Posted by: Ed Tittel
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Blue Ribbon Techs, as you may or may not know, is one of two companies that is partnering with CompTIA (the other is Canadian company Zylog/Brainhunter) to make digital versions of their certifications available online by request to parties that credential holders authorize to view such information. In practice, this means that those who include special “active graphics” in their resumes, web pages, job applications, and so forth, convey permission to use the Blue Ribbon Tech (BRT) “widgets” to interrogate CompTIA’s certification/credentials databases to check their credentials to whomever clicks the link embedded in the graphic.
This kind of technology is sometimes called digital badging. It refers to creating mechanisms whereby individuals who pass certain courses, earn specific degrees or IT certifications, obtain various licenses, and so forth and so on, can use digital objects (“badges”) in documents to provide proof that what they claim to possess is backed up by an objective, third-party “badge respository.” Further, that repository also attests to a badge’s validity and currency. This is, in fact, the focus of the Mozilla Open Badges project and has produced an emerging standard infrastructure for collecting, storing, maintaining, and reporting on such information.
The Open Badges Wiki is a good place to start digging into details and activities of this development and proselytizing organization.
I had wondered if CompTIA had deliberately avoided participation in the Open Badges initiative, but was cheered to learn from Mr. Kraemer that his developers are presently looking into building the scaffolding necessary to support Open Badges. His group has until now been pre-occupied with handling the vetting, logistics, set-up, privacy/confidentiality, and data collection for background checks, criminal records, and drug testing data related to tying the CompTIA credential look-ups into a variety of job-matching systems for freelance technicians who routinely work with or for large field service operations like those run by IBM, NCR, Dell, HP, and countless others.
I’m happy to learn that what I had interpreted as possible evidence of hostility or indifference to the Open Badge initiative was in fact neither one of those things. Instead, it came from a set of priorities driven by the consumers of those CompTIA digitial credentials who wanted BRT to address matters of perceived higher import than whether or not badging information and format adhered to any industry standards, emerging (as the Mozilla Open Badge initiative is right now) or otherwise. In fact, it looks highly likely that it’s just a matter of time before the CompTIA badging information is made to conform with the Open Badge formats and data representations, now that other, more serious and difficult technical problems have been addressed.
All I say is “Whoopee!” This is the best outcome I could have hope for from my investigations, so I’m quite pleased to report on it.