One of the best aspects about my current project working on a Creative Commons Certification is that the timeline for the project extends to September 2017… in other places, I’d be in some fats track to build something or pick a technology, and I’d be in some frantic grasping at PersonalizedAPIBlockchainBedgeBots.

Soon, very soon, I hope to have the platform to begin the open sharing of the project’s development; we have a commitment to do this in a Crazy open method, so much that it inspired a deliberately ironic 4 letter acronym for the Open Education 2016 Conference in November. Meanwhile, by blog will, and always will, be the fertilized garden raw open sewage of ideas.

A certification carries some (or ought to) weight of assuredness, validity. A lot of the technical infrastructures in play seem to focus on the validity of the thing being issued, that one can count on that badge/thing being definitely issued by an authority and not just ad hominenly chained together.

But that is verifying a transaction. I am more interested in the thing having some value.

Why would something from Creative Commons have a value? Is it because of some cryptic encoded 9000 bit hash string that cannot be cracked? No, it’s because we have trust in Creative Commons as an organization, one built layer by layer over time by experiences. That there are people we trust that trust them. That they, as an organization, have a long and visible track record of doing good work in the world.

Saying it is “just reputation” is true, but it is also looking at a beautiful stone monolith in the Canyonlands country, and saying “it is just a bunch of sand grains”.

So if Creative Commons (the organization) (as if I can really speak for them) is going to put their name on certifying people have a reasonable knowledge/application understanding/practice of Creative Commons, then they want to be just as sure that a system granting these is not to cranking out certificates willy nilly.

At the same time, doing something that that has this kind of validation, in the certification processes we have been looking at, can be labor intense, that there is a review layer that is hard to automate. And people would like (I think) to go through some kind of process that is perhaps part or all online, that can be done relatively quickly, AND has meaning. That’s a lot.

A lot of certification is done by examination. A lot.

Let’s take a diversion.

This morning I am reading some web sites about dog training, and one of them, at the end of the “content” offered a link to “take a quiz and earn a Certification of Attendance!” (the exclamation mark is critical). I land on this site ProProfs that offers quiz/training tools– “1,214,000+ businesses, educators and students trust our tools for building & testing knowledge!”.

There are smiling, happy clip art perfect people taking quizzes!

Getting quizzed and tested could not look more fun!

Getting quizzed and tested could not look more fun!

One of their types of “solutions” was labeled “Certifications” and there is even a bit of a sampler you can take (I give them credit for the demos).

I took a Horticulture Certification Quiz, and no surprise, having missed all the classes, that in my 5 item quiz, I got only 20% correct. But there is a certificate:


Would this certification mean a whole lot more if the number was 100%? Would it mean a whole lot more if it had the name and seal of Creative Commons on it? (that’s rhetorical).

But let’s say it does mean something- what is this approach showing I can do? Here are my results:

Details of my IHA certification quiz (click to see the challenges I faced)

Details of my IHA certification quiz (click to see the challenges I faced)

Okay, this is just a demo. But I have waded through some online certifications that have quizzes at this level. Asking some recall type questions might be able to show that I have waded through some body of content, but what we truly are certifying here is my ability to recall information on a quiz.


There is a body of work (out there somewhere, I am not going looking for it) on how to design multiple choice exams that are above the level if fact recall, that do demonstrate some reasoning skills. Why are so few quizzes done this way? (that is rhetorical too).


This is not going where you think it is. I can see a certain bit of foundational knowledge of Creative Commons- the history, the rationale, the variety of licenses, that might be provided by some series of readings, videos, small activities, and yes, tested somehow with a multiple choice type exam. Maybe it it augmented by some individual provided links to demonstrations of their work in the world, showing their application of Creative Commons ethos and practice.

What if rather than saying Creative Commons is certifying me in these areas, what if the system allowed me some ways to assert it myself, to say, “I understand and apply Creative Commons”? This is something that could be done in a self-paced mode, that people could earn some kind of validation of their assertion. A-Cert oneself? For many people this would serve their purpose to have some kind of credit thing earned. It does not guarantee any review from Creative Commons, except sanctioning the process. They are not assuring the world that everyone who passes is some kind of expert, but that if they did all the stuff that are in its requirements, then the person out to be proficient.

Then what would be a Creative Commons certification would build on this, a series of perhaps face to face, or hybrid, or facilitated online sessions of higher level practice, that would have a layer of review (and/or peer review). This might be something that carries a small fee for review, or some pay as you see fit model, because the review part takes time of people. Or there is another level of certification for trainers, that requires a performance review.

I see a multi-tiered approach to this certification– but to have value, real value, it has to be done on something that is a meaningful and performance-based activities. That is worth certifying.

Top / Featured Image: I began by searching Google Images (with the settings for licensed for re-use, of course, of course) on the word “assert” just curious to see what showed up. It was one of the more inexplicable collections I have seen, and for some reason, a lot of photos of what looks like castle turrets.

I clicked on the page option for this image I used, and landed on the Wikpedia page for San Andrés, an Olmec archaeological site on the Mexican gulf coast, right in the “crook” of the arm. This image is a drawing made by user “Madman2001” of a print on a cylinder seal, and the bird figure is “speaking” something that includes the glyph of “3 Ajaw” (this is the thing with 3 beaks, rings, above what looks like the letter C and a backwards E).

I don;t know why i am digging this deep into the background of an image, but that’s happens when you have curiosity. The entire image source is a Creative Commons licensed Wikimedia Commons image

Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.

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