By Catherine Stevens
With all the changes in education that have occurred in the past few years, the one thing that hasn't changed is certification. In traditional institutions, you get a letter grade when you complete a course. The problem, of course, is that a grade doesn't actually say anything about what you've learned or what you can do with the knowledge you've supposedly gained. The reason schools only use letter grades is because it just isn't feasible to attach the work you've done to your grade as well. However, that is a much more accurate and representational measure of what you've learned. Luckily with online courses (MOOCs) it's trivial to do just that (and yet they don't), which is why I'm so excited about Accredible, a startup which makes it easy to turn your MOOC certificates into something credible and trustworthy by attaching the actual work you've done in your courses to them.
Here's how it works: Anyone can make their own certificate for an online course they're taking. The credibility comes not from an institution's brand, but from attaching proof of your learning onto the certificate itself for anyone to see (notes, assignments, videos of yourself explaining key concepts, quiz results etc.). The focus is therefore on the learning itself and not on where you did it. The whole certificate can then be shared using a custom URL.
The goal of Accredible is to enable anyone to create certificates that are open and transparent; if you could upload all the work that went into a course onto the certificate itself, anyone who had doubts about the quality of the course or of your learning could see for themselves what skills and knowledge you had gained from the course. If free online learning were as credible as traditional university learning it would open up the doors for hackademics around the world who are pursuing this type of education. Take, for example, the self-driven student in India who decides to study MOOCs full-time online who can now have something much more credible to show for than a piece of paper with only a name, grade and institution.
Of course if the whole point of using attaching work to your certificate is to make employers and others more trusting of your certificate, that assumes they're willing to look through all your work to make sure it fits what they're looking for, which is time-consuming. That's why, for each certificate, Accredible provides a high-level score of what you've learned. That way employers can choose to just look at that by itself, or dig in deeper and take a closer look at what you've done.
Be sure to check out Accredible, take a look at some of the beautiful certificates users have made, and then go ahead and make one for a course you're taking or have been wanting to take. I know making one will motivate me to complete the courses I'm taking myself!