Peer-To-Peer Recognition of Learning in Open Education


  • Jan Philipp Schmidt United Nations University MERIT
  • Christine Geith Michigan State University
  • Stian Håklev University of Toronto
  • Joel Thierstein Rice University



open learning, online learning, open universities


Recognition in education is the acknowledgment of learning achievements. Accreditation is certification of such recognition by an institution, an organization, a government, a community, etc. There are a number of assessment methods by which learning can be evaluated (exam, practicum, etc.) for the purpose of recognition and accreditation, and there are a number of different purposes for the accreditation itself (i.e., job, social recognition, membership in a group, etc). As our world moves from an industrial to a knowledge society, new skills are needed. Social web technologies offer opportunities for learning, which build these skills and allow new ways to assess them. This paper makes the case for a peer-based method of assessment and recognition as a feasible option for accreditation purposes. The peer-based method would leverage online communities and tools, for example digital portfolios, digital trails, and aggregations of individual opinions and ratings into a reliable assessment of quality. Recognition by peers can have a similar function as formal accreditation, and pathways to turn peer recognition into formal credits are outlined. The authors conclude by presenting an open education assessment and accreditation scenario, which draws upon the attributes of open source software communities: trust, relevance, scalability, and transparency.

Author Biographies

Jan Philipp Schmidt, United Nations University MERIT

Jan Philipp Schmidt is a researcher of open education, commons-based peer production, and open source software communities. He has managed open education projects at the University of the Western Cape and the United Nations University MERIT and is based in Cape Town, South Africa. Philipp is a board member of the OpenCourseWare Consortium, a Shuttleworth Foundation fellow and recently co-founded the Peer 2 Peer University. Philipp holds a degree in Computer Science and is working towards a doctorate in Economics. He blogs at

Stian Håklev, University of Toronto

Stian Håklev is a researcher and advocate in the fields of open education, open access to research and knowledge flows between cultures and languages. He is currently writing his Masters thesis about a large state-funded open educational resources project in China at the University of Toronto. Stian is a co-founder of the Peer2Peer University, and blogs at



How to Cite

Schmidt, J. P., Geith, C., Håklev, S., & Thierstein, J. (2009). Peer-To-Peer Recognition of Learning in Open Education. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 10(5).