GDN Newsletter April 2021

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Groningen Declaration Network
Newsletter April 2021

2021 Annual Meeting

Note the venue and save the dates: Ottawa, Canada, 10-12 November 2021!

Join international thought leaders at the 10th  Annual Meeting of the Groningen Declaration Network  November 10-12, 2021. This historic meeting will be delivered in a hybrid format: in person (in Ottawa, Canada) and virtually (online).  

Participants will have the option to register for the format that works best for their circumstances, making it the most accessible GDN Annual Meeting in its history.

Note that earlier dates were announced previously, but those are now replaced with these finalized dates, which are delayed due to the pandemic. 

Call for Presentations

We are calling for presentations and papers addressing the themes of mobility, digital citizenship and the student experience.  There have been some valuable learnings during the pandemic, including those that resulted in the shift to accommodate the digital delivery of education and work and those that shone a light on gaps in accessibility to education, health and safety, and sustainable work. We welcome proposals that represent how your organisation is adapting and changing, new policy priorities, innovations in technology, emerging collaborations that address any of the conference themes, and more.  

This annual meeting examines issues of mobility, digital citizenship, the student experience and recognition through many different lenses and we welcome your thoughtful proposals accordingly. The pandemic has changed the narrative, so we anticipate receiving very creative and engaging proposals.  Please submit your proposal by completing the following online form by June 1, 2021.  Decisions regarding successful submissions will be communicated by June 30, 2021. 

Inviting bids to host future annual meetings 

As President of the Groningen Declaration Network’s Board of Directors, it is my pleasure to invite you to sumbit a bid as host of a future GDN annual meeting in the years after 2022. 

Hosting a GDN annual meeting entitles the bidding consortium to showcase business partnerships and initiatives on a global stage; highlight the strengths of your country and local partners; and position consortium stakeholders as prominent players in the digital credentials ecosystem.  

Expectations placed on the host include coverage of local costs such as venue rental; creation of conference art collaterals; catering; provision of local staff to provide assistance with visa applications, signage during the conference; visitor information including hotel accommodation; preferably involvement of local authorities to add to the visibility of the event - please review the attached Bid Brief which provides full details about roles and responsibilities during the entire organization process. 

The review process for bids comprises a first review to check for completeness of the bid; pending the result, representatives of the 3 top bids will then be invited to submit their bid in person, for presentation at the 2021 Annual Meeting.

I trust this invitation meets with your approval and I would be happy to take any questions you might have, please contact me at [email protected]

Yours cordially,
Kathleen Massey, President, GDN  

Launch of new GDN website

The Groningen Declaration Network’s new website provides increased functionality to engage with our signatories and other stakeholders. Key highlights include:

  • The T.R.U.S.T. Hub -  you can now view the location and details of GDN signatories around the world, including trusted digital learner data depositories that enable verification of learner data. 
  • Online signatory application tool - you can now submit your signatory application online and manage the details regarding your signatory status to the Groningen Declaration
  • Exclusive MyGDN content area for signatories - signatories can log in to access previous annual meeting presentation files, recordings of webinars held in 2020 and more. 

Sustainability of the GDN

The GDN is a not-for-profit foundation that would not be in a position to keep you connected and to champion the work of those committed to digital mobility without your support.  Therefore, we are extremely happy to publicly acknowledge and thank our inaugural, first class of GDN Patrons - an important milestone in the GDN’s continued search for funding to sustain its mission. 

GDN Participation - Signatory Billing Cycle

In 2019, the GDN Board of Directors decided to align the annual signatory billing cycle with the GDN Annual Meeting, typically held until then in April/May each year. To make that transit, invoices for the annual signatory fee of 2020 covered sixteen months instead of the normal twelve months. The annual signatory fee for 2020 therefore extends to May 31, 2021.
When COVID-19 broke out, it led to the cancellation of the 2020 annual meeting, massive loss of income and postponement of the 2021 annual meeting. The decision to hold the 2021 annual meeting in November, with future meetings tentatively scheduled henceforward in the Fall, made the board revise its meeting-to-meeting signatory billing cycle. 

For 2021, your annual signatory fees will be pro-rated, covering the period June to December 2021. Please keep an eye out for your annual signatory fee invoice during April, for payment by May 31st 2021. Early January 2022, the billing cycle will shift to the fiscal year of January – December.

GDN on LinkedIn

On 24 March, the GDN LinkedIn Followers Group reached its first milestone, with Andrew Mooijman becoming follower nr. 1,000! Currently, the counter stands at 1,011, with new followers signing up every few days. 

Coming Soon - Signatory Digital Certificates by Paradigm

What if your organization could show its commitment to the GDN by posting a digital certificate that acknowledges just that, for all the world to see? Paradigm CEO Chris Jackson and Paradigm CIO Tom Black - former director on the inaugural GDN board of Directors - suggested that Paradigm offer a self-attesting certificate that can be posted on LinkedIn or any other social outlet.

Keeping in step with the way educational certificates and diplomas transit into digital credentials, the Paradigm-GDN Confirmation of Signatory Status follows the verbiage and lay out of traditional degree certificates, decked out in an intricate fine-line background reminiscent of high value documents such as bank notes, passports, driving licences etc., all conveying a notion of trust.



Ethics and sustainability in sponsorship

Contributor: Nicholas Gennaro Sciasci

In 2020, VETASSESS was the official sponsor for the GDN Annual Meeting conference bags. When the GDN canceled the in-person conference due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the possibility the bags could go to waste became of great concern. As socially responsible organizations, being mindful of carbon footprints, sustainability, and alleviation of basic needs for the poor, GDN and VETASSESS came up with a plan to offer the bags to an Indian charity in honor of the meeting's host country.

VETASSESS and the GDN decided to donate the bags to New Delhi-based Tamana-School of Hope for distribution to the children attending the school, with the intent to be used for their books and materials. As a non-profit voluntary organization in special consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council, Tamana empowers children born with special needs to strengthen their functional independence. The School of Hope, India's first rehabilitative and research center for autistic individuals, provides holistic services from ages two years onward and serves as a special school, sensory integration clinic, and early intervention and diagnostic center. We are humbled to contribute and support Tamana's mission and tremendously value their heartfelt and inspiring work.

The GDN would like to extend its sincerest gratitude to VETASSESS for their continued support, commitment, and generosity as a sponsor and signatory. It has been a privilege to work with the VETASSESS Team, particularly Rob Thomason - Executive Director, in selecting a recipient to reinforce our commitment to social responsibility and the ethical principles that drive the Groningen Declaration Network.

Introducing the new GDN focused position at DAAD

In December 2020, the DAAD - the German Academic Exchange Service – posted a job opening for a new position: Senior Desk Officer Digitalisation, focusing on the Groningen Declaration and the representation of the interests of Germany’s Foreign Cultural Policy AKBP in this think tank.

With this position now filled by Barbara Schwarzwald, she and Alexander Knoth, Chief Digital Officer at DAAD, explain here the background for this new position, with Barbara introducing herself at the end.

The DAAD is a proud signatory of the Groningen Declaration since 2019. In our Strategy 2025, we identified digital transformation as a driving factor of international cooperation and committed ourselves to seize opportunities of digitalisation to increase the efficiency and sustainability of global cooperation.

One step in this direction is an increased involvement in international cooperation initiatives like the GDN. In our strategic position as a central international representative of the German higher education system, the DAAD is ideally suited to connect national and international projects and expertise.

Our involvement ranges from direct project participation, e.g. in a Digital Credentials Project (DiBiHo) exploring an infrastructure standard for digital verifiable credentials in the German higher education ecosystem; over advisory input, e.g. in European projects like EDSSI; to influencing policy-making and pushing for further international cooperation, e.g. within the Digital Education Action Plan. In addition, improving international student data portability will support and streamline the mobility scholarships programs we oversee ourselves.

Thanks to the support of the Federal Foreign Office and its cultural relations and education policy, Barbara Schwarzwald, filling the new position at the DAAD Digitalisation Section – S01, will be spearheading our effort to ensure continued engagement with the GDN and its co-signatories worldwide as well as projects aligned with GDN's objectives.
“I intend to bring my passion for international collaboration and my personal fascination as a computer scientist with the incredible potential of technical innovation to my work within the GDN.”

Barbara Schwarzwald, Senior Desk Officer Digitalisation, DAAD Digitalisation Section – S01
[email protected] 


On behalf of the Board of Directors, I look forward to your feedback and suggestions and hope to (re)connect later this year, in Ottawa.

Kathleen Massey
President, GDN (2020-2021)
On behalf of the Board of Directors



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