LTC Receives State Achievement Award from SETDA

June 16, 2021 (Champaign, IL) – The Learning Technology Center of Illinois (LTC) is proud to announce that it has been awarded the State Achievement Award for Professional Learning by the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA). This award recognizes the LTC’s ongoing efforts to serve all Illinois schools and educators as part of its Professional Learning Statewide System of Support.

SETDA’s State Achievement Awards, which were presented during the 2021 SETDA Emerging Trends Forum on June 15, 2021, celebrate and recognize the impact of significant edtech programs and projects while also offering proven frameworks that other leaders can utilize to effect positive change in their states.

“Our team continually seeks new opportunities to bring timely professional learning to educators, administrators, and IT leaders across our state,” says Tim McIlvain, LTC Executive Director. “This year, the LTC has facilitated 750+ events on relevant and high-need topics and supported over 24,000 participants through this work.”

The LTC’s professional learning support system includes numerous options designed to meet the evolving needs of today’s educators and educational institutions. Current event options include in-person and online networking meetings, regional and state workshops, webinars, online courses, in-district events, micro-credentials, administrator academies, and conferences.

To facilitate these programs, the LTC maintains a team of regional coordinators and statewide content experts that provide professional learning on a variety of topics – including remote education, digital learning, technology integration, leadership, and more. Together, they craft high-impact learning opportunities that address short and long-term needs while also advocating for effective instructional, assessment, and curricular practices.

“We’re grateful to SETDA for this recognition,” McIlvain added. “It reflects the vision, talent, and dedication of our staff and their drive to help Illinois students reach their full potential.”

About the Learning Technology Center

The Learning Technology Center is an Illinois State Board of Education program that supports all public K-12 districts, schools, and educators as they strive to maximize their use and access to educational technology. Through affordable technology initiatives, services, and professional learning opportunities, the LTC aims to grow Illinois’ edtech integration and improve educational opportunities for all Illinois students.

To learn more, visit us at our website or follow us on social media (@ltcillinois on Twitter and Facebook). 

About SETDA

The State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) is the principal association representing U.S. state and territorial educational technology and digital learning leaders. Through a broad array of programs and advocacy, SETDA builds member capacity and engages partners to empower the education community in leveraging technology for learning, teaching, and school operations.

For more information about SETDA, visit their website or follow them on Twitter.

NOW OPEN – IETC 2021 Early Bird Registration!

The future of edtech is here. Now’s your chance to harness technology’s renewed classroom potential by learning from and networking with your peers at IETC 2021!

Registration for the 28th annual Illinois Education and Technology Conference (IETC) is now open, offering educators across the Midwest an opportunity to gather together and share their insights about the latest digital tools, trends, and integration practices. With a fresh, hybrid experience, this year’s conference promises to be among the most memorable and impactful yet.

As our community returns to in-person opportunities to learn and fellowship together, this is one edtech conference you won’t want to miss. Register for IETC 2021 today and get ready to learn, explore, and connect like never before!

Building the New Normal of EdTech

For nearly three decades, IETC has been at the center of conversations surrounding technology integration strategies, engaging instructional practices, digital tools and resources, and other emerging edtech trends. This year’s conference promises to maintain that tradition while also helping educators chart a course for the new normal of edtech integration.

IETC is also a rich environment for sharing diverse perspectives from across the education spectrum. As such, all educators – including teachers, administrators, technology coaches, and more – are encouraged to attend and join with their peers as they expand their professional horizons. 

A Hybrid Model to Serve All Educators

For the first time ever, this year’s IETC will be a hybrid experience, with both in-person and virtual components. Educators from around the state will be able to attend this acclaimed conference on site in Springfield or from home while still participating in the insightful sessions and workshops IETC is known for.

New Attendance Options

To coincide with this year’s hybrid model, IETC 2021 will also offer two different attendance options geared toward the needs of our expansive edtech community.

First, as in previous years, Midwest educators will have the option of attending IETC in-person at our conference home in Springfield, Illinois. There, attendees will have an opportunity to converse with peers, attend an assortment of special topic workshops, and take in the live conference atmosphere that many educators have missed.

At the same time, prospective IETC attendees can also choose to take part in this conference virtually. That means you’ll be able to tune into a wide assortment of sessions and panels on your own schedule – including this year’s exciting and enlightening key note sessions! Virtual attendees will also gain access to all of the presentations and slide decks from this year’s conference, making it easier than ever to maximize your professional learning potential at an affordable price.

Experience #IETC2021!

Without question, IETC is the best place in the Midwest to learn about both the present and future of educational technology. We want you to be a part of this formative edtech experience, too, so register for IETC 2021 today! Whether you attend virtually or in person, you’re sure to walk away with a new perspective on what edtech can do to enhance your educational capabilities.

Questions? Visit our conference website for more information on what it means to attend a hybrid conference. You can also email your questions to events@ltcillinois.org.

Keep Up with the Latest from IETC 2021

Stay up to date on everything IETC – both leading up to and during the conference. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram or sign up for our newsletter. That way, you can be the first to hear every IETC 2021 updates – including our upcoming schedule announcement!

Request for Proposals – Share your Voice at IETC 2021!

The 28th annual Illinois Education and Technology Conference (IETC) is on its way, bringing with it an immersive hybrid experience geared toward the professional learning needs of all educators, IT staff, and administrators.

Powered by the Learning Technology Center (LTC), this year’s conference will focus on supporting and inspiring educators as they build the new normal of classroom technology integration. To do that, IETC needs your help – and more importantly, IETC needs your unique perspectives on what works in educational technology.

Starting today, you are formally invited to submit a proposal and be a part of IETC 2021! Now is an outstanding opportunity to share what you’ve learned through research and practice – especially as your fellow educators work to shape a new generation of future-ready students.

Educators around Illinois and throughout the Midwest are excited to hear from you. Make 2021 the year you share your voice by submitting a proposal for IETC!

Building the New Normal in EdTech

For nearly three decades, IETC has been at the center of conversations surrounding technology integration strategies, engaging instructional practices, digital tools and resources, and other emerging edtech trends. Prospective presenters are encouraged to share their views on any of these relevant topics, as well as any insights about how edtech’s present can inform its ever-evolving future.

IETC is also a rich environment for sharing diverse perspective from across the education spectrum. As such, educators of all stripes – including teachers, administrators, technology coaches, and more – are encouraged to submit a proposal and support their peers as they expand their professional horizons. 

Presenter Benefits

Without question, IETC’s attendees benefit richly from your choice to present during the conference. But you’ll also benefit when you choose to share your voice at IETC. In fact, this year’s presenters will enjoy the following benefits when it comes time to step out on the IETC stage:

  • Waived attendance fees for lead presenters
  • Professional stipend (only for Workshops)
  • Continental breakfast and lunch
  • The opportunity take part in one of the Midwest’s premier edtech conferences

Presentation Types

For the first time ever, this year’s IETC will be a hybrid experience, with both in-person and virtual components. Educators around the state will be able to attend this acclaimed conference on site in Springfield or from home while still fully participating in a full slate of insightful sessions and workshops.

To bring this hybrid experience to life, this year’s presenters have several options when it comes to sharing their knowledge and insights, including:

  • Panels
  • 3-Hour Workshops
  • 6-Hour Workshops
  • Concurrent Sessions

Submission Deadlines

Currently, IETC plans to release its full agenda this coming summer. As such, prospective presenters like you should keep the following deadlines in mind as you plan your proposal submission:

  • May 21 – Workshops
  • June 11 – General Sessions 

Share your Voice at IETC 2021

IETC 2021 is shaping up to be one of the most engaging and accessible edtech gatherings in the Midwest. With your contributions, this year’s IETC can provide breakthrough opportunities for your fellow educators – starting with your presentation or workshop.

But don’t wait! Submit your IETC 2021 proposal today and lend your voice to the ever-growing body of knowledge surrounding edtech’s future.

Digital Literacy Conference Registration Now Open!

Exciting news! The Digital Literacy Conference is now open for registration. This one-day gathering of educators from around Illinois will offer teachers, administrators, library media specialists, and more an opportunity to engage with one of education’s most relevant topics – digital literacy – in all of its forms.

Interested in attending? Taking part in the Digital Literacy Conference’s numerous informative sessions couldn’t be easier. This fully virtual conference will allow attendees to tune in from anywhere on their own schedule. Participants will even be able to watch recordings of every session after the conference so that they don’t miss a single insight.

At only $25, the Digital Literacy Conference also represents an affordable option for growing your knowledge on this big-picture topic. Register now over on the #DigLitCon homepage!

What is the Digital Literacy Conference?

This summer, the Learning Technology Center (LTC) is leading a brand-new conference which strives to make digital literacy front of mind for educators of all domains and grade levels. Today’s students need these new literacy skills in order to successfully locate, evaluate, interpret, and create information – both in and out of the classroom. In response to this need, we’ve created the Digital Literacy Conference to serve as the spark for innovative digital literacy education in Illinois.

Over the course of this one-day virtual event, the Digital Literacy Conference will offer an assortment of presentations focused on practical digital literacy pedagogy. These presentations will be separated into nine strands, ranging from computer literacy to digital resource ethics. Together, these strands will offer educators an opportunity to engage with the most important aspects of digital literacy in a single, content-rich gathering.

At its core, the Digital Literacy Conference is focused on reaching individuals with a stake in teaching digital literacy or guiding curricular decisions relating to digital literacy. With that in mind, we are inviting teachers, administrators, technology coaches, and library media specialists to take part in this conference, both as speakers and as attendees.

A Focus on Digital Literacy’s Many Strands

The Digital Literacy Conference will center around nine distinct strands, each focusing on a different component of fully-fledged digital literacy. Educators across all grade levels and subject areas will find relevant content within these strands, so don’t miss this chance to expand your digital literacy horizons.

Information & News Literacy

Civics and journalism have never been more important in an era where the truth is under persistent attack. Presentations in this strand will help isolate the skills students need to separate fact from fiction, including the ability to find reliable sources, check credibility, and recognize false or misleading narratives.

Visual Literacy

Young people today interact with a lot of visual media, often without the skills to fully appreciate or contextualize what they are seeing. This strand will focus on several key competencies that can help build critical visual literacy, including the ability to interpret infographics, analyze images, design practical websites, and utilize popular graphics (such as GIFs or memes) for educational purposes. 

Media Literacy

Media messages can subtly impact how today’s students think, act, and feel, both in and out of the classroom. This strand will highlight several of the most important elements of media messaging – including persuasion tactics, data integration, branding, and advertising – and demonstrate how this messaging impacts both history and society’s views on gender roles.

Computer Literacy

In order to fully appreciate a computer’s function, students and teachers alike must begin to understand how their digital devices function at a technical level. This strand will center around a few broadly-applicable computer functions that impact education, including cybersecurity and the ways data collection can impact student privacy.

Digital Communication

Presentations in this strand will consider the impact of digital communication by discussing different modern communication channels, including texts, emails, social media, online communities, personal learning networks, blogs, and podcasts. Inquiries in this strand will also expand to societal-level discussions about digital norms and the rights of consumers online.

Digital Citizenship

Today’s students will be tomorrow’s stewards of the world’s online communities. This strand will focus on helping build the skill sets and mindsets students will need to be successful in this significant undertaking, including the ability to foster a healthy relationship with technology and the ability to make age-appropriate internet safety decisions.

Digital Tattoos

Unlike a “digital footprint,” a “digital tattoo” is both personal and permanent. This strand will focus on helping students understand how their words, pictures, and actions online can follow them – for better and for worse – well into adulthood.

Ethical Uses of Digital Resources

Everything online is not free, and students must learn the importance of providing proper credit whenever they utilize a digital resource. This strand will center on building those skills while also digging into copyright, Creative Commons licensing, fair use, and plagiarism.

General

There are lots of outstanding digital literacy resources out there today. This strand will highlight several of the most popular and demonstrate how those resources can be applied in a variety of grade level and domain-specific learning environments.

Register Today!

There’s so much to learn about digital literacy, and we cannot wait to see what you take away from the Digital Literacy Conference. Mark June 4th in your calendar and register today to reserve your digital seat at this remarkable professional learning opportunity!

Stay Tuned for More Updates from #DigLitCon

In the coming weeks, we’ll have more exciting updates about the Digital Literacy Conference, including an announcement about the full conference schedule.

To keep up with the latest on the Digital Literacy Conference, follow the LTC on social media (@ltcillinois on Twitter and Facebook) or subscribe to our monthly newsletter. More information on the conference can also be found on the #DigLitCon homepage.

Interested in Presenting at #DigLitCon?

The Digital Literacy Conference is still accepting presentation proposals, now through March 26th. If you have experience teaching digital literacy, consider submitting a proposal and joining our excellent team of experienced, knowledgeable speakers.

New Updates for Microsoft for Education and Google Chrome Management Licensing

As we all look forward to warmer days ahead, the Illinois Learning Technology Purchasing Program (ILTPP) has announced several updates to two of their most popular contracts. These updates will help your school or district blossom into new learning opportunities this spring and budget more effectively for the 21-22 school year.

Imagine Academy Included in Microsoft for Education Contract

First, ILTPP is excited to announce an upgrade to their current Enrollment for Education Solutions (EES) Microsoft contract. Specifically, participants in these contracts can now look forward to accessing top-quality technology teaching and professional learning materials through Microsoft’s Imagine Academy program.

That’s because, going forward, all ILTPP ESS contract participants will receive access to Imagine Academy for FREE.

Through Imagine Academy, teachers can find lesson plans and other curricular materials that cover a wide range of subjects, from computer and data science to IT infrastructure and productivity. These materials are all aligned to current, in-demand tech industry certifications, ensuring that students walk away with career-ready skills.

Imagine Academy also provides educators access to Microsoft-specific certifications and other professional development resources that can help them stay at the top of their game. This includes the ability to add certification exam vouchers to an existing licensing agreement, thus reducing the cost of certification for both individuals and teams.

Interested in learning more about how you can utilize Imagine Academy through a new or existing ESS Microsoft contract? Check out ILTPP’s new blog post for more information.

Upcoming Price Increase for Google Chrome Management Licenses

Last year, Google announced that it would be increasing the price of its Chrome Management license. Though this price hike has been delayed until March 9, 2021, ILTPP wants to remind districts to plan ahead when it comes to edtech budgeting for the 21-22 school year.

As before, ILTPP members will continue to receive a discount on these licenses. However, this price increase will result in a noticeable change in per license costs, even with the discount.

New licenses may be purchased prior to this increase, but they must be invoiced before March 9. To learn more about this fee increase, visit ILTPP’s website.

Always Prepared to Meet Your EdTech Purchasing Needs

Whether you’re looking for great pricing on edtech hardware or software, ILTPP has you covered with its vast catalogue of pre-negotiated contracts. Schools and districts across Illinois can save time and money by utilizing ILTPP’s competitive pricing options on everything from Chromebooks and wi-fi hotspots to cybersecurity and LMS software.

Most importantly, ILTPP is FREE to join. To learn more about ILTPP and the benefits of membership, visit their website or contact the ILTPP team at learnmore@iltpp.org

About ILTPP

The Illinois Learning Technology Purchase Program (ILTPP) is a statewide cooperative of Illinois educational entities that aggregate buying power and expertise to procure technology products and services from quality vendor partners while providing valued communication and collaboration.

ILTPP is an initiative of the Learning Technology Center (LTC) and contributes to the LTC’s mission of building statewide capacity for educational change through technology-related professional learning, programs, initiatives, and support.

Now Accepting Proposals for the Digital Literacy Conference

This summer, the Learning Technology Center (LTC) is proud to host a timely conference centered on one of today’s most relevant edtech topics – digital literacy. At the Digital Literacy Conference, educators from across Illinois will gather together to share their experiences with teaching news literacy, media literacy, digital citizenship, and so much more.

We want you to be part of this conference’s team of presenters! If you have experience working with or teaching digital literacy, then we want you to submit a presentation proposal today. Together with your peers in K-12 education, we can collectively chart a course for teaching this critical new literacy.

What is the Digital Literacy Conference?

The LTC is leading a brand-new conference which strives to make digital literacy front of mind for educators of all domains and grade levels. Today’s students need these new literacy skills to succeed in school and beyond, so we’ve created the Digital Literacy Conference to serve as a spark for innovative digital literacy education across Illinois.

Over the course of this one-day virtual event, the Digital Literacy Conference will offer an assortment of presentations focused on practical digital literacy pedagogy. These presentations will be separated into nine strands, ranging from computer literacy to digital resource ethics. Together, these strands will offer educators an opportunity to engage with the most important aspects of digital literacy in a single, content-rich gathering.

At its core, the Digital Literacy Conference is focused on reaching individuals with a stake in teaching digital literacy or guiding curricular decisions relating to digital literacy. With that in mind, we are inviting teachers, administrators, technology coaches, and library media specialists to take part in this conference, both as speakers and as participants.

What type of proposals are being accepted?

The Digital Literacy Conference is accepting proposals across its several core strands, including the following:

Computer Literacy

Presenters under this strand will offer their understanding of computer language and digital networks in general. This includes discussions on cybersecurity and privacy, as well as best practices for collecting and utilizing data at an individual or institutional level. 

Digital Communication

This strand will primarily focus on the impact digital channels have on contemporary communication. This includes the influence of modern communication channels utilized both in and out of the classroom, including texts, emails, social media, and more. Sessions in this strand may also branch out to larger issues relating to digital communications, including the rights of users and societal norms for online engagement.

Digital Tattoos

Like a “digital footprint”, a “digital tattoo” describes the body of information and data left behind by someone as they interact online. These two words are not synonyms, however. Unlike a “digital footprint,” which can be scrubbed away over time, a “digital tattoo” is both permanent and personal.

As a result, today’s students must build an understanding of how their words, pictures, and actions online can follow them – for better and for worse – well into adulthood. This strand will focus on these kinds of discussions, and center around the best ways students can foster mindful curation of their own “digital tattoo.”

Other Strands

The Digital Literacy Conference is also interested in proposals on a variety of other relevant topics, including:

·   Information & News Literacy

·   Visual Literacy

·   Media Literacy

·   Ethical Uses of Digital Resources

·   Digital Citizenship

You can find full descriptions for each of these strands over on the conference homepage.

When is the deadline for proposal submissions?

Proposals for the Digital Literacy Conference are due on March 26, 2021. Applicants will receive notification of their acceptance soon after the deadline.

Where can I submit a proposal?

If you are interested in submitting a proposal, visit our conference homepage and click the yellow button labeled “Submit a Proposal”.

Stay Tuned for More Updates on #DigLitCon

In the coming weeks, we’ll have more exciting updates about the Digital Literacy Conference, including an announcement about participant registration.’

To keep up with the latest on the Digital Literacy Conference, follow the LTC on social media (@ltcillinois on Twitter and Facebook) or subscribe to our monthly newsletter. More information on the conference, including descriptions of every conference strand, can also be found on the #DigLitCon homepage.

Achieve your 2021 Edtech Goals with an Instructional Technology Coach

Now more than ever, technology has become an essential part of nearly every classroom. From teaching 21st century skills to teaching remotely, today’s edtech empowers educators to meet their students’ needs and guide them to deeper levels of engagement on a daily basis.

But before a teacher can implement a new piece of educational technology, they must first feel confident in their own mastery of a device or platform. In many cases, educators at any grade level can reach that summit by working with an instructional technology coach.

This year, the Learning Technology Center (LTC) is expanding its popular Instructional Technology Coaching Program. We believe that many districts across Illinois can benefit from embedded instructional technology support, and that our program can make that resource both accessible and affordable.

Already, one of the LTC’s instructional technology coaches has made a marked difference for three districts in northern Illinois. Learn more about our current program below to see if it is a good fit for meeting your district’s ongoing edtech needs.

What is an Instructional Technology Coach?

At their core, an instructional technology coach serves as a partner to a district’s teachers by offering them personalized support with their edtech integration. After identifying a classroom challenge, instructional technology coaches and teachers collaborate to brainstorm solutions, implement strategies, and reflect on progress afterward.

In a larger sense, instructional technology coaching is an ongoing, job-embedded form of professional learning that is grounded in day-to-day teaching and learning practices. Over the long-term, instructional technology coaching is designed to enhance teachers’ utilization of educational technology, with the further goal of improving student learning outcomes.

What does an Instructional Technology Coach Do?

As part of your district’s support team, an instructional technology coach can play a critical role in keeping teachers on the right track toward continuous professional learning. To do this, an instructional technology coach can take on a wide variety of responsibilities, based entirely on your district’s needs.

Some of the most common instructional technology coaching responsibilities include:

·  Facilitating coaching cycles

·  Co-planning

·  Co-teaching and modeling

·  Offering observational feedback

·  Resource creation

·  Data analysis

·  Group instruction

·  Device or platform-specific training

·  One-on-one meeting

Our instructional technology coaches are not limited to a certain set of tasks, however. The district retains a high level of control over daily responsibilities and overall goals. As a result, our instructional technology coach’s work within your district or even a specific building can be modified to meet the faculty’s evolving needs.

For example, one of our current instructional technology coaches, Elizabeth Byam, was working with several districts in northern Illinois during the first half of 2020. As a result, she played a critical role in helping her districts transition to fully remote learning. Even now, as those same schools begin to transition back into the classroom, Elizabeth has helped teachers in all of her districts learn to use platforms like Google Classroom, Seesaw, Screencastify, and more in their standard instruction regiment.

How can an Instructional Technology Coach Benefit my District?

At a basic level, most every district in Illinois can benefit from hiring an instructional technology coach. Between their day-to-day support and their high level of professional competence, an instructional technology coach can quickly make themselves a valuable member of any district’s support team.

Short- and long-term benefits can differ from district to district, based upon their priorities and goals for professional development. Even so, each coach’s consistent goal is to help educators improve their teaching practices and enhance their technology integration – all while improving student learning opportunities.

Instructional technology coaching programs can also provide administrators and other decision-makers with an up-to-date understanding of their faculty’s technology competence and confidence. To that end, an instructional technology coach can help take the pulse within an educational team and offer insights to key stakeholders when it comes time to evaluate progress.

As an added bonus, working with an LTC instructional technology coach will also put you in direct connection with the LTC’s skilled team of edtech experts. This includes access to the LTC’s online community, as well as the ability to seek further edtech support through our network of regional educational technology coordinators (RETCs).

Simply put, an instructional technology coach can make the difference when it comes to reaching your district’s edtech utilization or integration goals. Whether they are initiating one-on-one coaching cycles, facilitating grade-level team discussions, or leading large-group professional learning opportunities, they will help make long-term technology integration a reality in your district.

What’s the Cost of Hiring an Instructional Technology Coach?

Hiring an instructional coach on your own can be challenging when it comes to cost. However, the LTC utilizes a cost-sharing model that makes instructional technology coaching accessible to more districts in a geographic region.

In essence, this shared-service model identifies several schools or districts in a region that are seeking instructional technology support. Then, we work to find coach candidates who can split their time between those several facilities. Each district has an opportunity to contract their coach for between 10 and 180 days a year, too, so costs can be controlled accordingly.

Through a shared-service model, small- and medium-sized school districts that do not need a full-time instructional technology coach can access the benefits of coaching without adding staff or committing to a full-time employee.

Supporting your Instructional Technology Coaching Needs in 2021

This spring, the LTC plans to work with districts across the state to identify their instructional technology coaching needs. From there, we will begin hiring LTC-employed instructional coaches and pairing those coaches with districts in shared geographic areas.

If you are interested in joining our Instructional Technology Coaching Program, then we want to hear from you. Contact Tim McIlvain at tmcilvain@ltcillinois.org so that we can begin to access your district’s needs.

You can also learn more about the Instructional Technology Coaching Program on the program’s homepage.

Micro-Credentials: New Horizons for Professional Learning

There’s no two ways around it – the old “sit-and-get” method of professional development isn’t suited to the needs of today’s educators. Not only does that format tend to result in passive learning, but it also doesn’t offer teachers enough agency in their professional learning journey.

Fortunately, a new trend in professional learning is making it easier for teachers to hone their skills and meet their own personal goals at the same time. Micro-credentials have gained traction over the past several years, and they may become your go-to method for acquiring new professional skills in the near future.

But what exactly is a “micro-credential”? More importantly, how can a micro-credential help you master a new classroom-ready skill?

With micro-credentialing on the horizon for Illinois educators, now’s the right time to learn what this innovative professional learning method has to offer.

What is a Micro-credential?

At a basic level, a micro-credential is a condensed course of study that allows a participant to narrowly focus on a skill or set of skills within a chosen field. As their name suggests, a micro-credential typically allows a participant to attain a certifiable credential, often in the form of a badge or transcript notation.

However, there’s more to a micro-credential’s DNA than just a badge and a few hours of learning. Here are just a few factors that set micro-credentials apart from other methods of professional learning:

Focused on Specific, Observable Skills

“Sit-and-get” professional development typically focuses on sharing knowledge with participants. Rarely do they offer participants the opportunity to actually apply what they are learning in real time.

Micro-credentials, on the other hand, offer participants a chance to practice the skills they are learning almost immediately. Micro-credential stacks typically last for several weeks, allowing participants time to implement what they’ve learned in the classroom and ask questions of their instructor as they go along.

At the same time, micro-credentials tend to focus on a specific skill or set of skills. This allows them to dig deep and offer participants a chance to gain an adaptable understanding of the subject at hand. In turn, participants walk away with a greater capacity to apply what they’ve learned in the classroom without any delay.

Competency-Based 

Along the same lines, micro-credentials don’t take a participant’s understanding of the central topic as a given. Instead, a micro-credential provides participants an opportunity to demonstrate their mastery before walking out of the digital classroom door.

For example, a micro-credential instructor may ask a participant to supply artifacts of their skill implementation before the stack concludes. This ensures that the instructor is able to offer feedback and suggestions to the participant while they are still in the process of solidifying their competency.

Job-Embedded and Research-Based

Due to their focused nature, micro-credentials often offer an opportunity to master a skill that you can actually use on the job. Most micro-credential stacks offered by education organizations relate directly to classroom practices. So, you won’t be left guessing how you’ll use what you learned when it comes time to step back into the classroom.

Most micro-credentials are also focused on well-researched skills and concepts. As a result, they typically have a demonstrable impact in the classroom, based upon prior implementation by other educators. Your participation in a micro-credential will allow you to harness that research in the short-term, potentially leading to better outcomes for your students.

Personalized and Self-directed

One of the most marked trends in education right now centers around offering students agency and choice in the ways they learn. So, why shouldn’t educators be offered a similar level of agency when it comes time to hone their craft?

Micro-credentials do just that by providing educators clear choices about which knowledge and skills they attain. Participants are often encouraged to work through an entire stack, but they also have the option of participating in only the segments that pique their interest. Either way, educators will be engaging in a personalized professional learning experience like no other.

Along the same lines, micro-credentials offer participants more flexibility when it comes to actually sitting down and engaging with course content. That’s because many micro-credential stacks offer a mix of synchronous and asynchronous participation options. As a result, teachers are able to more effectively pursue professional learning on their own schedule.

What is a Micro-credential “Stack”?

On the surface, a micro-credential may look like an online course you’ve participated in before. However, there are several noteworthy differences that allow micro-credentials to be more flexible when it comes to their facilitation.

Generally speaking, a micro-credential is much shorter in length. Many education-related micro-credentials can be completed over the course of several weeks, rather than several months.

Also, micro-credentials are arranged into “stacks.” A stack is usually made up of three or more modules that are united by a common thread or goal. When a participant completes every module in a stack satisfactorily, they become eligible for the badge associated with that micro-credential.

This chart provides a closer look at how a micro-credential stack breaks down to its essential elements:

Who is using Micro-credentials?

Micro-credentials have become increasingly popular over the past several years, particularly in the education field. Numerous professional development providers have jumped on this trend and added micro-credentialing options to their catalogue of offerings.

Some of the most popular micro-credential providers currently include:

·  Digital Promise

·  BloomBoard

·  Future Learn

·  The Friday Institute

·  National Education Association

Micro-credentials and the LTC

Here at the LTC, we are constantly working to stay on the forefront of professional learning in the education field. That’s why we’re currently working on a micro-credentialing program of our own that can serve the needs of Illinois’ PK-12 educators.

Our first micro-credential stack is nearly complete, with an anticipated launch in Spring 2021. This first stack will focus on remote learning and will cover the following topics:

  • Understanding Remote Learning
  • Teaching Digital Citizenship & Internet Safety 
  • Importance of Social-Emotional Learning during Remote Learning 
  • Designing Remote Learning Experiences
  • Managing Remote Learning Experiences
  • Supporting Special Needs in Remote Learning
  • Remote Feedback and Assessment

This remote learning stack’s components will last roughly 6 hours each and will feature equal amounts of synchronous and asynchronous learning. All elements of this stack are aligned to ISTE and Learning Forward standards and will offer opportunities for virtual coaching and feedback.

Currently, we are recruiting educators who would like to participate in a pilot edition of this remote learning micro-credential stack. If you are interested in participating and receiving full credit for this micro-credential, let us know by filling out this form.

Further Readings on Micro-credentials

Interested in learning more about micro-credentials and the research supporting their efficacy? Be sure to check out these further readings and research:

·  How Microcredentials Help Educators Develop New Tech Skills

·  Who’s Completing Microcredentials?

·  Micro-Credentials and Education Policy in the United States

·  Developing a Student-Centered Workforce through Micro-Credentials

I’ve also recently hosted a webinar all about micro-credential basics and the LTC’s pilot program. You can view that webinar on demand here.

Coming Soon – An All-New LTC Community Experience

This past year of remote and hybrid learning has taught Illinois’ edtech community a lot, including the necessity of collaboration. Working together with in-district teachers and support staff was always a given before. Now, though, collaboration can and must cross district boundaries and extend to every corner of the Prairie State.

In 2021, the Learning Technology Center (LTC) remains committed to fostering this kind of collaboration, especially between like-minded educators around our broad state.

That’s why we’re proud to announce a new home for productive collaboration and effective networking in Illinois’ edtech community – our redesigned online Community.

Soon, this new Community will offer a unified space for asking questions and offering advice to your peers, no matter what region you live in. With a redesigned user interface, this new Community will be easier to navigate and will offer users more options for subscribing to noteworthy discussion threads.

At the same time, our new Community will retain many of the best functions of our current online community. This includes the ability to post and comment via email. Also, many of our current topic-based sub-groups will make the transition to our new platform.

Currently, our team is hard at work putting the finishing touches on the new Community. We’ll have more exciting news about our new Community soon, including its upcoming launch date.

You won’t want to miss these important updates. To keep tabs on the latest about our new Community, subscribe to our newsletter and follow the LTC on social media (@ltcillinois on Facebook and Twitter).

Questions about our new Community? Email us at community@ltcillinois.org.


Frequently Asked Questions

When will the new LTC Community launch?

Currently, our team is hard at work preparing the new LTC Community for public access. Once we are ready to launch, we’ll let you know.

To stay on top of new Community updates, we recommend joining our current Community and signing up for our newsletter. You can also follow us on social media (@ltcillinois on Facebook and Twitter).

What discussion groups will the new Community offer?

Our new Community will feature many of the same discussion sub-groups that you’ve come to appreciate. In particular, platform-specific groups for Apple, Microsoft, and Google products will return in the new Community. Topic-specific groups for E-Rate, Computer Science, and Instructional Technology will also make the transition to the new platform.

If the new Community is coming soon, should I still join the current Community?

Absolutely! We want educators, administrators, and edtech leaders like you to make full use of our existing Community while we put the finishing touches on the new Community.

Our current Community remains one of the best places to ask questions and share knowledge about edtech integration. When the time comes, we will help current Community members smoothly transition to our new platform. Current Community members should keep an eye out for future communications regarding this simple transition process.

LTC Joins Google Cloud Partner Program

CHAMPAIGN, DECEMBER 15, 2020 — The Learning Technology Center of Illinois (LTC) is proud to announce its recent acceptance into the Google Cloud Partner Program.

Through this program, the LTC will receive access to early-adopter information, priority access to new services, staff training, and further partnership opportunities. These benefits will be leveraged to support the 85% of Illinois school districts that utilize Google products to support student learning and district operations. 

“We’re very excited to join Google as a new partner” says Tim McIlvain, LTC Executive Director, “We believe that this partnership is a reflection of the needs of Illinois schools and our work to support their staff and students.”

Nearly 50% of the LTC’s professional learning opportunities in 2019 focused on Google applications and related services. “We anticipate a continuation of this high demand,” McIlvain indicated, “A strong connection with Google will allow us to better meet this growing need among Illinois schools and districts.” 

As this new partnership begins, the LTC continues to offer routine professional learning opportunities on Google-related topics. To learn more about the LTC’s upcoming Google events, check out our Events calendar.  

The LTC also offers in-district learning opportunities on Google-related topics through its network of Regional Educational Technology Coordinators (RETCs). To learn more or to schedule a consultation, contact your region’s RETC.

About Learning Technology Center

The Learning Technology Center is an Illinois State Board of Education program that supports all public K-12 districts, schools, and educators through technology initiatives, services, and professional learning opportunities. To learn more, visit http://ltcillinois.org or follow us on social media (@ltcillinois on Twitter and Facebook).