Why We Partnered with the Center for Academic Innovation for the First Synchronous Online Certificate Program Offered by the School of Education

Liz Kolb, Ph.D., Clinical Associate Professor of Education Technology
Liz Kolb, Ph.D., Clinical Associate Professor of Education Technology

Liz Kolb, Ph.D., Clinical Associate Professor of Education Technology


Despite the abundance of technology tools available in K-12 schools, most educators have little understanding of how to effectively integrate digital tools into their classroom teaching so that it provides a value-added to learning.

K-12 teachers need more research-informed guidance on how to successfully integrate technology into their teaching and learning. Furthermore, K-12 school administrators struggle to assess the potential educational value of technology they are purchasing and bringing into the school. As a result, more and more K-12 teachers and administrators are requesting robust hands-on virtual professional learning experiences where they are encouraged to embed research-based practices into their classroom instruction and/or school administration around educational technologies. Furthermore, educators are also interested in connecting with educators across the globe to network about practices with educational technology.

As a result of these aforementioned needs, myself and a team of educational technology instructors in the School of Education set forth to develop an interactive online learning program for practicing K-12 teachers and administrators to help them design innovative practices and make research-informed choices with education technology.

Our team wanted to create cohorts of K-12 educators from across the globe that could share experiences with other educators on educational technology. Consequently, the best online learning environment was one that would allow synchronous collaboration and interactive activities to occur. We found very few models of high quality two-way, synchronous online learning to draw upon. Knowing the Center for Academic Innovation seeks to make the University of Michigan’s “world-class learning experiences accessible at scale and to create new models for global, engaged, and lifelong learning experiences for students at the University of Michigan and around the world,” we felt it would be beneficial to team up with Academic Innovation to create this brand new online learning professional learning experience, the “Advanced Education Technology Certificate Program (AETP).”

The AETP program will be accessible to a large number of K-12 educators across the globe, and we hope it will ultimately create research-informed and impactful decision-making around educational technology worldwide. Working with the experts at Academic Innovation allowed us to glean their expertise in online learning and the innovative pedagogy of teaching online.

The development of the AETP online learning experience was completed in September 2019 and is a competency-based educational technology certificate that aligns with the international standards in technology education (ISTE Standards for Educators). The program is 100% online, integrating interactive activities in every virtual session and bi-weekly synchronous meet ups with K-12 teachers and administrators from across the globe.

The AETP program will develop educators who can use educational technologies for teaching and learning in meaningful and transformative ways. This program redefines how to professionally prepare teachers in learning to use educational technology by also including school administrators in the learning experience alongside the teachers. Teachers and administrators will work collaboratively through the lens of a valid and reliable research-informed framework on technology in learning (developed at the University of Michigan), allowing for shared understandings and rich discussions from administrative and teaching perspectives. In addition, the educators will connect the internationally recognized ISTE competencies to their own K-12 classrooms and school communities, thus creating lessons and professional development projects around their school’s particular needs and demographics.

The AETP has a strong focus on pedagogy and instructional design principles to enhance learning goals when using educational technology. Once educators complete the 45-hour program, they will have developed a rich portfolio meeting all the ISTE Standards for Educators and will earn a certificate in Advanced Education Technology from the U-M School of Education.The first cohort of K-12 teachers and administrators began the program in January 2020. The program was designed so that is offered to students at the University of Michigan who are in teaching placements and K-12 educators who are not students at U-M.

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