Monday, August 17, 2015

Have you registered you badge?

When the Rhizo Team (well a subset of the Rhizo team) and I worked on the article Writing the Unreadable Untext for Hybrid Pedagogy we used Wordsworth's phrase “We murder to dissect”. If memory serves me right it was Sarah H. that initially brought this idea forward....or was it Keith? † That's the beauty of swarm writing, individual credit evaporates and it's what we accomplish together that feeds back to us as individuals.

In any case, it is this phrase that came to mind as I was reading a story on Campus Technology titled New Registry Will Demystify Badges, Credentials and Degrees, where the main crux of the story is that academia and industry are teaming up to create a registry with the intent of demystifying the value of different degrees, credentials, certifications, and so on. From the new story:
The registry "will allow users to easily compare the quality and value of workforce credentials, such as college degrees and industry certifications, using a Web-based system with information provided directly by the institutions issuing the credentials,"
This raised a bit of an eyebrow.  The first thing that came to mind is how much will this cost, and what is the ultimate benefit?  I am not talking about the cost of setting up the system, but rather, much like going gambling in Vegas, how much will it cost individual credentialing agents to be part of that conversation.  For example, let's assume that I run a training center where I train individuals on Microsoft Windows Server, or Active Directory.  I already give out a certificate of participation for those who make it and go through the steps, but I also want to give out badges - some more granular than others. Who will add those credentials to the registry? Is it me? or it is someone else?  Who vets those credentials?  Is there a system of peer review or can you just take my word?  And, how much does it cost to be listed?  The reason cost seems to come to mind is that for online programs, some states (such as Alabama, Arkansas, Maryland, and Minnesota) you need to be registered with the state, which costs money to register, and in some cases you need to place a collateral to be registered (I guess in case someone sues you).

My point is, how fair would such a system be?  Would it really demystify alternative credentialing or will it just re-enforce the existing power structures that we have with academia and professional organizations as credentialing bodies?  Isn't the point of an alternative credential that we are not working within the existing power structures and are looking for valuable alternatives to the way we do things now?  Do we murder our own initiatives in order to "demystify" them and compare them 1:1 with what already exists in the system?

Your thoughts?

† Sarah H. informs me that it was Maha who brought up the quote :)
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