Besides finalizing my thesis on the future of Delft Open Courseware (expect the final report medio-April), I am throwing out some bait to catch a PhD fish somewhere. I rewrote my earlier concept (which I posted on the LabSpace forum) into a 4 page draft proposal for the research I would love to conduct.
I came across some interesting posts about the structural change that happens in education, or whatever, society. And these posts have much in common with the thing I want to research, which is the reason I post it here.
First of all, Stephen Downes speaks about "Open Source Assessment"...
What we can expect in an open system of assessment is that achievement will be in some way 'recognized' by a community. This removes assessment from the hands of 'experts' who continue to 'measure' achievement. And it places assessment into the hands of the wider community. Individuals will be accorded credentials as they are recognized, by the community, to deserve them.Furthermore;
How does this happen? It beaks down into two parts:
- first, a mechanism whereby a person's accomplishments may be displayed and observed.
- second, a mechanism which constitutes the actual recognition of those accomplishments.
Eventually, over time, a person will accumulate a 'profile' (much as described in 'Resource Profiles'). We can see this already in systems like Yahoo Games, where an individual's profile lists the games they play and the tournaments they've won.The piece on "Resource Profiles" is recommended for people interested in the subject.
In other cases, the evaluation of achievement will resemble more a reputation system. Through some combination of inputs, from a more or less define community, a person may achieve a composite score called a 'reputation'.
In still other cases, organizations - such as universities, professional associations, governments and companies - may grant specific credentials. In such cases, the person may put forward their portfolios and profiles for consideration for the credential.
Then we have a discussion by Jeff Cobb about an online spoken presentation by George Siemens about a World without Courses (if you're in a hurry, start at slide 21). This interesting post deals with the difficulties of assessing value in the world informal learning that has proliferated on the Web. Siemens suggests two possibilities: reputation points and referral systems.
Jeff Cobb adds to this the possibility of old-fashioned assessment, certification, and testifying. He also mentions
The first involves individuals gaining reputation points over time based upon their participation in learning conversations and activities. The process, as I understand it, would be similar to how sellers on eBay or reviewers on Amazon build reputation, though Siemens points out that we would need to know the identity and credentials of the person assigning reputation points in order for the value of points to be fully assessed. Reputation, in other words, should not be arbitrary.
The second has more to do with drawing connections between learning content and activities using a process similar to the recommendation system at Amazon, i.e., “The person who bought ‘x’ also bought ‘y.’” In the world of learning, this process might translate to “The person who read this, also read this” or “The person who studied this thinker also studied this thinker.” I’m not entirely certain I follow Siemens line of thinking here, but I believe the point is to ensure a certain quality, consistency, and intensity of learning in a particular subject area over time.
An association with a strong enough brand within its particular niche may possess sufficient authority to play a valuable validation role on its own.And that is what I think too. In a way, people are brands, and if someone's reputation (=brand) is high, his or her word is believed... He or she can then perform duties as assessment, and certification.
The main difficulty, according to Siemens and Cobbs, is how to put all the pieces together in a cohesive way.
We see some similarities in the described issues. This makes my proposal relevant, especially considering the question on how to create and assess a Virtual ID, something the above authors ask as well. Any suggestions, or rather, any good research question is much welcome.