Archives001x is a new frontier for professional certification

Edlab is a Danish startup located in Copenhagen and Aarhus. The company provides technical assistance with setting up a Learning Management System (LMS) based on cutting-edge technology. They also help by developing online courses based on the latest pedagogical research. They are our partner in developing new archives training

Doing archives learners use learning management systems like iTunesU and edX to understand archival practices by doing them individually or in teams. The courseware has been designed to be informed by pedagogical research which is attributed.

The learning badge for archives001x demonstrates mastery and costs nothing.

The motive behind Doing archives learning is the collection and sharing of data. How long does it take to describe 10 digital objects in French archives? Is it faster in the United States or slower in the United Kingdom. Archival management proceeds at differing paces because the management orientation, the staff training and the technology tools vary across repositories, countries and regions of the world.

Doing archive learners acquire important skills and context by completing learning steps / stages. Then they share their experience with others. This means that ‘experts’ who believe they know the optimal practices to apply can measure their assumptions against actual data.

In some professional contexts, the learning motives are mixed. For example, the Society of American Archivists Digital Archives Specialist curriculum and certificate relies on in person comprehensive examinations at their annual meeting and various locations in the United States. The Academy of Certified Archivists credential is also reliant on a standardized multiple question examination. Apart from the fee and travel restrictions in these schemes, these organizations generate income from these learning opportunities. They also do not provide test questions or publish pedagogical outcomes data. We don’t know whether taking one of these exams makes an archival repository function better.

Here is some telling language about the DAS curriculum — “All examinations are multiple choice. A passing grade is 85% in accordance with accepted graduate school grading scales. Web Seminar exams have 10 questions and participants have one hour to complete the exam. Half-day courses have 15 questions and participants have 90 minutes to complete the exam. One-day courses have 20 questions and participants have 90 minutes to complete the exam. The first exam is included with your course registration fee. If failed, you may re-take the exam for free within 2 weeks. If failed a second time, you may re-take the exam at a $35-member/$55 non-member retake fee. If failed a third time, you must re-take the course (at a reduced rate).”

And the scheme anticipates multiple instances of “failure” (how frequently we don’t know because there are no published statistics). When learners fail, the organization potentially derives income which we believe is a conflict. Paying for instruction and courseware is common in higher education settings. Paying for similar opportunities in dues supported organizations should be different. Even in higher education contexts — community colleges and universities — it is increasingly hard to translate education costs into logical outcomes like securing a job in a professional field.

Open education opportunities do not have economic motives that profit when people fail.

The SAA / ACA examination and certification schemes are profoundly retrograde and opaque. Questions developed by select individuals which do not reflect consensus are misleading and probably biased. Answering them depends on knowing vocabulary and concepts which are not freely available. Most technical / professional language operates at a secondary or tertiary level of meaning — even the term “archive” has multiple connotations.

Terry Heick says “[Multiple choice examinations have been] derided by educators for decades as incapable of truly measuring understanding, and while performance on such exams can be noticeably improved simply by learning a few tricks, the multiple choice question may have a larger, less obvious flaw that disrupts the tone of learning itself. This is a tone that is becoming increasingly important in the 21st century as access to information increases, as the updating of information happens more naturally, and as blended and mobile learning environments become more common.” Edutopia George Lucas Educational Foundation 2013 01 23 New Reasons to Dislike Multiple-Choice Testing accessed 2015 08 19 at

Doing archives is building a Global Archives Institute open to professionals and non professionals. The Institute concentrates on 7 (seven) archival functions / domains integral to archival certification: appraisal, acquisition, disposition, arrangement, description, preservation, reference and access, programs (teaching, reference, scholarly communication), management, digital objects, funding, and legal contexts. Our only requirement is that learning opportunities generate transparent data and be offered on a no cost basis. We welcome participants from anywhere.

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