Below this professional tirade is a short description of the following programs:
- Flipgrid Certified Educator, Flipgrid Ambassador
- Common Sense Educator (digital citizenship training)
- National Geographic Educator Certification Program
- Adobe Education Exchange
- Flipped Learning International Ambassadors
- Seesaw Ambassador
- Certified BrainPOP Educator Program (online course registration link is here)
- Blue Ribbon Educator (Tynker Coding for Kids) See other types of Tynker training on offer here
- Google Certified Educator (Level 1 and Level 2), Google Certified Innovator, Google Certified Education Trainer *see the entire Google for Education Training Center landing page)
- Apple Teacher & Apple Distinguished Educator
- Microsoft Innovative Educator
Let’s start with the PLN. In the past I’ve heard educators show disdain for networking, devaluing the practice as self-serving and something done in business. Although I have met educators who build their networks for clicks and likes, I would argue the majority want to share, learn and engage. Basically, as you take these online programs you are building your professional network. Some require that you join a Google+, Facebook, or some kind of online professional community. This is where you interact and engage with others to get your students (and yourself) connected and more global and open-minded. I’ve had the good fortune to have has my students in Japan engage with students in North America and Asia. This is priceless. As an example, an eductor in the US and I (here in Japan) have students working on government and election campaigns. After viewing campaign commercials on Flipgrid students in the US will electronically vote on a Google Form. Thank you to my PLNs on Flipgrid and Twitter. It’s also pretty cool when you go to a professional development event and finally get to meet that people face-to-face, but with a relationship already established.
Stay Current by Getting Updates. Let’s build on the PLN idea. When you are a member of these communities you will get the newest information first. Whatever platform or company it is, when you are certified there is usually a closed group that you must be invited to join. When something new comes out, or there is an update, or perhaps even beta testing, you may be in the loop before many others. You can embrace (or be a part of) the change! Way cool.
Access to Great Resources & Experts. Again, PLN. (are you seeing the pattern?) When you are stuck needing a resource or an idea you will have more people to reach out to for support. If it is a very specific learning community, such as National Geographic, you’re more likely to get a very narrow body of resources. More often than not, someone will respond with resources. Worst case scenario? You get too much stuff to sift through. Nice problem to have, right? And you never know when there is an expert in your field who has done the same training and is part of that community.
Get Your Name Out There. Many for-profit and non-profit education organizations appreciate the time you’ve spent learning and earning these badges or certifications. Having these badges demonstrates the faith each organization has in your abilities to navigate and apply their platforms. Should you be one, like myself, who enjoys presenting at professional development events, these badges are proof that you know what you’re doing. (advice: stay up-to-date before presenting - the apps do change!) Sometimes you may have a company, such as a popular Google Partner called EdTechTeam, that will waive your event fees if you attend as an EdTechTeam Presenter. When organizations such as Edcamp, Coffee EDU, and ASCD know your name you may just be invited to present or coordinate.
Career Opportunities. You’re not selfish for planning your next move. Many educators are happy to be in the same place for their career, while others want to bounce around. Both are fine. Duh. Many of these networks not only offer classroom connections, professional interaction, and teacher learning, but also job postings. Although I don’t entirely believe in the idea of “it’s not what you know but who you know”, people will often give someone a look if they have had positive online interactions.
Free (or cheap) is Always Nice. Often these certifications are free and will only you cost time. If they cost, usually they are inexpensive. (the GCE1 and GCE 2 exams are $10 USD and $25 USD respectively) Additionally, you may get free stuff. If you take the time to become a Flipgrid Certified Educator you will get the Flipgrid Classroom version, and all of the platform options, for free for 45 days. (at the time of this writing)
If you have further questions leave a note in the comments section. Good luck and have fun with your professional learning journey!
Flipgrid Certified Educator, Flipgrid Ambassador. A simple but effective student voice video platform with a variety of teacher controls. The program will teach you how to navigate the platform. This platform is becoming very popular, very quickly. The platform also has other badges when you reach certain milestones, such as a certain nuber of views or responses.
Common Sense Educator. A digital citizenship initiative for kids that include educators, administrators, and parents. A massive range of resources. The program will teach you how to navigate the platform and resources. Many high-quality lessons and guides.
National Geographic Educator Certification Program. A program aimed largely at teachers of sciences and social studies, though it would benefit any classroom teacher.
Seesaw Ambassador. A program for this learning management system that requires you to update yearly. (I respect programs that require some basic recertification process)
Adobe Education Exchange. (click the 'Learn' tab) A range of courses using Adobe products. Some are free, some are cost-bearing. You’ll have to have the products to complete the training.
Flipped Learning International Ambassadors. A program with different levels that gets deep into the flipped learning model.
Certified BrainPOP Educator Program. (online course registration link is here) On-site and online certification programs. BrainPop travels around with certification workshops, but you can apply for the online course and they express that when the next cohort comes up they’ll get in touch. Just fill out the Google Form.
Blue Ribbon Educator (Tynker Coding for Kids). See other types of Tynker training on offer here. A platform based on coding for kids. You’ll have to have access to the platform.
Google Certified Educator (Level 1 and Level 2), Google Certified Innovator, Google Certified Education Trainer *see the entire Google for Education Training Center landing page). These are all time intensive, but highly valuable. I recommend any educator to do the Google certifications to whatever level they aspire to. You will become a Google apps ninja and have access to several learning communities. For the GCI training, you will have to travel and do a couple of days of training. There are three to four cohorts per year. If your aim is to build your PLN, joining any of these (or more than one) will be the quickest way to meet a lot of people.
Apple Teacher. This is also valuable, particularly if you are using Apple devices and apps in your classroom. There are modules based on creating content, which I believe is a very important thing for teachers to learn to do. (and model for our students) This is not so time intensive, but worthwhile. *Update: thanks @Dan_Ferreira_Jp for the suggestion to like Swift Playgrounds in the Apple Teacher program, for those who are keen about coding. (we should all get an understanding of coding!)
Apple Distinguished Educator. This is only open every two years, and like the Google Certified Innovator program, quite competitive. It is more competitive and, in fact, quite exclusive. This has its pros and cons. Your Apple PLN will be much smaller than your Google PLN, but likely to have more engagement with specific individuals. It is a good program, particularly if you are using Apple devices and apps in your classroom. You will have to travel and do a few days of training.
Microsoft Innovative Educator. A series of badges and points using Microsoft applications.
*TED-Ed did have a TED-Ed Innovative Educators program, so keep your eye out for an update!