Reinventing Open Badges and LERs with Open Recognition

Don Presant
Open Recognition Alliance
Serge Ravet
President, Reconnaître—Open Recognition Alliance
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The Open Recognition Alliance was very pleased to welcome the groundbreaking socio-technological work of the T3 Innovation Network (T3 Network) across the Atlantic in Vienna in December for the 21st annual ePIC conference, a continuing exploration of better ways to recognize lifelong and lifewide skills and achievements to advance human potential. 

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s mission of innovation and the T3 Network’s message of data interoperability resonated strongly with our international audience: we explored Linked Claims as a standard for endorsement and a panel on the Experience You AI initiative had a significant impact.

We’d like to expand on the conversation started in Vienna, exploring how the ideas and practices of the Open Recognition community and the T3 Network community intersect and can reinforce each other.

Open Recognition

Coined in 2016 in the Bologna Open Recognition Declaration, "Open Recognition", has inspired new approaches to the recognition of individuals, achievements and competencies. 

At its core, Open Recognition is about empowering individuals and their communities to make visible—and actionable—their achievements, competencies and aspirations. The vision of Open Recognition aligns very well with the T3 Network’s mission:

  1. make all learning count;
  2. enable competencies and skills to function like currency;
  3. empower learners and workers with data.

Emerging from practices enabled by Open Badges—invented to make informal learning visible—Open Recognition is about opening up the power to recognize beyond institutions and authorities to include individuals and their communities. We know that all forms of learning have value, whether informal, non-formal and formal—Open Recognition establishes a continuum between informal, non-formal and formal recognition, enabling the emergence of an ecosystem where all forms and sources of recognition are valued, in Open Badges and other LERs.

Open Recognition and LERs

Open Recognition is an inclusive, holistic approach to the recognition of human potential, focusing on learners and workers not just as collections of skills, but as integrated human beings putting skills into practice as they live and work. Its scope goes beyond  assessed education and training to include informal, experiential, social and connected learning and achievement, which was Mozilla’s inspiration for Open Badges back in 2011. 

In the workplace, it seeks to recognize learning in the flow of work, understanding that most of our learning happens outside of structured courses and is largely undocumented, as U.S. Chamber Foundation senior vice president Jason Tyszko reminded us in Vienna. Open Recognition begins with recognition of the individual — their context, their goals and their potential to reach those goals. Open Recognition also means individuals need not wait to be recognized by authorities, but can recognize themselves and others through self-assertion, peer recognition and endorsement. And they can be recognized not just for where they've been and what they’ve done, but for where they want to go and for the values that drive that journey.

The Kirkpatrick model tells us that learning is only fully realized when applied to performance and ongoing practice. This means that without effective transfer into practice, the true value and effectiveness of learning can’t be fully assessed or recognized. So a simple example of convergence between Open Recognition and the T3 Network’s vision of LERs could be transforming “learning records” for courses into “practice records” validated in the field.

From our perspective, the T3 Network’s mission could be expanded to: 

  1. Make all learning, practice and recognition count;
  2. Provide services that make recognition feasible and actionable
  3. Empower learners and workers with the power to recognize and to activate that recognition

The Open Recognition Alliance is keen to work with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation and the T3 Innovation Network to explore these ideas further and we look forward to collaborating on future events, projects and initiatives. To learn more about Open Recognition, and please reach out to us at We’ll be reaching out in return.

About the Authors

Don Presant
Open Recognition Alliance

Don is a founding member of the Open Recognition Alliance and is a key curator of the ePIC conference.

Serge Ravet
President, Reconnaître—Open Recognition Alliance

Serge is a founding member and President of Reconnaître—Open Recognition Alliance a not-for profit association dedicated to promoting the goals of the Bologna Open Recognition Declaration.