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Building a Bridge of Trust: Three Pillars of the 1EdTech Digital Credentials Ecosystem

At 1EdTech, we understand the evolving landscape of education and the growing need for flexible, verifiable credentials that capture a learner's entire journey, from K-12 to college and career. The three pillars of digital credentials—Open Badges 3.0, Comprehensive Learner Record Standard (CLR Standard) 2.0, and Competencies and Academic Standards Exchange® (CASE®)—form the foundation for a trusted and interoperable ecosystem that empowers learners and unlocks new opportunities.

Let's explore how these three pillars work together and their significance:

Pillar 1: CASE - The Standardized Exchange Format for Skills, Competencies, and Academic Standards

Imagine a world where learning standards, competencies, and skills are communicated across platforms, applications, and organizations. CASE provides a standard way to exchange information about academic standards, skills, and competencies, transforming the curriculum frameworks into both human and machine-readable formats. The CASE format enables seamless integration and provides data to align learning materials and badges to specific academic standards and competencies.

Technical Deep Dive: CASE utilizes the JSON format and its Globally Unique Identifiers (GUIDs) to metatag standards and skills. By embedding CASE GUIDs in Open Badges and CLRs, learners and issuing organizations can ensure their achievements clearly map to skills, competencies, and academic standards. This mapping facilitates automated validation and comparison across different learning contexts. 

Learner Impact: CASE ensures a learner’s achievements are understood and valued regardless of when, where, or how they earned them. CASE ensures learners can document and communicate how their skills align with specific job requirements or academic programs, opening doors to new opportunities.

Pillar 2: Open Badges 3.0 - The Visible Recognition

Open Badges are the visual tokens of achievement, easily shared and displayed in wallets, on resumes, websites, and social media. The latest version of the standard offers enhanced security and flexibility, adopting W3C’s Verifiable Credentials (VCs) standard to ensure tamper-proof validation. Issuers can embed rich metadata describing the achievement, criteria, evidence, and even linked learning resources.

Technical Deep Dive: Open Badges 3.0 utilizes JSON-LD format for data storage. Using CASE to link published skills, competency, and academic standard frameworks to badge metadata is crucial for linking achievements to specific learning standards. This allows employers and institutions to gain greater context to the knowledge and skills represented in the badge in a machine-readable format, facilitating accurate competency assessments.

Learner Impact: With Open Badges 3.0, learners gain a visual representation of their accomplishments, showcasing their skills and expertise to potential employers or additional education institutions. They control the sharing of their badges and the valuable data within, empowering them to curate and present their learning journey on their terms.

Pillar 3: CLR Standard 2.0 - The Comprehensive Narrative

Imagine a personal learning portfolio that goes beyond traditional transcripts. CLR Standard 2.0 acts as a secure container for all learning experiences, including badges, courses, certifications, and even informal learning activities. This holistic record paints a detailed picture of a learner's skills, knowledge, and progress over time.

Technical Deep Dive: The CLR Standard 2.0 also utilizes Verifiable Credentials (VCs), ensuring secure and verifiable data exchange. Issuers can contribute various learning data to a learner's CLR, with their consent, building a detailed record across institutions and platforms. Integrating CASE links allows the learner, issuer, or receiver to align learning experiences with relevant academic standards, competencies, and skills frameworks, adding contextual richness to the CLR.

Learner Impact: CLRs empower learners with ownership of their learning history. They can share curated snippets of their CLR with potential employers or institutions, tailoring their narrative to specific opportunities. This comprehensive record demonstrates transferable skills and lifelong learning journeys, highlighting their diverse skill sets.

Combining the Pillars: A Synergistic Powerhouse

Open Badges showcase achievements, CLR paints the narrative, and CASE helps provide the context through linked data (identifiers to the CASE frameworks). The combined power of these pillars creates a trusted, interoperable ecosystem for digital credentials. Imagine a learner earning an Open Badge for completing a microcredential aligned with specific CASE academic standards, competencies, or skills captured in their CLR. This powerful combination provides a clear, verifiable representation of their skills, instantly understood by potential employers and institutions.

A Call to Action

We urge our members to embrace and implement these standards.

We can build a robust ecosystem that empowers learners and simplifies credential evaluation by issuing high-quality Open Badges, contributing verifiable data to CLRs, and embedding CASE GUIDs associated with the original CASE framework. Let's work together to make this vision a reality, where every learner has the tools to share their journey and unlock their full potential.

You can learn more about our work and the framework developed by 1EdTech’s TrustEd Microcredential Coalition at the Digital Credentials Summit in New Orleans, March 4-6, 2024.

You can also find products certified in Open Badges, CLR, and CASE in 1EdTech’s TrustEd Apps directory.

This is just the beginning of the conversation. Let's discuss, collaborate, and build the future of learning together!

About the Author

Rob Coyle

As 1EdTech’s program manager for digital credentials, Rob Coyle is committed to expanding the success of digital credentials with Open Badges and the Comprehensive Learner Record Standard to support learning and acknowledge the skills and competencies mastered through formal and informal education and life experiences. Rob recognizes the limitless opportunities that arise from meaningful discussions between education institutions, edtech suppliers, and learning providers to understand the needs of all stakeholders. 

Rob brings his experience working with a wide variety of educators and edtech suppliers from K-12, higher education, and corporate training and development. Rob’s career as a teacher and collaborator with other educators allowed him to help learners acquire knowledge and develop new skills through meaningful learning experiences in various disciplines. Rob is an avid supporter of meeting learners where they are and recognizing that not all learning occurs in a classroom with a textbook. These experiences made Rob an avid supporter of the open community, including open-source technologies and open education resources.

Rob graduated from Goucher College in Baltimore, Maryland, with a Master of Education degree focused on education administration and edtech administration.

Susan Haught

Susan Haught is the technical program manager for digital curriculum at 1EdTech. Her passion involves education technology leadership strategies that make a positive impact on teaching and learning, supporting students and teachers to achieve their goals. She has 18 years of academic and technical professional experience working in K-12 and higher education, focusing on education technology leadership, instructional design, IT project management, professional learning, and classroom teaching.

Susan’s unique 360 perspective features diverse professional experience in education technology, including classroom instruction (K-12), student support services (Higher Ed), and technology and operations (K-12 and Higher Ed). 


Published on 2024-02-15

PUBLISHED ON 2024-02-15

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Rob Coyle
Digital Credentials Program Manager
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Susan Haught
Digital Curriculum Technical Program Manager
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