devices to test out tools and find the solution.
2). I started taking a few tests myself.
3) I required students to do at least the iPad test after I found out how much time it took (less than 2 hours for each test even if they were unfamiliar with that app to begin).
4) I watched on social media as #AppleTeacher gained momentum – and I saw how people were excited to share the credential and how many schools were starting to use it as a personal or building-wide PD goal for teachers.
So what did I find out..
- the Apple Teacher questions lead us to a great conversation about assessment in class. . How can you assess skills with objective tests? How do you support students in taking such a test? How can 5 questions assess a complex skill. Great teachable moments for future teachers.
- I failed GarageBand in front of my students – Yes humility is good.. and no I was not cheating the questions are randomized and they got different ones.. But it sure made the task more accessible to everyone.
- My students felt like they were walking away with something. One student said – It was great to see what I had really learned and how easy it was to complete. They liked that it transferred directly to their resume.
- Several students went to take on more tests because they could. I saw several students change their Twitter profile to reflect their accomplishment.
So I want to encourage my preservice teacher education educational technology colleagues to consider doing Apple Teacher with their students as a way to document their technology skills and to add to their portfolios and resumes. You might ask, why I am not making the same endorsement of Google Certified Educator – it costs money – and I will mention it, but really can’t compel students to pay. It is less convenient and the time turn around to pass it, does not work as well with the traditional semester. Also philosophically my goal is always to introduce to students what they can do, give them a taste, and information to go further. I view that test as an extension to the beginning activity. My goal as a teacher educator is to get them to value credentialing and badging and then make it their own.
Why it Matters:
I believe that this kind of badge based credentialing offers the first step in meeting the call to Action by the Department of Education for Teacher Education. (See page 16 of their report from http://tech.ed.gov/files/2016/12/Ed-Tech-in-Teacher-Preparation-Brief.pdf Excerpted here:
This Badging and credentialing is the future of teacher education and this is an easy and free way to engage your students in it today for technology skills.
So how has this changed my view of on Badging?
The students liked it, and I realized that many of my assignments, I want students to do, but the paper they have to write is not the goal of the assignment. I just want them to do it. In the end the Essay ends up being a collection of disingenuous statements – (I am so thankful that Dr. Cullen made me participate in a twitter chat, now I know i will be a great technology using teacher).
So this Spring, I am going to give badging some technology skills a try. What am I finding so far.. Badgelist seems easy to use, and I am actually going to increase what I ask students to do. I will be asking them to show more evidence of the activities (screenshots, selfies, videos) and will be able to ask them do more skills. I will be cutting down on the disingenuous essays but increasing the public sharing of their work..
So spring 17 is my test, but I probably would not have tried going to badging had I not seen the positive reaction of my students to Apple Teacher..
Wish me luck!