Nine Universities Partner To Create Blockchain Platform For Digital Academic Credentials

Blockchain, Education, News | April 24, 2019 By:

A new group has been formed by nine major universities in order to create a trusted, distributed, and shared infrastructure standard for issuing, storing, displaying, and verifying academic credentials, digitally.

Called Digital Credentials, the new group will explore how recent advances in public key infrastructures, public ledgers, and blockchains can be used to rethink the way we recognize and transact with academic achievements.

The universities working on this effort include Delft University of Technology (The Netherlands), Harvard University Division of Continuing Education (USA), the Hasso Plattner Institute (University of Potsdam, Germany), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (USA), Tecnologico de Monterrey (Mexico), TU Munich (Germany), UC Berkeley (USA), UC Irvine (USA), and the University of Toronto (Canada).

“Currently, those who successfully complete a degree from an institution must go back to that institution — sometimes by mail or even in person — each time there is a need to verify the academic credentials earned,” said Sanjay Sarma, MIT vice president for open learning. “This can be a complicated problem, especially if the learner no longer has access to the university. Such is the case with many refugees, immigrants, and displaced populations.”

According to the group, digital credentials allow learners to maintain a compelling and verifiable digital record of their lifelong learning achievements that may include badges, internships, bootcamps, certificates, MicroMasters and stackable combinations, as well as traditional degrees — all of which they can easily share with employers or other institutions.

The group plans to build upon earlier efforts by the participating institutions, including MIT’s pilot program for issuing all of its graduates a digital version of their diploma that is verified against a blockchain. Their objective is to develop a platform that could transform credentials into tokens of social and human capital that can create new opportunities for participation in education and industry.

“Digital credentials are like tokens of social and human capital and hold tremendous value for the individual,” said Philipp Schmidt, director of learning innovation at the MIT Media Lab. “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.”