I’ve written this short article as there was literally no articles / blogs that I came across during my prep time for Microsoft Certified Educator (MCE).
So, I had a free voucher and time to complete this relatively unknown (yet fun) Microsoft 3 star exam.
I had seen a couple of LI connections (Richard Wadsworth and Nicholas Tancredi) solidly completing the Microsoft Education learning pathway (for which there’s a ton of badges for modules) and posting their achievements to social media. Liking a challenge (and not realizing how many modules there are), I signed up to sit the exam.
Like a few things that I’ve done, I booked for the exam sitting having completely ran out of prep time. Therefore, this post has a focus toward a “quick-and-dirty” approach to making it through the exam.
What is Microsoft Learning Pathway?
So Microsoft has done a great job assembling resources for teachers and other educators, who are using tech in their ever day teaching roles (surely must be most teaching roles now).
At it’s core is the 21st Century Learning Design (21CLD) approach that Microsoft advocates. 21CLD covers several domains, which includes: collaboration, knowledge construction, self-regulation, real-world innovation and problem-solving, ICT for learning, and Skillful Communication. There are various levels for each, ranging from lowest level (0) to highest (4) across each domain.
Microsoft provides several excellent educational modules like 21st Century Learning Design — Microsoft Educator Center (this is only 1 module by the way) that provide interesting insights and perspectives into the learning approach that is advocated. There are a ton of badges to get for each module (if you’re a pokemon….. sorry… badge-collector). If you’re an educator then likely dozens of treasured learnings as well within their content. Taking into account that the first module 21st CLD contains 20 hours of learning alone, you can imagine there are literally hundreds and hundreds of hours of content that you could learn.
What about the MCE Exam?
Ok — so the thing to know is that you don’t need to cover 100’s of hours of modules to do the exam.
Why? The reason is that the exam actually tests other skills. Yes — you’ll need to know what Minecraft is (especially redstone), but a lot of the content is actually fairly intuitive — if you’ve got some understanding of the role of tech in education then you’ll be fine. I suspect that with the right skills (not even tech skills) that you may be able to pass this with good exam technique alone.
Practice tests and Prep resources
I didn’t come across any practice tests that simulated the exam material, although was told later that Prodigy Learning offers several useful practice tests. Similarly, I didn’t come across any useful blogs/articles describing what is described here :(
-Core pre-requisites skills
The MCE has a few critical pre-requisites that I believe test you outside the 21CLD domain. Some of these things can’t be learned, but might be practiced.
- An ability to manage time efficiently and effectively
- Read quickly
- Think critically
- Be able to interpret both the text and 21CLD matrix
- Be able to put yourself in the shoes of a teacher (or educator)
Things to keep in mind:
- The exam will present you with multiple scenarios.
- Superb time management is needed as there is a lot of material to read.
- You need to factor in that all relevant information will not be in one place, but instead located across different tabs.
The quick-and-dirty approach
With the above in mind, my suggestions are really just this:
- Do the first two lessons for 21 CLD (should take 20 minutes)
- If you can, then memorize the 21st CLD matrix. While not mandatory it will save you an incredible amount of time. Relevant sections of the CLD are usually provided via an in-exam tab.
- Look across the learning pathways to understand what general categories might come up and anything you don’t know then find a wiki summary to get a basic understanding (e.g. Minecraft, One Note, Word etc)
- Know that even if you would have covered every module in the Education pathway that it’s impossible to remember/know everything
- Time-management and critical thinking is important
- Don’t know an answer take an educated guess (exclude what doesn’t look right)
I did this exam as the third consecutive Microsoft exam in a row (yep 3+ hours worth in a single evening). Aside from covering the first two lessons for 21st CLD I’d run out of time as my study time ended up being diverted to the other exams that I was sitting. Rather than give up, I took a pragmatic approach (e.g. let’s think like a teacher) and kept a close eye on the clock. The first question caught me out as I spent a few moments orientating myself to multiple in-exam tabs (not dissimilar to PRINCE2 when I sat) that had lots of content to digest. It took me a few questions to realize that if I kept up my slow rate that I wouldn’t complete the exam. Unlike you, I hadn’t come across a post like this describing the exam. Once I got into the swing of things then things became straight-forward as I overcame the cumbersome in-tab experience. I completed the exam with moments to spare. There were a couple of guesses but these were educated ones. Keeping anxiety under control and a calm mind certainly helped.
Keep in mind that this was my experience — but really I think it is a totally doable approach.
Once again — I wish you the best of luck with this exam! If you don’t get it first shot then try again. What worked for me may not work for you.
The MCE badge certainly piques interest and a great area to cover if you work in education I’m sure :)