Is higher ed finding its ideal in micro-master’s?

It’s a jarring realization that after 9 years of post-high school education, a person can feel stuck. But that’s how I feel sometimes as I consider my professional options. I love what I do as a high school teacher and part time college instructor. Yet, as I sense the education landscape dynamically shifting all around me, I wonder what is next. How can I stay relevant without starting all over with another 3, 4, or 9 years of education?

I am not alone in this question. I know this because I talk with my colleagues, I read articles from others in similar situations; but, most of all, I know I am not alone because institutions are beginning to respond to this question. While it’s intimidating to live in times where technology is transforming your professional world, it’s a joy to live in times when that same technology allows you to transform as well.  New programs are arriving that respond to the needs of a professional class looking to keep up with the rapidly changing times. They are called micro-master’s degrees.

Essentially, universities offer focused coursework through the MOOC platform edX in a given field. My local interest is the University of Michigan’s program on User Experience Research and Design. While I know about education, my understanding of technical course construction is minimal. I would like to become proficient in this area so I can participate in conversations that move beyond theory and into application of new designs. To follow through on my interest, I can register and take 5 courses through edX. Each course is free to take, but there is a cost of approximately $100 to earn a certificate of completion. The courses can stand alone as certification, or I can combine them into a micro-master’s degree. In addition, I can apply to U-M and this micro-master’s contributes to pursuing a full Master’s Degree in a given area of study.…Read More