Posted by: John Vandivier | September 12, 2013

3 Ways to Improve Degreed

This article is about 3 ways, that are really one way, to improve the education evaluating organization and service known as Degreed.

There are two large flaws in the way Degreed works, which can be seen as a single kind of flaw, and which I have at least 3 solutions for. The flaw is that Degreed values the education of a person based on various relevant inputs, but requires little to no proof of the validity of those inputs.

For example, Degreed will allocate you a certain number of points if you tell it that you read a book. However there is nothing to prevent you from lying! That is the issue.

You can input many books and receive a jaw dropping education score, but at the end of the day that education score is next to worthless because of the lack of validity checks.

A distinct but related problem is that you may own the book and have read it but not understood it. Allocating the same number of educational points to two different people who may have obtained different levels of education is misleading. These are the two problems which are really one problem, a validity problem with the educational score.

I will discuss 3 solutions in this article, in order of implementation difficulty, from easiest to hardest, although I have other solutions as well.

Solution 1 – Create a Disclaimer

This method is the least useful and easiest to implement, but it is better than nothing. It may already be in use deep within some fine print somewhere, but this is insufficient. Simply create a large and noticeable disclaimer for users and profile viewers alike which states that Degreed can neither confirm nor deny that any particular book has been read, class has been taken, and so on. Instead, Degreed presumes the truth of user inputs and calculates a score based on that input. The burden of validation is therefore put on any perspective user of the education score, rather than on Degreed.

Solution 2 – Allow Proof Document Upload or Web Link

This is a very easy method of proof. You simply instruct the person who claims to have read a book or taken a course to upload proof. There should be guidelines for this proof to maximize usefulness. A book or course receipt should not be used for proof because a person may have bought a book and not read it, or read it and not understood it. Therefore the best thing to upload would be something like the following:

Educational system of the United States

Educational system of the United States (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  • Notes on what was learned.
  • An essay on what was learned.
  • A short paper on how the material relates to a particular profession or subject matter.
  • A work sample of something that was created directly based on learning from the educational material in question.
  • Such a work sample alongside a short written statement which summarizes the relationship between the education and work sample.

It is possible that an upload would not even be necessary. Other web services could host the material for free and provide a web link. Instead of hosting the material, Degreed could simply host a URL which links to the proof. The proof itself should be reviewed for validity by the user of the educational score. That user can then provide feedback to the Degreed profile owner saying, “We think you did or didn’t learn as demonstrated in this proof,” which is more valuable than simply taking the profile owner’s word. This method does still have a weakness in that the proof can be false proof. For example a plagiarized document may be uploaded, or even a genuine document written by someone other than the profile owner. An embedded plagiarism check like the kind used by schools could combat the first kind of problem. The second kind of problem could be addressed through a disclaimer, or through a more robust but difficult to implement solution which is my solution 3.

Solution 3 – Robust Validation

Full validation of education would come through some sort of testing. The testing can be done in-house by Degreed or by a third party. The first case allows a great opportunity to make some money by charging for the service, but it also requires a leap in developement on the part of Degreed. Furthermore there come into play issues of moral hazard when Degreed is rating its own students for money. The moral hazard can be avoided through either the use of an open validation model or through the use of a third party auditor who ensures valid practices.

One interesting method could be implemented rapidly, but I’m not sure how it would play out. That would be to allow the profile owners to validate each other. A profile user could go to someone else’s profile and grade their papers and the collection of grades and the people giving the grades could be shown alongside the proof. The graders could make comments and recommendations. It could lead to an educational and community experience.

Another way would be for Degreed to certify graders. This could be a way to make some money for much less work. The graders themselves could either operate for charge or otherwise. There are also various other methods for getting testing done. The value of this solution will depend on the value of the testing, but unless there are major flaws in testing method there should be a great value added here for relatively little implementation cost.

That concludes my ways to improve Degreed’s education score validity! Hope this helps!

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