I’m not a futurist, but I can see about 45 days into the future something new and exciting. And yes, from the image above, this as a “c” and a “c” into it. Do not ask about the symbolism of the cuts on my hand, that was done earlier with a sharp bread knife and a slippery bagel.

Maybe CC will heal that injury.

I’ve had to avoid blogging this for a while, but now I have a green light ok. Starting in mid March this year, I will be starting a long-term project (18 months) as a contractor with Creative Commons. In this time I will be working with a team led by Paul Stacey to develop a Certification in Creative Commons (will that be a “CCC”?).

This got started when I spotted Paul at the Open Education Conference this past November in Vancouver. I’ve known Paul a while back to his BCCampus days and maybe before. I gotta like someone who has a grand photo atop his blog.

So Paul has been to the Grand Canyon, looks like somewhere out near?? Yaki Pont?? It's east of the Grand Canyon Village.

So Paul has been to the Grand Canyon, looks like somewhere out near?? Yaki Pont?? It’s east of the Grand Canyon Village.

Paul writes long form posts with depth AND breadth; like his 2013 piece on Pedagogy of MOOCs (okay some bias as he compliments DS106).

We only chatted briefly between sessions; Paul was super sincere in saying positive things about our UDG Agora presentation. He also said he was interested in talking to me about a possible project.

Would I be interested? In working with Creative Commons? Hell Yeah.

He followed up with a Skype call while I was in Kamloops, and framed broadly the project. A lot of people are interested (some of them organizations offering funding) in having Creative Commons offer a certification in… Creative Commons. If I am getting the info right, this is something that will be done in the open as an OERish thing, with flexibility for whatever its activities are to be tailored to various sectors- libraries, governments, and also so it can be localized in other countries.

This is all very general now since I do not start until March 15. But I have a list of reasons I am excited:

  • After 3+ years of making a humble living on juggling a load of shorter term web design projects, coding projects, speaking, doing workshops, scrubbing toilets, the idea of focusing on one major project for 18 months is very attractive.
  • I can do my work from home. I was gone 75% of 2015. That’s a lot. I lile my home. A lot.
  • Did I mentioned this is with freakin’ Creative Commons? Not only to I get to work with folks from the organization, the project will put me in contexts outside of higher education.

The arrangements I asked for was to work for Creative Commons 80% of my time, which leaves room for other projects, or just goofing off. Heck, I have crazy ideas that I might be able to get a dog!

And the word was in there, and you do not have to spend much brainpower with the word certification to jump the route over to Badges.

I cannot say I get overly excited about badges. But before y’all start gnashing your teeth, Badgers, I will say I fully get why they are of interest. And the work being done is worthwhile.

And people do get excited to get them (well at least here my 3 year old niece does).

And I do not have much direct experience (yet) to be dissing or praising them.

Still, if I say “certification” to educators working in/with edtech, almost always the first word association response is “badges.” And not much else. Oh yeah, this is how it’s done, baking blobs of JSON?

A baked badge is a JSON blob of metadata embedded in a PNG file.

(actually I understand it; a badge is represented by an image, the API infrastructure allows issuers to embed data in the PNG image file)

To me the stuff that can be badged in some kind of networked environment is the stuff that’s easy to do automatically. Multiple choice. Watch a video to the end. Spend X amount of time doing Y (I fully expect someone to say how wrong I am).

And the backpack is a great metaphor… yet when I think of talking to someone with backpack covered with badges…


… I might glance at the colors and names on the badges. But what I want to see is what you pull out of the backpack and show me. Yes, it’s nice that, oh Betty Crocker gave you a badge for your Macaroni and Cheese making, what I really want is to taste your Mac ‘n Cheese and tell more more about your method.

The backpack is nice and worth having, but I really think people should be building their own store room of experiences that actually demonstrate their skills, work, thinking, in the thing they got badged for. Much more than a portfolio.

Getting badged by someone else is an act they do to you; what else are your doing to assert your skills and accomplishments? The question I played with before (intone some Shakespeare here) is To Badge [Yourself] or to Be Badged?.

Like I said, I’m a badge n00b, so this is something I will be looking more deeply into.

This is totally speculative and I did not even need to write all this, it could have been as simple as “News flash, I’m starting in mid March an 18 month contract with an important organization in the area of sharing of digital culture.”

The other thing that Paul told me was that he wanted me to bring a sense of “fun” into the project. I hope he knows what that might mean…

I could go business class

or mystery stranger to their town?

I like this future, palm.

Top / Featured Image: My own photo, a Creative Commons button picked up at some long ago conference (Northern Voice? SXSW?) in my own hand– flickr photo by cogdogblog http://flickr.com/photos/cogdog/24558520871 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

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An early 90s builder of web stuff and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com 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. And he is 100% into the Fediverse (or tells himself so) Tooting as @cogdog@cosocial.ca


  1. Well that’s the last time I let you near the bagels! If I can’t trust a man to cut his bagel, how can I trust the validity of the badges he hands out?!

    But, in all seriousness, this is awesome and major congratulations.

    I really like this idea:
    “The backpack is nice and worth having, but I really think people should be building their own store room of experiences that actually demonstrate their skills, work, thinking, in the thing they got badged for. Much more than a portfolio.”

    And I’ll be interested to see how this gets baked into the projects for a “Badges AND” type approach. We’ve got a little experience noodling around with BadgeOS on WordPress within our team and are fairly fond of its technical capabilities.

  2. Wow. This is just all kinds of awesome. Good on you.
    No one better for such a project for sure.

    Very congratulations.

  3. This is really great news! For one thing, maybe you’ll actually be in Phoenix one of these days when I am there too.

    I don’t care too much (at this point) about the certification/badges/etc mechanisms but am intensely curious what the curriculum, outcomes and activities will look like to be “CC Certified.” I’m looking forward to how imaginative I’m guessing this will be!

  4. Excited to hear this, congrats! And as another sceptic on badges, I’m open to being persuaded if you can make it fun 😉

  5. This is really great news, Alan. If you do get a dog, then I think you need to name him/her “The Badger.” Then you can title workshops “CogDog & The Badger.” It’s magic! I’m a fan of badging for faculty professional development so I’ll know who to bark to with my ideas. Wooooohoooooo! So. Awesome.

  6. Congrats Alan. I will follow with intrigue.
    Wondering if there is a place for linking to experience etc within a badge? I just wonder who would look I guess.

    1. I dunno Aaron, I have more questions than answers.

      I think badge metadata does include external links. My current opinion is not Everything Needs to Be Inside the badge. Build your experiences in your own domain, link to it.

      1. I have been pondering about badges for a while and have been tinkering with the idea of creating a blogging ecosystem for students and staff to learn at their own accord. Each badge would be something of an open-ended question exploring different facets. I had wondered if something like your assignment bank would work as people could also add their own ideas for badges. My concern with this is that receiving 10+ badges around the one topic might become superfluous. However, I did like the idea that those who had already received a podcasting badge could help out others, creating a feeling of community.
        Would love your thoughts and feedback.

  7. Congratulations Alan, sounds like a great gig. They are lucky to have you.
    I’ll be fascinated to see how you approach badges. I’ve listened to an awful lot about them in theory over the last few years.

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