I’m doing some prep work for next week’s Washington D.C. meeting (first one) for the Creative Commons Certification project I am now working on, where we are tasked at looking at a range of existing certifications, train the trainer programs to “remix” the best features into a possible vision for what we hope to build.

Before I wander into the “exhaust”, one of the things I was charged with is creating a public facing web presence for the project; one of the many reasons I chose the project (besides, “What work for Creative Commons? Heck I’ll fold the t-shirts”) was Paul Stacey’s expressed desire to share the project development openly.

So far, that’s just been my own scattered blog posts — and one of the things I hope to sort when I met the rest of the crew is getting a blog set up at CC HQ. It’s in the works. For now, the main info available is via a post Paul write for the main Creative Commons blog. This will be set in motion soon!

I’ve yet to see everything on my list to review, but hey, I won’t let that stop me form generalizing.

  • A vast majority of certifications are by examination. Meaning machine graded. Meaning multiple choice.
  • Others, or other aspects of what I have seen do involved some kind of portfolio review, but they look like very person intensive review processes (submitting documents, often via email, or committee reviews).

In one system I reviewed today via the Internet of 2016 were screens, design, and interaction that could have been lifted from the multimedia CD-ROMs I remember from the early 1990s. Oh, and the “tests” were true/false questions. Just for fun, I took a test for a section I did not read, and I scored 90%.

Paul has said that he is seeking a certification that is heavily based on “do” a.k.a performance objectives — meaning that people getting a Creative Commons Certification can show via their actions, that they understand and apply the CC principles in their work. There is work then to be done next week re-writing a lot of objectives that are “Explain” / “Describe” / “Understand” (but I leave that for our instructional designers).

But here is an interesting element I hope to toss on the table. It ironically came from a bit of a rant post in late February about the lack of evidence in badge evidence. I got way more out of that then I expected, a ton of great comments to counter my assertion (which I appreciate), an appearance on the Badge Alliance weekly call, and some new colleagues to bounce ideas off of.

One that really paid off was via a guy named Dave Potter who connected me with Mark Otter (so poetic, eh?) about work Mark’s firm has done with international education / professional development in the Houston Independent School District:


This first led me to some info via EdSurge So You Want to Drive Instruction With Digital Badges? Start With the Teachers about the work the company Mark works for, VIF International Education:

Participating teachers advance through a series of inquiry-based professional development modules. Teachers are awarded a digital badge for the successful completion of each 10-hour module. To accomplish this, they must complete the following steps: 1) study module content, 2) participate in a focused discussion with peers working on the same module, 3) create an original inquiry-based global lesson plan that incorporates new learning, 4) implement the original lesson plan in the classroom, 5) provide evidence of classroom implementation and 6) reflect on and revise the lesson created.

The final product of every module is a tested, global lesson plan that articulates learning objectives, activities, assessments, and resources for each stage of inquiry. Upon completion, teachers may publish finalized lessons in a resource library where they can be accessed by other educators.

The thing that caught me was that badges were not a magic bullet nor a destination, but one piece in a thought out professional development program that included peer evaluation. It’s not whether Badges = Good or Badges = Bad, but what is the context in which they are used?

Mark was kind enough to share some time with me in a Skype call, and shared some information about a new tool that are developing (a winner of the DML Trust Challenge, and he said that meant it would be open-sourced) that features a way of doing peer evaluation.

Am impression I got was they designed something that called for a lot of submission of evidence, which means it becomes a huge task for the credential provider to review it. Peer review is a way to lessen that load, and potentially, provide useful feedback from peers.

Half expecting a vendor-ish type conversation, I was nicely proved wrong in a great conversation with Mark that indicates to me that VIF is a company worth spending time getting to know, where “pedagogy” does not appear to be a marketing buzzword. Color me refreshed.

Anyhow, this is a long way to get to this nugget idea, mentioned in the EdSurge piece, and something Mark showed me in a screen shared demo.

So it’s this- in examinations, or portfolios to get some certification, the purpose of the exam questions and the portfolio is aimed at the certification as an endpoint. All the work that is done for it, well it goes into a file somewhere.

What I saw (I think) in what Mark showed me is that the activities, the “do” the HISD teachers (and for that matter the other schools VIF works with), the things that teachers work on for their professional development are not submitted, checked off, and forgotten (the Wiley Disposable Assignment), but they go into a resource library that other teachers can use, benefit from.

So what I am wondering is, if in the stuff we ask people do to get a Creative Commons certification, that it be something that benefits the growth and quality of CC licensed / shared materials? Maybe people can help be, as what in another call I had with Bryan Mathers (that’s another blog post), “Defenders of the Commons”? Can the exhaust of things done to get a certification improve the body of CC licensed materials?

If we ask people to do things related to being certified in the application of CC, let’s do something with those things?

Or am I just blogging in circles, chasing my tail?

Top / Featured Image : This one was easy… a search on Google Images (licensed for reuse, ‘natch) for “exhaust” got all kinds of fancy and not so fnacy exhaust pipes on cars, trucks, motorcycles. I opted for the flickr photo by pmarkham https://flickr.com/photos/pmarkham/14625259690 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) 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. What a great project! As you suggest, it’s hard to imagine certification in CC licensing that doesn’t include working out in the open, playing with the licenses and interacting with a networked community–all part of the end game and all part of learner engagement that integrates and applies knowledge in meaningful contributions.
    I wouldn’t necessarily toss out the idea of using M/C questions altogether, and I say this as someone who generally tries to avoid that format. In specific situations M/C can do some of the grunty work of providing automated feedback for practice exercises as well as certification testing beyond content regurgitation for certain aspects of the knowledge and skill domain. Many M/C questions can be generated from a cluster of well-constructed simulations, “mini scenarios” or case studies that progressively increase in complexity…for example, using M/C to select (or experiment with) combinations of licenses in X scenarios, or figuring out in which settings license X vs license Y applies, and so on. These can present realistic problems that require careful thinking and analysis. With large numbers of participants, this may lighten the high-touch assessment load for the program and for peer and other such assessments.
    It’s all in the design, and I think this can still fit in with Paul Stacey’s intent to “…have assessments be 100% performance-based, testing people on their ability to use Creative Commons in applied and practical ways.” https://blog.creativecommons.org/2016/04/05/open-community-call-help-us-build-creative-commons-certificates/
    One other thing…according to the Internet there are approximately one quarter of a million verbs in the English language. I am delighted to see the project expand beyond “describe, define, explain” and other such Bloom-infected learny-teachy verbs. With a little care and nurturing, well-designed learning challenges will self-disclose their preferred “DO” verbs quite readily.

  2. Hi,
    trying to make something from my notes about the same project and your post helped me a lot 🙂
    Last two courses on OER for teachers we did in Poland, we’ve tried mixing M/C, peer review on forums and activity during webinars. The goal was to examine if teachers can “curate, create and defend/justify their choices/remixes of OER to other teachers”. We, as moderators, were focused more on helping during the discussion not reviewing the answers, though we were missing some easy tool to track all activities by participants across forum and places were they created content (hashtags maybe?).
    For CC Certificate as it’s goal is to certify proficiency not only in CC but in teaching specific groups about CC, I imagine it will need some personal way of examination or supervision as well.

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