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U.S. government funds Education Blockchain Initiative for credentials

graduates education credentials

Last week the American Council for Education said it received funding from the U.S. Department of Education to explore blockchain in education. Specifically, it will explore how to use credentials to share data amongst educational institutions and with employers, but at the same time giving learners control over their data.

“This work is about exploring the potential of blockchain technology to give learners greater control over their educational records,” said Ted Mitchell, president of ACE. “It’s about enabling more seamless transitions between and across K-12, higher education, and the workforce.”

The government department says the Education Blockchain Initiative is part of longstanding efforts to give students control over their educational records. It also sees a role for blockchain for certifying corporate training achievements, which attracts $87 billion in annual spending. There are 738,000 unique credentials offered in the United States.

“The ability to demonstrate skills and knowledge is key to translating education into economic opportunity,” said Jim Blew, assistant secretary for planning, evaluation and policy development at the Department of Education. ACE also believes it can be an essential tool in helping workforce mobility.

The initiative has formed a steering committee from colleges, schools and industry such as and JetBlue Technology Ventures.

The first order of business is a research paper into the current usage of the technology. Additionally, it will explore the opportunities and challenges in the sector. The next step will be drawing up criteria to select pilot projects later this year in association with leadership organization, The Presidents Forum.

Credentialing is a popular application

Three months ago, IBM launched the Learning Credential Network in association with multiple organizations, including the National Student Clearinghouse (NSC), which verifies academic qualifications for over 3,700 institutions.

The NSC is also a participant in a new credentialing consortium, the Velocity Network Foundation, which includes SAP, Upwork, talent manager Cornerstone and 11 others.

In it’s recent National Blockchain Roadmap, Australia highlighted credentialing as one of its big three use cases given tertiary education is Australia’s third-largest export.