In the post-COVID-19 world, people will need to take full control over their academic credentials, such as degrees and transcripts. This argument got a huge boost when the American Council on Education released a study for the United States Department of Education that looked into the application of blockchain in higher education.
Ted Mitchell, the President of ACE, argued that blockchain holds the promise to usher in a more efficient and durable connection between education and work. “In the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, learners will be more mobile, moving in and out of formal education as their job, health, and family situations change,” expressed Mitchell.
In the report, one of the most notable themes is data agency, especially how blockchain can help democratize data and empower people to take control over their personal information.
“Currently, when individuals need to prove their education and work history, they rely on institutions and past employers to verify education and workforce records. However, the institutions or employers may not be available, the records could have been lost or destroyed, or in the case of higher education, individuals may be required to pay fees….,” the report noted.
Digital Credentials: Will They Be a Commonplace in 2-3 Years?
According to Kim Hamilton, an architect for the Digital Credentials Consortium, the COVID-19 pandemic has hastened the demand for digital credentials. “Because of that and existing educational blockchain-related pilots, I expect these credentials will be commonplace over the next 2–3 years,” added Hamilton.
One of the most interesting things about the projects using decentralized identifiers architecture is that they had no privileged roles. This means that anyone can be an issuer, according to Christopher Allen, the principal architect of Blockchain Commons.
Meanwhile, experts appear in agreement that the current system is broken and untenable. The biggest challenge is that of fake certificates. “There are diploma mills and online shops around … you can even select the right paper thickness and seals” expressed Hans Pongratz, the chief information officer at the Technical University of Munich.
Blockchain Application: Can It Help to Change the Labor Market
The traditional system is only a start when it comes to the blockchain industry. Beyond academic credentials, technology is expected to have a huge impact on the labor market. Experts are insisting that we have to go beyond the credentials. For example, Duffy noted that if you attended college but did not finish, it is tantamount to having nothing.
Traditional education only contributes a small portion of what a person learns. We are constantly learning, but there is no evidence to back informal learning. This is where blockchain is coming into play to ensure that competence-based descriptions can help provide a clear picture of a person’s abilities. It will be more relevant to the labor market.
Blockchain is like a hammer looking for a nail, and one of those nails is academic credentials. The new world of the decentralized and tamper-free ledger of verifiable credentials will be so important for both education and the labor market.
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