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Podcast: Paperless Professional Development for Teachers


The Northeast Regional Education Services Alliance (NERESA), serves 15 rural counties in North Carolina. Coordinating various school districts, Paul Huggins, director of instructional technology for Beaufort County Schools, has introduced “paperless” professional development to K-12 teachers. Listen to how he has found digital credentials to be beneficial to teachers.


Susan Manning:                   Welcome to the Credly Podcast, where we touch base with our issuers, earners and partners and explore themes of interest in digital credentialing. I'm Susan Manning.

                                                      Today I'm talking with Paul Huggins, the Director of Instructional Technology for Beaufort County Schools which is in North Carolina, not to be confused with South Carolina. But Paul is representing a larger entity in this conversation, and that is NERESA. So, first of all, welcome, Paul.

Paul Huggins:                        Hey, Susan. How are you?

Susan Manning:                   Good. I'm delighted to talk to you today about what you describe as Paperless PD. So, Paperless Professional Development for K12 teachers, but I want to take a step back, tell me about the regional organization that you're working with, NERESA.

Paul Huggins:                        It's the Northeast Educational Association of North Carolina, it represents 15 counties in the Northeastern part of the state. We also represent a very rural population and some counties are quite small in population when it comes to students.

Susan Manning:                   So, what are your challenges in terms of professional development?

Paul Huggins:                        Challenges, get high quality professional development for our teachers and try to ship that professional development to professional learning, which means the difference between the two is one's ongoing and one's like a sit and get. We try to get away from sit and gets and try to promote a mindset in which the teachers will not only learn from us, but they'll continue that learning and seek out more learning. One way to do that is to motivate them and I think that's where the credly badges come in, and the digital badging system.

Susan Manning:                   Talk us through the development of that because currently you have an enterprise with six different school districts participating.

Paul Huggins:                        Correct. Each school district is in charge of their own professional development, own professional learning. Each school district has their own credly master that issues badges through the authorization and the accreditation of the NERESA itself. Is that what you're asking me [inaudible 00:02:21]?

Susan Manning:                   Yes.

Paul Huggins:                        Okay.

Susan Manning:                   So, let's take one of the districts, for instance, Dare County. They go about setting up their professional development and how does NERESA endorse that, or do they, do they pass it through NERESA?

Paul Huggins:                        Yes, it is passed through NERESA, it comes through our enterprise and it gets the stamp of approval for the entire 15 county region when it goes through. So, that's the authority in which they are issuing that particular credit, that continuing education credit or what we call in this state, digital learning credits in which is the technology credit is aligned to [inaudible 00:03:03] four digital learning competencies, which would be leadership, digital content, digital citizenship or data and assessment.

Susan Manning:                   If I'm a teacher and I go through this, what does earning that credential do for me?

Paul Huggins:                        It is the proof that I did the required continuing education credit to renew my licensure.

Susan Manning:                   Okay. That's a pretty powerful motivator.

Paul Huggins:                        Yes. In this state, we need two technology credits which is 20 contact hours.

Susan Manning:                   Initially, the plan was to roll this out to students as well, but you shared some thoughts with me, I'd like you to share that with the audience, when it comes to getting teachers to offer badges to students, what happened or what are your thoughts?

Paul Huggins:                        Well, whenever I'm introducing any technology or any kind of new concept, I want my teachers and my staff and my administration to be thoroughly familiar with it before the students get their hands on it. So, I thought it'd better to model for the teachers here in Beaufort County and also then that caught on to other counties doing the same thing and it kind of grew from that. I want to make sure that all the teachers are familiar with it, know how to use it before the concept is carried on to the students in part of their continuing education.

Susan Manning:                   What kind of feedback have you gotten from your teachers?

Paul Huggins:                        Everybody that's using it likes it. It is, especially in human resources, they come in ... Let me just explain to you first how it works. When I'm doing a professional learning session course I align it with one of the four DLCs, but they come in, they digitally sign in, and when they digitally sign in they receive their professional credit that way and after they go through the session, and then at the end, instead of having to sign in with a sheet of paper and take that paper over here and scan it and email it, I simply just export that into credly which automatically issue some badge to a CSV. Then the badges go automatically out to each person's credly account and then I take that CSV and just copy that to the HR department which accredit the licensure with that many particular hour. So, they have it in the cloud form, they have it mobile form, and they have it stored in the human resource. It makes it run so much smoother.

Susan Manning:                   That's pretty slick. Where do you want to go next? What do you want to do with it in the future?

Paul Huggins:                        Well, what we'd like to do is to add this to part of accreditation for our students whenever they receive some [inaudible 00:05:37] form of accreditation whether it be in Microsoft or Mac or some other form that they would get not only the certification that still the ancient paper, they would also, we would still give them an authorization through NERESA that they were given that credit and learn that credential. I think that would be valuable to take with them as they go especially with millennials, everything is on mobile phone and they move and they don't keep paperwork like what us old timers do. They would have that mobile access to their credentials at any time at the touch of a button.

Susan Manning:                   Perfect. Well, thank you for sharing the story with me. This podcast series is intended to inspire others and we'll let them know that if they have questions, they can reach out to you.

Paul Huggins:                        Well, it sounds great. Thank you for thinking about me.

Susan Manning:                   Yes. Thanks. Thank you listeners for joining us. If you'd like to suggest upcoming topics, feel free to write us at