Most often,the news you’ll find here is about forward momentum in badging. But today, we’re going to take a look back because the badging community has lost one of its pioneers: Mark Johnson. Mark lived with an aggressive form of cancer before his death on January 20, 2015. He was laid to rest January 25,2015.
To be completely transparent, Mark Johnson means a little more to us here at Acclaim HQ. He was the founding father and driving force behind Acclaim. Even after developing cancer, Mark worked tirelessly to launch our product because he strongly believed in the potential for badging to revolutionize the way individuals manage, share and verify their professional achievements.
More than our leader, Mark was an extraordinary guy. “There was something irresistible about Mark,”said Heather Young, marketing manager with Acclaim. “Call it force of will or enthusiasm - I’m not sure it has a name - but it was heartfelt and genuine.”
That force of will pushed Mark - and the rest of us forward - even during difficult moments. Jarin Schmidt, business development manager for Acclaim recounted,”I’ll never forget the time Mark announced Pearson’s commitment to the Open Badge Alliance. He had just begun treatment and his vocal cords were damaged such that he could barely speak.
Mark got up on the stage and opened with, ‘Pardon my voice. I guess I must have a little badging fever…’ It’s that tenacity and wit that will be missed most by our team, company and the community.”
One of Mark’s defining characteristics was his unique ability to build a team by first building relationships. “All of us who met Mark along the way were embraced immediately as his friends,” said Pete Janzow, business development manager for Acclaim. “His approach was on the level, gregarious, welcoming. Mark made you want to join in his adventure.”
To the very end, Mark’s personal mantra was In it to win it - his friends and family all sported rubber bracelets with that phrase inscribed as a show of support. His positive, open approach to life - and even death - was winning exemplified.
Mark’s gone off to the sunset ahead of us now. But he left all of us on the team - and everyone he encountered - with an incredible gift: the ability to stay focused on the positives and keep pushing for tomorrow, regardless of the uncertainty or headwinds we might encounter. For that, and so much more, our entire team will be forever grateful.
One of the many cool things that comes along with working on new, buzzy technology like badging is being asked to collaborate with other new, buzzy technologists at events like TechCrunch Disrupt 2014 in San Francisco. For this #HackDisrupt event, hackers converged from all around the world and had 24 hours to work their magic on innovative apps, sites and ideas.
Andrew Rich, Acclaim developer extraordinaire, attended the event and came away with some great observations, plus a really cool adult-sized onesie.
Here’s what Andrew had to say about the experience:
Why was Acclaim asked to attend Disrupt SF 2014?
Acclaim was at the Hackathon to promote Acclaim, our APIs and encourage developers and entrepreneurs to build Acclaim into their hacks.
Why were you, specifically, there?
I was there to help anyone with any problems connecting to or using the Acclaim APIs.
So what did you do all day?
I pitched the Acclaim API, Pearson Developers Network, and developer.pearson.com APIs to hundreds of developers as they decided upon their hack ideas.
What was the outcome of the Hackathon?
A group called Shower With Friends won the first place prize for a gadget and app that measures the amount of water used in your shower and challenges you to use less water by competing with friends on social media.
Pearson awarded our prize for best use of Pearson APIs to Questrip. They used Pearson DK Top Ten APIs to create a RPG style, quest-based traveling application.
What are two of the coolest things you saw and/or did?
Meeting Tristan Sokol and Jeof Oyster was a highlight. Pitching to developers and judging the hacks with them was a lot of fun. I learned a lot about the culture around hacks and startups from them, and enjoyed hearing their perspective on the industry.
A couple weeks ago, the Acclaim team was invited to present at the Pearson Learning Leaders Forum in Chicago. The forum was titled The Power of Digital Badging in Professional Training and Development and featured three experts in the training industry who lent their unique perspectives to the topic.
When you work for an employer who not only sees the value in providing you with new learning opportunities, but wants to make sure your abilities are clearly communicated throughout the organization, you’re being set up to succeed.
And by recognizing what you can do with a badge, your employer ensures that you’re in control of that achievement. Wherever you go within the company, or if you choose to make a move elsewhere, your badge goes with you. Badges ensure that skills and learning outcomes aren’t just a moment-in-time but can support you over the course of your career.
"Sure, it’s incredibly valuable to understand a candidate’s abilities. But anyone off the street can assert that they’re proficient at Microsoft Excel on paper, without truly providing any proof."
eCampus News recently published an article titled Employers like MOOCs - if they know what one is, in which the author pointed to the results of a study performed by researchers at Duke University and RTI International. The purpose of the study was to learn whether or not employers look to massive open online courses (MOOCs) to help with making hiring decisions or recruiting talent.
The study was funded by the Gates Foundation and revealed that 70% of respondents (who were HR professionals from North Carolina employers) had never heard of MOOCs.
But once the concept was explained, the HR pros liked the idea of using MOOCs for making hiring decisions and professional development for existing employees.
We here at Acclaim are big fans of innovation in the area of developing/testing knowledge - especially when there’s a clear link between those activities and getting individuals better jobs.
Although Acclaim’s focus is on more traditional credentials and learning outcomes currently valued by employers, we believe overall there’s a lot of potential for Open Badges to increase the value of learning outcomes developed through MOOCs.
As employers become more aware of MOOCs and Open Badges, the potential for career advancement will become more readily available to individuals. And that’s something we can definitely get behind.
"It is still very early in the adoption cycle for badges, so we’ll learn a lot more in the upcoming months and years about which programs emerge as leaders and which industries most rapidly embrace Open Badges as alternative, complementary learning credentials."