Forward-thinking educational institutions are jumping on the digital credential bandwagon. Increasingly, they understand that verifiable digital credentials provide many benefits for universities, colleges, and their students. So what are digital credentials? At a basic level, they include both digital badges and digital certificates. Digital certificates represent a more major accomplishment, while digital badges are issued for smaller-level accomplishments, such as the completion of a project or course. For higher educational institutions, digital credentials automate the process of recording student achievements and milestones. They are especially helpful in maintaining, tracking and managing credentials over time. More importantly, they drastically reduce the risk of identity fraud, they streamline processes, enable organizations to distribute records safely, and reduce costs. They are perhaps even more important to students. Not only do they allow students to more easily view and manage their own credentials, but they can more easily use them to help further their academic and job prospects. What's more, the report found that traditional transcripts are not serving students and the workforce because they don’t connect student’s capabilities with workforce needs.
Blockchain—basically a time-stamped digital ledger of transactions that becomes permanent, transparent and searchable—is a natural basis for digital certificates. With this technology, digital certificates become instantly verifiable anywhere in the world. In fact, it is the most comprehensive global solution for recognizing skills, capabilities, and achievements, reaching everywhere learning takes place and skills are assessed. Blockchain improves the digital certificate process significantly over previous methods. The traditional way of confirming the authenticity of a credential is through a conventional spreadsheet-based digital record system. This is manual, time-consuming and costly. And if the issuing organization ceases to exist, records are lost and unverifiable. According to one report, blockchain will effectively end paper-based certificates, such as paper transcripts. It will also automate the process of transferring credits, increasing learner ownership and control over their own data. Gartner goes even further, noting that the most promising use case for blockchain, at least for higher education, is to transform the record-keeping of degrees, certificates and diplomas. One Gartner survey found that although only 2 percent of higher education respondents have already deployed blockchain, another 18 percent were planning to do so within the next 24 months.
With blockchain-enabled technology, we at QualEphy provide a more robust solution in the form of a distributed network of recorded ledger. This technology cannot be easily altered or taken down, removes single points of failure, and ensures that records can be verified without any organizational dependency. At the same time, it provides in depth insight on credentialing trend and analytics that can help our clients to be competitive in their business. Despite all of these benefits to blockchain-enabled digital certificates, both undergraduate and graduate institutions still lag far behind the industry norm in adopting this type technology internally.But things are looking up. Programs like the PIVOT Project (Partnership for Interoperable Versatile Open Transcripts (PIVOT), offer input from school districts, state education agencies and other educational institutions, aiming to help schools move in the right direction. At the end of the day, the long-term goal is to encourage next generation digital credentialing through the entire educational process, from elementary school through graduate school, and beyond.