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    Seeing Credentials From a CTDL Perspective

    When you think about a "credential", it's common to think of a singular entity that is offered by and maintained by an organization, bears a set of requirements and conditions to earn, and which is earned and used by a person. For example, consider a Bachelor's Degree:

    A credential perceived as a singular entity that encompasses everything someone must do to earn it, as well as the resulting earned credential. A credential perceived as a singular entity that encompasses everything someone must do to earn it, as well as the resulting earned credential.

    When examined more deeply, the notion of a "Bachelor's Degree" can be divided into key parts:

    Notice the impact of this division:

    A credential perceived as separate entities. A credential perceived as separate entities.

    This is how credentials of all types (not just degrees) are conceptualized in CTDL. Note that the degree program could just as easily be one or more assessments required to earn a certification, or a combination of requirements. The key is that the credential is separate and distinct from all of the things one must do to earn the credential.

    Furthermore, CTDL does not seek to define the earned instance of the credential, nor does it seek to define the properties of the individual who earns it. CTDL is intended to describe the abstract credential, as well as the requirements to earn it.

    If we swap out the labels on our diagram for the terms used in CTDL, it looks like this:

    A credential and related entities with CTDL-based labels. A credential and related entities with CTDL-based labels.

    Note that both the Degree Program and the courses that support it are each considered to be a "Learning Opportunity Profile". This is an entity that is designed to describe any sort of educational or training experience, whether it is a full degree program spanning months or years, or a single day class lasting just a few hours.

    If we remove the earned instance of the credential and rework our graph to reflect CTDL classes, properties, and structure, it looks a little different:

    A simple credential graph as seen in CTDL. A simple credential graph as seen in CTDL.

    Note the addition of the Condition Profile - we will cover this entity below.

    Understanding Condition Profile

    In CTDL, there are many ways in which entities relate to one another. For example:

    Not only are entities related to one another, but those relationships may contain additional constraints, such as:

    There are myriad ways in which entities may relate to one another depending on certain conditions. These are most often conditions that define requirements, but may define other relationships as well. CTDL attempts to capture these conditions with a large and flexible entity called Condition Profile. Condition Profile serves as a go-between that allows detailed descriptions of the relationships between entities that would not be possible to capture with direct relationship properties alone:

    Condition Profile contains data and enables multiple entities to be grouped together to define a single set of requirements. Condition Profile contains data and enables multiple entities to be grouped together to define a single set of requirements.

    Condition Profile is also useful for defining other relationships using the same basic structure:

    Condition Profile also allows detailed descriptions of relationships such as recommendations, preparation, advanced standing, and so on. Condition Profile also allows detailed descriptions of relationships such as recommendations, preparation, advanced standing, and so on.

    Using Condition Profile, a graph can be constructed that describes relationships that are very simple or very complex:

    Condition Profile can define conditions and constraints on each relationship between each entity, allowing for very complex data to be described. Condition Profile can define conditions and constraints on each relationship between each entity, allowing for very complex data to be described.

    Understanding Credential Alignment Object

    Relationships between objects are a key element of both CTDL and the Credential Engine Registry. It is often the case that you can better describe something by referencing something else. For example:

    In the best-case scenario, this information exists online in a way that can be directly referenced with enough granularity to adequately define the assertion being made. Occasionally, however, this information may need to be recorded directly in the data. Sometimes it is more convenient to do both. To cover all of these use cases, CTDL makes use of a special utility class called a Credential Alignment Object. This class is based on the Alignment Object in schema.org and serves as a combination of a descriptive object and a linking object, with the capability to describe an alignment when necessary.

    Credential Alignment Object enables linking to data in a variety of structures:

    Credential Alignment Object is a universal way to link one thing to another with convenient descriptive properties in the middle. Credential Alignment Object is a universal way to link one thing to another with convenient descriptive properties in the middle.

    Domain Models

    Credential

    Credential Domain Model Credential Domain Model

    Organization

    Organization Domain Model Organization Domain Model

    Assessment Profile

    Assessment Profile Domain Model Assessment Profile Domain Model

    Learning Opportunity Profile

    Learning Opportunity Profile Domain Model Learning Opportunity Profile Domain Model

    Condition Profile

    Condition Profile Domain Model Condition Profile Domain Model