Microsoft Certified Educator improves education and technology ties

This new certification teaches educators how to effectively use the link between learning and Microsoft technology in the classroom.

In May 2013, Microsoft put educators squarely into its certification crosshairs as it introduced the Microsoft Certified Educator credential. While the program's ostensible purpose is to provide professional development opportunities to educators who use computing in their work, there's no denying that almost all educators who can use technology in the classroom already do so. Technology not only is a surefire tool for grabbing and holding students' attention, but also offers countless ways to enhance and enrich the overall education experience for students.

A key influence on the Microsoft Certified Educator (MCE) credential is the UNESCO ICT Competency Framework for Teachers (ICT-CFT). The acronym ICT stands for Information and Communication Technology. The framework's primary objective is to make sure teachers understand how to make the best and most effective use of technology in the classroom. With that objective comes another -- making sure that teachers are being prepared to convey the information, training and ICT best practices to prepare students to meet specific goals and objectives.

How the MCE program diverges from typical MS cert fare 

With UNESCO's strong influence on the Microsoft Certified Educator credential, it's easy to understand why it's different from other Microsoft Learning credentials. The program is built around a set of self-assessment tools designed to help educators evaluate their skills and knowledge across six content areas that provide the primary basis for the UNESCO ICT-CFT: education policy, ICT and technology tools, curriculum and assessment, organization and administration, pedagogy, and professional development.

Microsoft recommends that school administrators seriously consider integrating MCE certification into their teacher training or professional development programs. In such cases, MS Learning will work with school systems to let them administer and proctor MCE exams on campus. MS Learning will also offer campus licensing options through multiple purchase vehicles designed to meet federal, state and local municipal purchasing guidelines and requirements.

With the exception of Microsoft Office credentials and part of the Microsoft Technology Association (MTA) program, the MCE program differs from the majority of MS certifications. Its exams are handled through Certiport, which serves as the company's authorized MCE exam delivery partner.

Certification on a budget for a cash-strapped profession

Microsoft put together the Partners in Learning program to support the Microsoft Certified Educator exam. After completing the registration process (which works through a Microsoft Live ID and social networking accounts), you can access self-assessment tools for the six content areas discussed earlier and free online training courses that fall under a general heading of Teaching with Technology. Of the six courses offered, high self-assessment scores permit individuals to skip those courses en route to meet the MCE's recommended training coverage. Thirty hours and 20 minutes of free training are available for those who wish to review the underlying content across all six information domains.

After completing those courses, individuals can contact Certiport to sign up for the MCE exam, which is listed as Technology Literacy for Educators: 62-193. The Microsoft in Education Buy and License page is for school districts, boards or other school system entities interested in a volume academic license. Exams cost up to $150 each on an individual basis and may be scheduled at Certiport testing centers. The MCE exam costs $89 and is available through the Certiport All Exam Vouchers page.

You can use the Certiport Authorized Testing Center Locator to find testing centers near you. Select Microsoft Certified Educator for the Program and Version fields under the Select the exam you would like to take heading, where you'll then be able to choose Technology Literacy for Educators: 62-193. More information about this is available on the Certiport Microsoft Certified Educator and the MCE License Type pages.

I taught Microsoft certification topics at a local community college for six years and still volunteer for ICT-related classroom duty at my son's elementary school, so I was curious about how I'd do on the MCE self-assessment. I was pleased to test out of half of those modules. Even so, I need classes for promoting technology literacy, selecting ICT resources to support curriculum outcomes, and technology literacy and professional development to meet the entire training burden -- 12.67 hours out of the total 30.33 hours in the six-course sequence. Those with similar experience and exposure should also be able to reduce their training burdens.

It will be interesting to see if Microsoft gets its wish and sees the Microsoft Certified Educator certification integrated into teacher training or professional development offerings. I'm convinced it's a worthwhile effort for those using Microsoft operating systems or applications in the classroom to investigate its learning materials and to pursue the MCE credential on their own.

About the author:
Ed Tittel is a 30-plus-year IT veteran who's worked as a developer, networking consultant, technical trainer, writer and expert witness. Perhaps best known for creating the Exam Cramseries, Ed has contributed to over 100 books with titles on information security, Windows OSes and HTML. Ed regularly blogs for TechTarget's IT Career Jump Start and Windows Enterprise Desktop blogs, as well as for Tom's IT Pro and PearsonITCertification.com.

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