A fantastical battlefield where traditional educational gatekeepers, depicted as towering structures, face off against rebels wielding glowing Open Badges and alternative credentials, using them to break through barriers, highlighted in shades of gray, red, yellow, and blue.

If you’ll excuse me for a brief rant, I have three, nested, issues with this ‘global mapping initiative’ from Credential Engine’s Credential Transparency Initiative. The first is situating micro-credentials as “innovative, stackable credentials that incrementally document what a person knows and can do”. No, micro-credentials, with or without the hyphen, are a higher education re-invention of Open Badges, and often conflate the container (i.e. the course) with the method of assessment (i.e. the credential).

Second, the whole point of digital credentials such as Open Badges is to enable the recognition of a much wider range of things that formal education usually provides. Not to double-down on the existing gatekeepers. This was the point of the Keep Badges Weird community, which has morphed into Open Recognition is for Everybody (ORE).

Third, although I recognise the value of approaches such as the Bologna Process, initiatives which map different schemas against one another inevitably flatten and homogenise localised understandings and ways of doing things. It’s the educational equivalent of Starbucks colonising cities around the world.

So I reject the idea at the heart of this, other than to prop up higher education institutions which refuse to think outside of the very narrow corner into which they have painted themselves by capitulating to neoliberalism. Credentials aren’t “less portable” because there is no single standardised definitions. That’s a non sequitur. If you want a better approach to all this, which might be less ‘efficient’ for institutions, but which is more valuable for individuals, check out Using Open Recognition to Map Real-World Skills and Attributes.

Because micro-credentials have different definitions in different places and contexts, they are less portable, because it’s harder to interpret and apply them consistently, accurately, and efficiently.

The Global Micro-Credential Schema Mapping project helps to address this issue by taking different schemas and frameworks for defining micro-credentials and lining them up against each other so that they can be compared. Schema mapping involves crosswalking the defined terms that are used in data structures. The micro-credential mapping does not involve any personally identifiable information about people or the individual credentials that are issued to them– the mapping is done across metadata structures. This project has been initially scoped to include schema terms defining the micro-credential owner or offeror, issuer, assertion, and claim.

Source: Credential Engine

Image: DALL-E 3