Don't tell me that hiring isn't broken

    Despite the great work being done around Open Recognition, the main use case for digital credentials remains helping people get jobs. Which means that I’ve spent over a decade, on and off, being forced to think about the interface between people wanting to be hired, and those who want to hire those people.

    This article talks about job seekers using AI tools to automate applications. In the example given, the system used sent 5,000 applications on behalf of someone, which landed them 20 interviews. They’d previously got the same number of interviews from manually applying to 200-300 jobs, but it was a lot less work.

    Credentials are always a form of arms race if we’re always stacking them vertically like the sheets of paper in the image below. Open Recognition allows us to think about a more wide-ranging set of skills, but it requires people in HR departments to think differently. Sometimes it’s about quality over quantity.

    Many job seekers will understand the allure of automating applications. Slogging through different applicant tracking systems to reenter the same information, knowing that you are likely to be ghosted or auto-rejected by an algorithm, is a grind, and technology hasn’t made the process quicker. The average time to make a new hire reached an all-time high of 44 days this year, according to a study across 25 countries by the talent solutions company AMS and the Josh Bersin Company, an HR advisory firm. “The fact that this tool exists suggests that something is broken in the process,” Joseph says. “I see it as taking back some of the power that’s been ceded to the companies over the years.”

    Recruiters are less enamored with the idea of bots besieging their application portals. When Christine Nichlos, CEO of the talent acquisition company People Science, told her recruiting staff about the tools, the news raised a collective groan. She and some others see the use of AI as a sign that a candidate isn’t serious about a job. “It’s like asking out every woman in the bar, regardless of who they are,” says a recruiting manager at a Fortune 500 company who asked to remain anonymous because he wasn’t authorized to speak on behalf of his employer.

    Other recruiters are less concerned. “I don’t really care how the résumé gets to me as long as the person is a valid person,” says Emi Dawson, who runs the tech recruiting firm NeedleFinder Recruiting. For years, some candidates have outsourced their applications to inexpensive workers in other countries. She estimates that 95 percent of the applications she gets come from totally unqualified candidates, but she says her applicant tracking software filters most of them out—perhaps the fate of some of the 99.5 percent of Joseph’s LazyApply applications that vanished into the ether.

    Source: AI bots can do the grunt work of filling out job applications for you | Ars Technica

    Modular learning and credentialing

    I’ve got far more to say about this than the space I’ve got here on Thought Shrapnel. This article from edX is in the emerging paradigm exemplified by initiatives such as Credential As You Go, which encourages academic institutions to issue smaller credentials or badges as the larger qualification progresses.

    That’s one, important, side of the reason I got involved in Open Badges. It allows, for example, someone who couldn’t finish their studies to continue them, or to cash in what they’ve already learned in the job market.

    But there’s an important other side to this, which is democratising the means of credentialing, so that it’s no longer just incumbents who issue badges and credentials. I feel like that’s what we’re working on with Open Recognition.

    A new model, modular education, reduces the cycle time of learning, partitioning traditional learning packages — associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees — into smaller, Lego-like building blocks, each with their own credentials and skills outcomes. Higher education institutions are using massive open online courses (MOOCs) as one of the vehicles through which to deliver these modular degrees and credentials.


    Modular education reduces the cycle time of learning, making it easier to gain tangible skills and value faster than a full traditional degree. Working professionals can learn new skills in shorter amounts of time, even while they work, and those seeking a degree can do so in a way that pays off, in skills and credentials, along the way rather than just at the end.

    For example, edX’s MicroBachelors® programs are the only path to a bachelor’s degree that make you job ready today and credentialed along the way. You can start with the content that matters most to you, online at your own pace, and earn a certificate with each one to show off your new achievement, knowing that you’ve developed skills that companies actually hire for. Each program comes with real, transferable college credit from one of edX’s university credit partners, which combined with previous credit you may have already collected or plan to get in the future, can put you on a path to earning a full bachelor’s degree.

    Source: Stackable, Modular Learning: Education Built for the Future of Work | edX

    Microcast #98 — Endorsement

    The introduction to some thoughts on endorsement using Open Badges and Verifiable Credentials within networks of trust.

    Show notes

    Image: Unsplash

    Digital wallets for verifiable credentials

    Purdue University had something like this almost a decade ago, but there’s even more call for this kind of thing now, post-pandemic and in a Verifiable Credentials landscape.

    Everyone’s addicted to marrying ‘skills’ with ‘jobs’ but I think there’s definitely an Open Recognition aspect to all of this.

    ASU Pocket captures students’ traditional and non-traditional educational credentials, which are now, with the emergence of verifiable credentials, more portable than ever before. This gives students the autonomy to securely own, control and share their holistic evidence of learning with employers.

    A digital wallet, like ASU Pocket, holds verifiable credentials – which are digital representations of real-world credentials like government-issued IDs, passports, driver’s licenses, birth certificates, educational degrees, professional certifications, awards, and so on. In the past, these credentials have been stored in physical form, making them susceptible to fraud and loss. However, with advances in technology, these credentials can be stored electronically, using cryptographic techniques to ensure their authenticity. This makes it possible to verify the credential without revealing sensitive information, such as a social security number.


    At ASU Pocket, we also view verifiable credentials as an important tool for social impact. They provide a way for people to document their skills and accomplishments, which can be used to gain new opportunities. For example, someone with a verifiable skill credential for customer service might be able to use it to get a job in a call center. Likewise, someone with a verifiable credential for computer programming might be able to use it to get a job as a software developer.

    In both cases, the verifiable credential provides a way for the individual to demonstrate their skills and qualifications gained through or outside of traditional learning pathways. This is especially impactful for marginalized groups who may have difficulty obtaining traditional credentials, such as degrees or certifications.

    Source: ASU Pocket: A digital wallet to capture learners’ real-time achievements

    Ungrading the university experience

    There’s some discussion of students ‘gaming the system’ in this article about ungrading university courses, but nothing much about AI tools like ChatGPT. This movement has been gathering pace for years, and I think that we’re at a tipping point.

    Hopefully, this will lead to more Open Recognition practices rather than just breaking down chunky credentials into microcredentials.

    [A]dvocates say the most important reason to adopt un-grading is that students have become so preoccupied with grades, they aren't actually learning.

    “Grades are not a representation of student learning, as hard as it is for us to break the mindset that if the student got an A it means they learned,” said Jody Greene, special adviser to the provost for educational equity and academic success at UCSC, where several faculty are experimenting with various forms of un-grading.

    If a student already knew the material before taking the class and got that A, “they didn’t learn anything,” said Greene. And “if the student came in and struggled to get a C-plus, they may have learned a lot.”


    [S]everal colleges and universities… already practice unconventional forms of grading. At Reed College in Oregon, students aren’t shown their grades so that they can “focus on learning, not on grades,” the college says. Students at New College of Florida complete contracts establishing their goals, then get written evaluations about how they’re doing. And students at Brown University in Rhode Island have a choice among written evaluations that only they see, results of “satisfactory” or “no credit,” and letter grades — A, B or C, but no D or F.

    MIT has what it calls “ramp-up grading” for first-year students. In their first semesters, they get only a “pass,” without a letter; if they don’t pass, no grade is recorded at all. In their second semesters, they get letter grades, but grades of D and F are not recorded on their transcripts.

    Source: Some colleges are eliminating freshman grades by ‘ungrading’ | NPR