An Open Recognition meeting in the United States

During a #BadgeChat last November, Julie Keane and Nate Otto shared their perceptions of the ePIC conference on open recognition, which they attended last year in Paris, France. I listened eagerly, all the while wishing there were opportunities to attend similar open recognition events here in the United States. As I listened, that wish for nearby events became a nagging question in my mind. “Hey, why aren’t there open recognition events in the U.S.? Or in North America? For that matter, why aren’t there more open recognition events everywhere?”

Here’s what I think we should do: hold an open recognition meeting in the United States.  We could do it this June at the Badge Summit conference in Philadelphia, PA (I already asked Noah Geisel).

To my knowledge, there haven’t been any open recognition events in the United States. There have been conference presentations on the topic, and perhaps there have been events that align with open recognition but that go by different names and so fly below my Google radar. If that’s the case, please let me know; I don’t want to miss out!

There are organizations and workgroups in the U.S. that focus on micro-credentialing and open badge technologies. For instance, IMS Global hosts annual and quarterly conferences, as well as working groups that meet to hammer out technological standards. Likewise, there’s RWoT and W3C’s work on Verifiable Credentials, Decentralized Identifiers, Linked data, and other related technologies and standards. Lots of excellent work is happening —and I’m so grateful for all of it! Open technologies are absolutely necessary for supporting an open recognition ecosystem… but are they sufficient to create such an ecosystem?

Creating an open recognition ecosystem will require significant changes in the opinions and behaviors of individuals, the policies and cultures of organizations, and perhaps even support from government policymakers. I expect most folks would agree that open technologies —by themselves— may not be sufficient to make this happen. Bringing about such changes will likely require an additional kind of effort: outreach and advocacy.

I know that many people have been doing exactly that kind of outreach and advocacy for years —and again, I’m so grateful! I expect those same folks have met informally many times in the U.S. and discussed open recognition, probably while attending events organized around open badges/micro-credentialing. Why not bring those open recognition advocates together for a planned event where open recognition takes center stage, even if it’s just a meeting? It may not be an entire event like the ePIC conference, but it’s a place to start. And speaking of ePIC and the open recognition scene in Europe, the Open Recognition Alliance seems to be doing well advancing an open recognition agenda in Europe. Maybe an organized group of recognition advocates could make similar advances in the U.S.? Heck, there are many locales around the world that might benefit from an organized group of local open recognition advocates, responsive to the needs and opportunities of their particular contexts. Let’s have meetings everywhere!

But in the meantime, can we at least have a meeting in the United States? I want to go to one.



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