Page 20 - Campus Technology, May/June 2019
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Blockchain sara friedman
Going Beyond the Digital Diploma
Managing digital transcripts is the top use case for blockchain in the higher education space, but more colleges and universities are starting to explore the technology’s potential in new ways.
IN 2017, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Central New Mexico Com- munity College became the first institutions in the United States to experiment with offer- ing students the option to receive a digital diploma through a blockchain-based app. Once students graduate, they can use their phones to download a copy of their diplomas as a JSON file, and that file can be shared with employers who confirm the information through a degree verification portal.
“From a trust and immediacy of information standpoint, we saw the real potential of put- ting trusted and effective records out into the world,” said Mary Callahan, senior associate dean and registrar at MIT. “Fraud was one of my motivations because we wanted to make sure that we could have something that is tamperproof, has data-rich verification and is readable by humans and machines.”
Both institutions use the Blockcerts open standard that was developed at the MIT Media Lab and by Learning Machine as an alternative to the burdensome process used by most col- leges and universities through the National Student Clearinghouse. With Blockcerts, the process for verifying a diploma is simplified into two steps rather than waiting on the Clearinghouse to certify the credentials.
Now, other institutions like Southern New CAMPUS TECHNOLOGY | May/June 2019
Hampshire University and East Coast Poly- technic Institute University are following the lead of MIT and CNM and using Blockcerts to explore how digital diplomas can be used to make the verification process easier for their students.
“We see great opportunities with this plat- form to create a more streamlined approach to help with students transferring, receiving degrees, honoring requests to verify degrees and to admit new students and evaluate their transcripts,” said ECPI University CIO Jeff Arthur. “The ability to let someone hold all of their accomplishments on their phone and have them to share with anybody in a way that is secure and reliable — without having to chase down entities to verify — is attrac- tive to us.”
Transcripts Reimagined
The ability to offer and share transcripts via the Blockcerts app is close to fruition, accord- ing to Natalie Smolenski, senior vice president of business development at Learning Machine. “Learning Machine’s product has evolved to accommodate additional use cases including transcripts, which we are launching this sum- mer,” she noted. “We are going to offer the capability to display much more granular, structured data, which you would need for

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