Meeting the Moment: A Look at the State of Digital Credentials

April 4, 2021
  • AACRAO Annual Meeting
  • Credential Evaluation
  • Research
  • blockchain
  • Credential Evaluation
  • Credentials
  • Research and Analysis
Digital Credentials

Annual Meeting 2021 Session: Meeting The Moment - Current and Future State of Digital Credentials of Value

This session provided highlights of ACCRAO's recent digital credentials survey and offered insights and information about the future state of digital credentials. Presenters also examined other innovative approaches to credentialing in higher education.

In addition to this session, AACRAO also released a report that further examines the current state of the credentialing ecosystem and encourages the adoption of new or enhanced technologies to meet the needs of the changing landscape.

Presenters: Dr. Wendy Kilgore, AACRAO Director of Research, Mary Strain, Hyland Representative, and Dr. Cameron McCoy, Vice President and Vice Provost for Strategic Initiatives at Lehigh University.

Digital credentials and blockchain

For institutions of higher education, the digital credential can provide proof of competence, training, qualification, or educational attainment tied to an individual. A digital credential facilitated by blockchain enables decentralized networks to record and verify a history of transactions in a tamper-proof format.

Throughout the session presenters emphasized that most end-users will not necessarily need to understand the technical complexities of blockchain technology as this will be handled “behind-the-scenes”. 

The advantages of using blockchain for digital credentials are numerous and for issuers can be a mostly seamless transition. Some of the benefits for issuers include:

  • Ability to follow existing workflows

  • Ability to leverage existing systems

  • Automatic issuance and revocation

  • Credentials are cryptographically sealed

  • Can mirror existing designs

  • Can easily update form factors: CLR, LER, Enhanced with additional metadata

Benefits for recipients include:

  • Can be received via email

  • Ability to make multiple copies of the “document”

  • May be shared digitally

  • Control of their academic records and identities

  • Selective disclosure

In closing the session one of the key points made regarding the use of blockchain technology in higher education is that the question isn’t “if”, but “when”. The adoption of blockchain technology is quickly becoming the standard rather than the exception and higher education institutions will need to facilitate this change or risk playing catch-up in the future.

Download the report: Transforming the Digital Credentials Space. Want to stay up-to-date on AACRAO Annual Meeting news? Join the list.