Trusted Learner Network - Governing Charter 1.0

Principles of the TLN

  • The Trusted Learner Network Principles have evolved since their inception in 2017. This latest iteration is designed to emphasize one thing: that our principles reflect the values of human-centered design. Principles are focused on major themes: trust and authenticity; (l)earner rights; and openness, networkability and accessibility.
    • Open Source: The governance and technology comprising the TLN is not dependent on the purchase of proprietary or commercial vendor products. The governance and policy design created by the TLN is intended to provide an adoptable framework that establishes best practice in the ecosystem. The database architecture and the means of interacting with it will be based on open-source and community-source tools, protocols and APIs, allowing transparency and review of the code, which shall be maintained in version-controlled source code managed repositories.
    • Interoperability: The TLN is architected to be a platform supporting multiple networks through adherence to standards-based credentials and their associated data models. As in all well-designed platforms, the intent is to mirror these principles in all derivative or associated trust networks using it to assure overall integrity, consistency and future interoperability. 
    • Authenticity: The TLN is designed to recognize the accountability of the issuer to ensure the quality and accuracy of awarded credentials.  Changes can be made to those fields within the data model of the credential so designed, including credential expiry date and revocation status. 
    • Immutability: Once an achievement is written by a credential issuer to be available for the learner/earner, it cannot be manipulated or changed. Selected data in the Trusted Learner Network are immutable because the technology on which they are constructed include elements of distributed ledger technology (“DLT”) functionality. Data defends itself against tampering while simultaneously the decentralized nature of the technology increases durability through replication.
    • Consent: Consent is directly stored on the technology DLT, ensuring that the learner’s agency has guaranteed authenticity. This consent is controlled via the learner’s user experience or on behalf of the learner by an issuing institution.
    • Identity: Identity and Access Management is central to the confidence in and adoption of the TLN as a mechanism for value. The TLN must incorporate a variety of identities from existing sources; thus models of self-sovereign identity, in which the learner is the central agent in connecting and asserting identities, must be aligned with existing institution/organizational identities to ensure mapping among identities is consistent.
    • Agency: Users have sole ability to select, stack, arrange, and send credentials to whoever inside or outside the network they choose, disclosing only the information about themselves in their credentials they wish to expose. Learner consent can be revoked at any time by the learner, including the right to be forgotten on the network in respect to sharing assertions with anyone other than the issuer.
    • Equity: The TLN is built upon a vision of justice, equity and learner agency and as such establishes itself as a vibrant, diverse and inclusive organization at all levels of governance, participation and benefit, with the goal of allowing all TLN users to be heard, to contribute and to be represented. This includes the learner’s right to exercise agency over records about them through appeal and arbitration.

Board Composition (at time of draft in 2022)

For a list of current members, visit our Who We Are page.

  • Sherri Braxton, Bowdoin College
  • Bettina Celis, Maricopa County Community College District
  • Andrew Fisher, Bristol Community College
  • Noah Giesel, University of Colorado
  • Meena Naik, Jobs for the Future Foundation
  • Michael Torrence, Ph.D., Motlow State Community College
  • Kate Giovacchini, Arizona State University

Role of the Governing Body

  • Board Member Contributions and Roles
    • Advocacy, including (but not comprehensive of):
      • Champion the TLN’s value anchors in relevant environments to influence change
      • Writing letters of support and providing fundraising support 
      • Act as ambassadors to other professional organizations and interested parties to increase both awareness and knowledge of TLN's mission, vision, and goals
      • Leverage TLN’s reputation to signal support of external efforts that align with TLN Principles
      • Speaking and presenting on behalf of the TLN with the agreement of the Governing Body and at the discretion of the TLN Director
    • Actively build policy that governs the network and advances the work of TLN
    • Contribute to the body of digital credential knowledge and best practice through the development of thought leadership, white papers, research, opinions, etc.
    • Provide an accountability anchor for the efforts of the TLN architecture and technical work
    • Generally contribute to one’s own ability to the viability, longevity, and sustainability of the TLN)
    • Attend meeting opportunities and actively contribute in meetings
  • Board Authority 
    • Advisory capacity in recommending staffing, funding, roadmap vetting of development 
    • Development of policy sets that will govern the design of technical components of the TLN
    • Act as stakeholder group for TLN technology development; advising, reviewing and vetting functionality as it is created
    • Represents the TLN during endorsed activities
  • Board Authority Constraints/Limitations
    • Will not enter into contractual obligations on behalf of the TLN
    • Will not speak publicly on TLN in an official capacity without informing the rest of the Governing Body

Mission Vision & Values - Start crafting ideas connected to the group's mission, vision and values

  • Vision 
    • The Trusted Learner Network will improve the outcomes of learners by reducing the friction of receiving, sharing and activating the value of credentials.
  • Values
    • The Trusted Learner Network promotes an environment of trust, quality, responsibility, equity, accessibility, and accountability by centering voice and promoting the agency of individual learners/earners who are typically absent from these conversations, leading to patterns of standardization without representation.
    • Further, the Trusted Learner Network recognizes the value of the credentials created, shared, and distributed as being valid and useful in serving the needs of learners.
  • Mission 
    • The TLN aspires to become an independent, self-governed, distributed organization that serves as a utility by housing records of learning and achievement that can be shared at the consent of the learner. It will be governed by a coalition of learners, issuers and credential beneficiaries who seek to create organic, learner-centric policies that achieve the goals of credential management, and are guided by our values that center individual learners.
  • Strategy 
    • To realize the vision and mission, the TLN will:
      • Establish an open coalition/consortium of digital credential networks, providers and participants that advances the adoption of digital credentials defined as the TLN Community;
      • Develop governance structures to bring quality, accountability and rights to learners, issuers and credential ecosystem stakeholders;  
      • Build a technical platform that acts as both a model and an utility for the housing of learner records that embodies the governance structures and values described above.

Leadership, Decision-Making and Onboarding

  • Roles within the Governing Body
    • Members at Large - SME participants within the TLN Community asked to participate in the body based on their expertise, influence and role in the digital credential ecosystem
      • Members at large may self-identify or be identified by the committee as leads of particular work efforts
    • Managing Director - A hired role funded by Arizona State University that Exercises budget authority and retains the responsibility of role addition or role removal
    • TLN Product Manager - A hired role funded by BMGF to manage and direct the technical and policy products created through the Trusted Learner Network
  • Roles within the Architecture Advisory Board
    • TLN Product Manager - A hired role funded by BMGF to manage and direct the technical and policy products created through the Trusted Learner Network
    • Architecture Advisory Board Members at Large - SME participants within the TLN Community asked or elected to the roll of leadership committee member 
  • Decision-Making and Voting
    • Asynchronous voting is preferred to collect the will of as many participants as possible on a decision and requires a majority of Governing Body Members at Large participants (defined as 4) to reach a decision. In the case of a tie, the Managing Director may cast a tie-breaking vote.
    • A quorum for conducting a vote in synchronous setting is defined as 4 general members, plus the Managing Director. If this quorum cannot be reached, the Governing Body will rely on asynchronous voting.  Documentation of vote tally will be included in subsequent meeting minutes.
    • Group agreement will be reached through discussion and deliberation. 
    • Decisions will  be documented clearly and shared through meeting minutes
  • Onboarding of New Members
    • If potential new members are identified, they will be nominated by their committee member sponsor and their inclusion will be discussed and agreed to by the committee through a vote.

Trusted Learner Network Engagement

  • The TLN recognizes the importance of the following parties in the digital credential ecosystem and prioritizes their inclusion, representation, and needs as participatory members of the TLN at large.

Advisory Facilitation and Functioning

  • How does the board want to conduct business?
    • The Governing Body will meet regularly and synchronously.
    • Key decision points (ratification of policy, inclusion of new member/change of make-up of board, revisions to charter, decisions that change vision/mission of TLN, etc.) will be open for asynchronous input (collected through Slack) for a designated time period after discussion with anticipation that board members are notified and have opportunity to review.
  • Meeting minutes
    • The Governing Body will commit to maintaining meeting minutes, including recorded and written, informal documentation of key points and final vote counts/decisions. Meeting minutes are available upon request
    • Governing Body meetings will be recorded through teleconferencing software and made available to Governing Body participants
  • What materials are needed?
    • Governing Body documentation will be stored and maintained in Google Drive; all materials will be digital and may include documents, interactive whiteboards, etc.
    • Materials produced by TLN for needed decision making practices are owned by TLN and cannot be reproduced for profit or gain except as permission is provided by TLN
  • How will the board communicate?
    • Slack is the preferred asynchronous tool for communication. Notifications for meetings will be sent in Slack as well as through email.
  • What is the budget process?
    • Budget process will be handled at the Managing Director level, except in cases where budgetary assistance or advice is needed from members at large
  • What are the roles needed to have effective meetings and who will do it?
    • A quorum for conducting a TLN Governing Body meeting (in which synchronous voting could take place) is defined as 4 participants, participants defined as board members and/or Managing Director
    • A quorum for conducting a TLN Architecture Advisory Committee meeting is defined as 4 participants, participants defined as board members and/or Managing Director and/or TLN Product Manager. 
  • Removal from TLN Governing Body by Voting
    • In the case that the Governing Body decides that a member should be removed for misconduct or failure to fulfill Governing Body duties, removal requires a ⅔ majority in a synchronous voting session. The removed member will not be entitled to their honorarium.
Participants at the TLN Unconference 2023

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