Blockchain

9 Universities to Collaborate on Digital Credentials Initiative

blockchain data

Nine universities have embarked on a new effort to build the next generation of digital credentials. Their mission: to create a new standard for issuing, storing, displaying and verifying academic credentials, based on the latest advances in public key infrastructures, public ledgers and blockchains. The institutions involved are Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, Harvard University Division of Continuing Education, Hasso Plattner Institute at the University of Potsdam in Germany, MIT, Tecnológico de Monterrey in Mexico, Technical University of Munich in Germany, University of California, Berkeley, University of California, Irvine and the University of Toronto in Canada.

"As teaching and learning offered by our universities has come to encompass digital platforms, and as each of our learners have gained the power to shape their own educational trajectory over a lifetime, the question of trusted verification and authentication of learning and credentials poses itself with broad urgency," noted Diana Wu, dean of university extension and new academic ventures at UC Berkeley, in a statement.

Researchers from the universities plan to build on pioneering efforts such as MIT's Blockcerts pilot, to create a trusted, distributed and shared infrastructure that will allow learners to:

  • Maintain a verifiable record of lifelong learning achievements (including badges, internships, bootcamps, certificates, MicroMasters and stackable credentials, as well as traditional degrees);
  • Receive credentials digitally and safely;
  • Share credentials with employers or other institutions;
  • Own their credentials forever, without having to ask or pay their institution for a transcript; and
  • Compile and curate credentials received from multiple educational institutions.

"Alternative digital credentials fill an important gap between learning and work-relevant skill verification. The adoption of an ADC system will allow universities to achieve greater alignment with the demands of both students and local economies, making universities more accountable for what they produce," commented Gary W. Matkin, dean of Continuing Education and vice provost of Career Pathways at UC Irvine. "Young adults are demanding shorter, relevant education that they can put to immediate use. Industry hiring practices will increasingly depend on digital searches for job candidates and ADCs will make those competencies easier to discover."

"Digital credentials are like tokens of social and human capital and hold tremendous value for the individual. The crucial opportunity we have today is to bring together institutions that share a commitment to the benefit of learners, and who can act as stewards of this infrastructure," said Philipp Schmidt, director of learning innovation at the MIT Media Lab.

"Our shared vision is one where academic achievements, and the corresponding credentials that verify them, can open up new pathways for individuals to become who they want to be in the future," said José Escamilla, director of TecLabs Learning Reimagined at Tecnologico de Monterrey.

For more information, visit the Digital Credentials project website.

About the Author

About the author: Rhea Kelly is executive editor for Campus Technology. She can be reached at rkelly@1105media.com.

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