Powering the Global Education Conversation: About edCircuit

The Evolution of Educational Credentials

Founder and CEO Wayne Skipper of Concentric Sky leads the way

Wayne Skipper is the Founder and CEO of Concentric Sky and leads a team of professionals who design and build a wide range of software products – from focused, individualized K-6 software to large-scale analytics systems that quantify the activity of user populations. Wayne is somewhat of a maverick, a veteran of the US Navy, Texas Instruments and Dell who is now creating the future of credentialing in education.

Education is at a turning point. The hundreds-years-old system of non-specific diplomas and degrees is quickly giving way to a system that identifies skill sets and competencies. K-12, community colleges, traditional higher ed and even post-graduate education are all redefining their value in the global marketplace. Learners will not only need to define their competencies, but they will need to display and share those competencies with employers.

We are moving towards a digital landscape where a common, shared language will allow learning achievements to be recognized, and skills will become transferable to any applicable working situation. It is not only the future of education; it is a future that is arriving at breakneck speed. There are a handful of companies and organizations that are making this happen. Fewer still, are the companies that have the technical ability and the vision to get us there.

Wayne Skipper and Concentric Sky are very well known within technology circles, but most educators and the general public have little knowledge of how the technical transformation in education is actually taking place. In twenty years, education at all levels will look very different. Learners will have a public persona, and their achievements will be documented and searchable, much the way we search for consumer products on the Internet today.

Companies will hire their employees globally, relying on provable skillsets to find and hire their remote workforces. It will all be made possible by an open system of credentials that industry and education institutions use and agree on. Skipper’s company, Concentric Sky, has been instrumental in helping to create this change in our educational system.

The Growing Impact of Open Badges and Open Technology Standards

Nearly 15 million Open Badges have been issued in the last few years in the US alone.  Skipper was among many who saw a need for a digital version of the badge system. Concentric Sky’s leadership in the development of Open Badges and Open Pathways not only answered that need but revolutionized the utility of badges for users.

“Concentric Sky has led the development of open badges since 2015,” said Skipper. “Under the auspices of the MacArthur Foundation, we developed the 2.0 specification and wrote the developers’ tools, developers’ guide, as well as the open source badge validation tools which are currently used throughout the ecosystem to validate badges. If you’re working with badges, you are most likely using our tech at some level.”

Concentric Sky’s work with open badges led MacArthur Foundation spin-off Collective Shift to approach them in 2015 to take over stewardship of the Badge Alliance, which they held until January of 2017 when they passed it over to IMS Global Learning Consortium, a member-driven global standards body.

“Open Badges is a technology standard that allows you to take any learning achievement, whether formal or informal and recognize it with a portable micro-credential,” said Skipper. “In the past, we’ve had formal achievements signaled by a degree and informal achievements like Scout badges signaled by other means. Open Badges allows both kinds of learning achievements to be signaled in the same way, along with a host of other kinds of achievements – think certifications issued by tr