Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert (MIEE): Is it worth all the hard work?

This blog features contributions from the LTC’s Lisa Schwartz and Holly Kelly

Earning new badges, certifications, and micro-credentials can do wonders for your professional career. Not only do they bolster your career prospects, but they also offer you an opportunity to step out of your comfort zone and grow your capacity as an educator. They also offer an opportunity to practice patience, discipline, and dedication as you work through the application process and put what you’ve learned into practice in the classroom.

While there are a lot of self-paced certification options out there, one that many educators overlook is the Mircrosoft Innovative Educator Expert (MIEE) certification. That’s a shame because the program is tailor-made to help educators learn, grow, and connect alongside a community of like-minded professionals, regardless of what platform or apps their district utilizes.

After recently completing our own MIEE journey, we’ve repeatedly been asked the same question – is this Microsoft-centered certification worth it? Again and again, we’ve had the same answer: yes! Even if your school primarily uses Google or Apple products, MIEE has a lot to offer you as a growth-focused educator.

Here are 8 quick reasons you should consider earning an MIEE certification:

8 Reasons You Should Earn MIEE

  1. Grow your professional skill set – MIEE isn’t a Microsoft beginners course. Through it, you’ll learn next-level methods for utilizing Microsoft apps to engage today’s learners.
  2. Challenge yourself – Everyday, we ask our students to challenge themselves so that they can grow intellectually and emotionally. We should do the same for ourselves, and MIEE’s multi-step certification process is a great way to step out of that comfort zone.
  3. Build mentorship capacity – You aren’t the only one who benefits from MIEE. Your fellow teachers can learn a lot from you when you share what you learn during the certification process.
  4. Grow your network – While working toward MIEE, you’ll have the chance to connect with fellow educators from all across the country. Even after completing your certification, you can turn to those connections for advice and support as you work through the latest educational challenge.
  5. Bolster your resume – No matter your career goals, a recognized certification like MIEE can be a major boon to your future prospects. It can even help you advance your career in your current position, including through promotions and new leadership opportunities.
  6. Maintain your learning mindset – After teaching for a few years, educators sometimes get comfortable with their present edtech utilization. MIEE can rekindle your old learning mindset and show you how much potential some of today’s most versatile apps offer.
  7. Access exclusive offers – MIEE status comes with added perks, including access to special offers for partner platforms like Book Creator and Buncee
  8. Attend MIEE annual summit – All MIE Experts also get tickets to the annual MIEE and SCS Summit, both held at Microsoft HQ in Redmond, Washington.

Our MIEE Journey – 1 Big Takeaway

We learned a lot during our journey toward earning our MIEE certification, including how to harness Microsoft’s Education Transformation Framework. But above all else, we learned the importance of accountability when striving towards this major certification.

Like many educators, we knew that our time and motivation for earning this certification would be strained by our day-to-day workload. Luckily, we also knew that we would be more motivated to stay on track if we had some accountability built-in to our application process. So, we decided to become accountability buddies, setting aside time on a regular basis to check-in with each other and support one another towards our shared goal.

Accountability can be the key to earning MIEE, in particular. The MIEE journey involves multiple learning paths and a full application process, so it helps a lot to have someone at your back who can encourage you to keep moving forward.

Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert Q & A

Here’s a few more questions often asked about the MIEE certification and application process. You can also learn more about MIEE on Microsoft’s website.

What is MIEE?

Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert or “MIEE” for short is a program that recognizes educators around the world who are using Microsoft technology to enhance student outcomes and change the face of education. After completing certain prerequisites, individuals may nominate themselves for MIEE status, which comes with numerous benefits including access to a massive network of fellow Microsoft experts.

Are there prerequisites for MIEE?

Yes, prospective applicants will need to complete several prerequisites in order to earn MIEE status, including:

  • Become a Microsoft Innovative Educator by completing two hours of coursework from Microsoft’s 205 courses and 32 learning paths.
  • Become a Microsoft Innovative Educator Trainer by implementing what you’ve learned to mentor other educators
  • Apply for MIEE, including completing an exam that tests your knowledge of Microsoft education tools and submitting an artifact of your prior work

Do I need to complete an exam for MIEE?

Yes, MIEE applicants must pass an exam that tests applicants on their understanding and implementation of Microsoft’s learning tools. This exam consists of multiple choice, order sequence, and long answer questions.

When is the deadline for MIEE?

The 2022-2023 MIEE application window opens May 15, 2022 and closes July 15, 2022. More information can be found on Microsoft’s MIEE resource page.

Start on your own MIEE Journey Today!

With this year’s MIEE application window opening in just under a month, now is a great time to grab an accountability buddy and start your own MIEE journey.

The LTC is here to support you along that journey. If you have questions about the MIEE process, feel free to reach out to two of our team’s current MIE Experts – Holly Kelly (hkelly@ltcillinois.org) and Lisa Schwartz (lschwartz@ltcillinois.org). You can also connect with other prospective applicants and fellow Microsoft users over on the LTC Community.

Pack your Bags for these 2022 Education Conferences!

Whether in-person or virtual, conferences are a great way to network with fellow educators in your role and learn a lot about the latest education developments and best practices. These gatherings offer an unparalleled opportunity to earn PD credit and grow your professional learning network to a statewide or even nationwide scale.

If you have knowledge to share, many conferences are also a great opportunity to share your experience and help your fellow educators take the next step on their own professional learning journey.

No matter why you attend, there’s a 2022 education conference with your name on it. In fact, many conferences are returning this year after a temporary hiatus, offering administrators, IT professionals, and teachers at every grade level the chance to engage once again with content relevant to their position.

To make planning your professional travels a little easier, we’ve collected some of this year’s most popular conference offerings into a single, convenient list. Take a peek and see if any of these state and national conferences pique your desire to learn!

In-State Education Conferences in 2022

Conference NameAudienceLocation/FormatDatesCost
SecurED SchoolsK-12 administrators, technology leaders, and IT staffVirtualJan. 19th – 20th, 2022$25
Career & Technical Education Conference (CTE)CTE educatorsBloomington, ILFebruary 17 – 18, 2022Varies – See website
IDEAConEducators and technology directorsSchaumburg, IL Feb. 14th -17th, 2022Varies – see website
Illinois Reading Council Conference (IRC)Literacy advocates, library media specialists, educators, and researchersSpringfield, ILMarch 10 – 11, 2022Varies – see website
EIU Mini-Conference on Technology EducationK-12 EducatorsCharleston, ILApril 2, 2022Free
Illinois Career Connections ConferenceK-12 CTE educatorsTinley Park, IL & Springfield, IL April 25/26, 2022$75
Environmental Education Association of Illinois Annual Conference(EEAI)EducatorsYorkville, ILApril 8th & 9th, 2022Varies – see website
WITconK-12 EducatorsKnoxville, ILJune 15, 2022TBA
Illinois Association of School Administrators New Superintendents Conference (IASA)School superintendents Springfield, ILJuly 11th -12th, 2022TBA
EdTech Next by LTCEducators who want to learn about emerging edtech, technology accessibility & engagement pedagogyGalena, ILAugust 1-2, 2022$150
SAMRi Teacher CampK-12 TeachersAurora, ILAugust 2, 2022Free
Illinois Association of School Administrators Annual Conference(IASA)School superintendents, assistant superintendents, state agency staff, and college professors of educational administrationSpringfield, ILSept. 28th – 30th, 2022TBA
Illinois Science Teachers Association Annual Conference (ISTA)STEM educatorsWheaton, ILMid- OctoberTBA
Illinois Council of Teachers of Mathematics Annual Conference (ICTM)Math educators, administratorsTBAMid-October$25/members
Illinois Education & Technology Conference (IETC)Educators, IT staff, and administratorsSpringfield, ILNovember 2 – 4, 2022TBA
Illinois Business Education Association (IBEA)Business educatorsTBANovember 2 – 4th 2022 TBA
Illinois Art Education Association Annual Conference(IAEA)Visual and performing arts educatorsSt. Charles, ILNovember  10-12, 2022 TBA
Joint Annual Conference – IASB/IASA/IASBOSchool board members, administrators, and business officialsChicago, ILTBA TBA
Raising Student Achievement Conference (RSAC) Educators, administrators, professional development coordinatorsSchaumburg, IL Dec. 13 – 14th, 2021Varies – See website
Illinois Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, & Dance Convention (IAHPERD)Health & physical educators, administratorsTBADecember 2022Varies – See website

National Education Conferences in 2022

Conference NameAudienceFormat/ LocationDatesCost
Future of Education Technology Conference (FETC)Educators, tech directors, administratorsOrlando, FLJan. 25 – 28, 2022Varies – see website
Texas Computer Education Association Convention & Exposition (TCEA)Educators, tech directors, administratorsDallas, TXFeb. 7 – 10, 2022Varies – see website
AASA National ConventionSuperintendentsNashville, TNFeb. 17- 19, 2022Varies – see website
Computer-Using Educators Conference (CUE)Educators, tech directors, administratorsVirtual & Palm Springs, CAMarch 17-19, 2022Varies – see website
Consortium of School Networks Conference (COSN)K-12 education technology leadersNashville, TNApril 11 – 13, 2022Varies – see website
National Business Education Association (NBEA)Business and economics educatorsChicago, ILApril 12 – 15, 2022Varies – see website
International Society for Technology in Education Conference (ISTE)Educators, tech directors, administratorsNew Orleans, LAJune 26 – 29, 2022TBA
Computer Science Teachers Association Conference (CSTA)K-12 Educators, Computer Science Teachers, AdministratorsChicago, ILJuly 14 -17, 2022Varies – see websites

Looking for a particular conference? Did we miss one of your favorites? Email me at lschwartz@ltcillinois.org and I’d be happy to add it!

I look forward to seeing you at one of these great 2022 education conferences!

Computer Science Week

This week we celebrate Computer Science Education Week in recognition of Grace Hopper’s birthday on Dec. 9, 1906. During this week, K-12 students are encouraged to participate in an “hour of code’ as part of the Hour of Code initiative to help students realize that they, too, can learn the basics of coding. If bringing coding into your classroom makes you a little nervous, don’t worry! You do not need any prior experience to have your students participate in an hour of code activity. Code.org, one of the leading resources for coding in schools, believes that “anybody can learn” and wants computer science in every school so that every child has the opportunity to be exposed to it. CS Week and Hour of Code have the goal of exposing students to code with the hope they will want to learn more about computer science going forward. As a former computer science teacher, this was always one of my favorite weeks of the year! 

The History of Computer Science Week

In 2010, Computing in the Core Coalition launched activities and events to support Computer Science Education Week. In 2013, Code.org launched Hour of Code during CSEdWeek which reached over 15 million students across 167 countries. Since then Code.org continues to develop materials and resources for teachers and students to use in the classroom beyond just the hour. 

Why is Computer Science important?

Simply put, technology is everywhere and is not going away. According to Code.org, 67% of new STEM jobs are in computing and the #1 source of new wages comes from computing jobs. As of 2017, there were over 20,000 open computing jobs here in Illinois. 

“The Hour of Code is designed to demystify code and show that computer science is not rocket science—anybody can learn the basics,” said Hadi Partovi, founder, and CEO of Code.org. “Over 100 million students worldwide have tried an Hour of Code. The demand for relevant 21st-century computer science education crosses all borders and knows no boundaries.”

When I was teaching computer science, I was always searching for new and impactful materials to supplement my CS curriculum. In 2013 Code.org jumped in to help support the CS movement, and I was very grateful for more resources to use with my students. The materials available are so much more than just an “hour” worth of material to use to teach computer science. Code.org provides an incredible participation guide that will help you get started today.

They also have developed a free online curriculum and offer free training to educators! The CS Fundamentals are for K-5 students, CS Discoveries are for 6th – 10th-grade students and CS Principles are for 9th – 12th grades.

Beyond the Hour of Code

If you are looking for more free computer science resources to use with students, check out this list below.

AI for Oceans by Code.org. Code.org is featuring a new activity this year to expose students to artificial intelligence. Meet AI, the robot that helps clean up the ocean. Check out this video from Code.org to learn about machine learning.

Scratch by MIT. Students create interactive stories, games, and animations using block-based programming. Scratch statistics since 2008.

CSFirst by Google. Uses Scratch to help students learn about coding. 

Swift Playgrounds by Apple. Learn to code on the iPad.

Microsoft Makecode. Students use a variety of devices to run programs on and receive immediate feedback.

As you venture into the coding world and your students want more challenges take a look at this list of  Computer Science curriculum resources.

Code.org. (2019). What’s wrong with this picture?. [online] Available at: https://code.org/promote [Accessed 26 Nov. 2019].

The How and Why of Becoming Google Certified

Do you need to go through the entire fundamental course?

The answer is no. However, I did so in order to learn as much as possible and not miss out on anything. If you feel confident in the content, go to the end of each unit in the training and complete the Unit Review to test yourself on the material. When satisfied with results, proceed to the next unit. If not, it is possible to review that unit again. Eric Curts has provided an outstanding checklists about topics before taking the exam. 

Google Certified Educator Level 1

Google Certified Educator Level 2

Are you ready for Google Level 1 and 2 Certification tests?

Once the content has been reviewed, exams are the next step. It took a while before I was ready to take the exams. I had a hard time finding time to complete the Fundamentals training. When I finished the training, I questioned if I knew the material well enough to take the exam. When I did take the test, I would have benefitted from some of the following facts:

  • You are given 3 hours to complete the exam.
  • The exam consists of multiple-choice questions, drag and drop, and performance-based scenarios.
  • $10 exam fee with up to 7 days to take the exam.
  • On average, 30% of educators are unsuccessful at passing the 1st time.
  • The primary reason people fail is not enough time to complete the exam.  
  • If you fail, you are allowed to take the exam again in 14 days, and a third time in 60 days.
  • Certification is valid for 3 years.

Knowing these facts was reassuring because even in the event of a failure, the exam can be retaken with a much higher likelihood of passing! 

Why did I want to become Google Certified?

Now let’s go to the “Why did I… ” part of the certification. Simply put, I wanted to learn more about effectively using Google Apps with students and educators. I also wanted to prove to myself that I could complete the certification. The good news was I did it! I passed both exams and received a digital badge and certification from Google. The badge can be used in your email signature to promote your ability to implement Google tools in the classroom. In conclusion, this process essentially taught me more about Google Apps and implementing technology skills in the classroom so I could do more with my students and help educators.

What I have learned in this process? 

Reflecting back on the journey, I’ve learned that we don’t give ourselves enough credit for what we know. I see this with the teachers I work with on a daily basis and I find myself falling into this mindset as well. Through this certification journey, I have learned so much about Google Apps and how to incorporate them into the classroom. I have discovered so many new ideas regarding how I can use these tools with students and my fellow educators. In completing the Google Certifications, I have proved to myself, my students, and fellow educators that I am a continuous learner. It is very exciting to call myself a Google Level 1 and 2 Certified Educator! In fact, I was so motivated after completing these 2 certifications, that I applied for, and was accepted, as a Google Certified Trainer! It has been quite a journey and one that I hope you will consider embarking on as well! 

The LTC can help you!

The Learning Technology Center (LTC) has Google Level 1 and 2 Certification workshops that will help you practice the performance-based scenarios of the certifications and answer any other questions you may have about the process. Check out the LTC website to find a workshop near you. 

3 Great Resources to Teach Digital Citizenship

Understanding how to interact with the digital world is more important than ever. Being an outstanding digital citizen is vital for our kids today. In this post, I’ve collected my favorite three websites that can help you, as an educator, prepare your students to be good digital citizens! The first website gives you, the teacher, background information and resources for your class. While the following two websites give kids a space to learn at their own pace, digital citizenship information through interactive quests or games. 21 Things 4 Teachers For any teacher who is new to teaching digital citizenship in their classroom, this website provides great resources on the nine themes of digital citizenship. The nine themes of digital citizenship are broken down into three categories, Respect, Educate and Protect.

Respect Yourself/Respect Others

  • Digital Access
  • Digital Etiquette
  • Digital Law

Educate Yourself/Connect with Others

  • Digital Commerce
  • Digital Communication
  • Digital Literacy

Protect Yourself/Protect Others

  • Digital Rights & Responsibilities
  • Digital Health & Wellness
  • Digital Security

This background information leads into the quests the students can do for 21 Things 4 Students. 21 Things 4 Students Students can participate in quests to learn about the digital world through project-based activities. This curriculum is free and allows students to go at their own pace. The students will watch videos, read the material, complete surveys and see the results, and reflect on what they learn through various activities.  Each “thing” is standalone to the other “things”, so you may choose to assign certain topics from the 21 Things 4 Students activity list. Common Sense Digital Passport Common Sense Digital Passport has six interactive games for grades 3 – 5. Each game allows students to learn more about digital citizenship, safety, and etiquette. If you are hesitant about how to incorporate this into your curriculum, Common Sense has an educator guide to help you plan. The topics that are covered in the six interactive games include:

  • Security
  • Multitasking
  • Privacy
  • Upstander
  • Search
  • Creative Credit