Open-Social Credentials: The Future of Online Education and the Socially Empowering Potentials of the Web

How can society understand and utilize the value of ourselves and other people?  How can we build a life-long learning environment that can continue to develop the skills of individuals while credentialing knowledge on a global scale? 

The Internet is changing our world at an exponential rate.  Most evidently, this change can be seen and experienced in the growing evolution of the online classroom.  In only a few years, the Web has challenged our traditional understanding of education and the belief that we need to attend a prestigious school or university in order to receive a higher education.

MOOC’s, or massive open online classrooms, allow hundreds of thousands of students to attend their online classes from anywhere in the world, for free.  Emerging organizations such as: The Open Education Alliance (supported by Udacity, Google, and AT&T) Coursera, edX and others, are improving tools and expanding outreach to make modern education open to everyone.

This is only the tip of the iceberg.  For as this growth continues, we can anticipate that our planet will eventually become exponentially more educated, and thus, empowered.

“The expansion of education can contribute, under certain conditions, to the aggregate economic well-being on the population” Sociologist, Randal Collins.

While present Web technologies offer novel benefits, they come with inherent costs.¬† Taking a class with 700,000 other people means that students are probably missing the hands on attention they would deserve.¬† How do individuals, and even certain groups of students, become “differentiated” in ways that will highlight their unique skills and needs?¬† How can ‚Äúfree‚Äù education sustain itself financially while becoming a better online service?¬† How can education keep track with the accelerated growth of technology, innovation and novelty?¬† When it comes to the decentralized nature of the Internet, how can we openly credential knowledge?

What are emerging now, beyond formal modes of credentialing (i.e. certificates, transcripts, degrees, etc.), are peer-based methods such as Mozilla’s Open Badges, or even LinkedIn Endorsements.   While these Web-based models offer a social approach to recognizing uncertified knowledge in informal settings, peer-based methods are still limited in their ability to support a life-long learning environment that utilizes the Internet’s open-architecture.  Here is why:

While Open Badges can relate to any subject and be shared openly across the Web, they are subject to pre-defined criteria that are defined by the individuals and institutions that issue the badge.¬† In their current context, Badges do openly credit innovation, novelty, real-time knowledge, or real-world situations that are emerging in and out of the classroom.¬† Therefore, they do not have the organic capacity to seamlessly, and universally, identify and match people‚Äôs value with other‚Äôs needs, or problems with their solutions–criteria a life-long learning environment and an open-architecture demands.

Other social technologies, such as LinkedIn Endorsements or traditional ratings, reviews, and feedback, are extremely limited because they are open to fraud, maliciousness, misinformation, and biased results.

In order to create a life-long learning environment–which would differentiate and integrate between the unique qualities, skills, values and needs of people–the Internet‚Äôs open-architecture demands a universal standard that naturally credentials people and information resources at a fundamental level.

It doesn’t matter if you are a blogger, researcher, or a student in an online classroom, any time people share knowledge through information there is some degree of education that is occurring.¬† Whether part of an online classroom or not, the exchange of knowledge through information is fundamental to the learning experience and this is where social accreditation should begin.

Open-social credentials, which are defined through the process of sharing knowledge through information, would create an entirely new paradigm in social organization.  Generated through blogs, forums, chat, or any online discussion platform, they would introduce authenticity, credibility and accountability in every aspect of an emerging online society.  They would highlight innovation and novelty while providing pathways to discovering individual purpose and meaning.

In terms of formal education, open-social credentials would seamlessly match students and curriculum with real-world scenarios, researchers, jobs or other students that share similar interests, no matter how rare or unique the subjects are.

The Future Web

The purpose of the Web is to provide the right information to the right people at the right time, thus matching people’s value with others need, and problem with solution on a global scale.   The only way the Web can reach this socially empowering potential is by recognizing who people truly are and what they really seek, across any platform and in a benign and ethical manner.

While the current Web 2.0 is comprised of different online communities that represent various aspects of society (education, entertainment, news, sports, business, enterprise, science, technology, government, etc.) there is nothing tying it all together.  Therefore, what is limiting the Web from providing the right information to the right people at the right time is a systematic standard for recognizing the authenticity and credibility of people and information resources.

By credentialing knowledge as it is shared through online discussions in education, science, research, technology, businesses, enterprises, NPO’s, government, etc., we can, as a society, all contribute to creating a safer, more meaningful and effective online social environment.  In this regard, open-social credentials support a singular-semantic solution to socializing the Internet’s open-architecture.

By acting as the conduit for providing the right information to the right people at the right time, open-social credentials can empower society through matching people’s values with others need, and problem with solution on a global scale.

Megathread’s Open-Social Credentials

Megathread is an intuitive plug-in for online discussions that naturally qualifies and quantifies knowledge through determining the social influence and relevance of people and information resources in any subject of interest.

Megathread’s proprietary approach is:

-       Authentic, because it is based upon a 3rd-person assessment process which eliminates fraud, misinformation, maliciousness, or biased opinion,

-       Universal, because it can be applied to any blog, forum, or discussion platform without changing anything about the pre-existing site,

-       Safe, because it doesn’t compromise personal or proprietary information.

Megathread’s open-social credentials can be integrated with any existing online communities and social technologies such as Mozilla’s Open Badges, LinkedIn Endorsements, or any form of social profile, avatar, or identifier.

Megathread will always be free for individuals, communities in education, and non-profit organizations.

Applied to any level of education, Megathread:

-       Qualifies & quantifies students, curriculum, educators, and institutions in any subject

-       Personalizes online classrooms of any size (perfect for MOOC’s)

-       Integrates the classroom and curriculum with real-time, real-world situations

-       Connects students, educators, researchers, and institutions based on shared interests

-       Identifies innovation and novelty in and out of the classroom

-       Creates a life-long learning environment and a singular-semantic Web

Our eventual goal is to reciprocate revenue back to education and create an online society that is based on the value of people and information.

For more information on Megathread, our open-social credentials, or our strategy for creating a “singular-semantic Web,” please contact Brian (at) Megathread (dot) com.