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Modern Campus to Use Blockchain for Verifying Credentials

The ed-tech company BCdiploma is lending its blockchain tool for verifying credentials to Modern Campus and its course management system for students, reducing the need for paper transcripts and certifications.

Blockchain database concept illustrated.
According to a 2018 study from the French research firm Florian Mantione Institute, nearly 70 percent of investigated job applicant resumes included misleading information, and 29 percent of diploma fraud cases involve someone submitting a diploma they didn’t earn. The scope of academic fraud has created a demand for digital tools that would allow employers to quickly verify an applicant’s qualifications.

To help prevent credential fraud and recruitment mistakes, the Canada-based ed-tech company Modern Campus has partnered with French blockchain software developer BCdiploma to use its online tool for storing and sharing career credentials via blockchain, the open source digital ledger technology behind cryptocurrencies.

Chad Rowe, Modern Campus' vice president of product, said the partnership will integrate Modern Campus' Destiny One student course management system with BCdiploma’s blockchain credential-sharing software, allowing Destiny One users to digitally authenticate higher ed and professional development credentials.

Rowe said the aim of the partnership is to make forgery-proof records of college degrees, professional development certifications and transcripts more accessible and verifiable. The soon-to-be integrated program will allow students to quickly obtain and share digital proof of qualifications via a link controlled by the issuer.

“Many institutions have one or more full-time dedicated individuals just to pull transcripts of former students and get them printed out and sent out,” he noted. “That all takes a lot of time and money to do, and it’s difficult to share with others.”

Rowe said higher education institutions in the North American ed-tech market have increasingly expressed interest in using blockchain technology for digital credential verification and sharing, leading the partnership to the planned integration of their platforms next year. Rowe said the extra security offered by blockchain has appealed to potential higher ed clients, as well as its convenience.

“Anyone ... would be able to see what that person earned and the institution that issued it,” Rowe said. “What’s attracting people to digital credentials is portability. It’s very easy for a learner to post it on their LinkedIn profile, their Facebook or even their Twitter feed, and that link takes you back to the [institution that issued the certification or degree] where someone viewing the credential you earned can look at it, understand what skills you earned as part of that coursework and click on one link to validate it.”

According to a study from Modern Campus in collaboration with the University Professional and Continuing Education Association, more than 90 percent of higher ed leaders consider marketing microcredentials to students as a way to stay competitive with enrollment. More than 70 percent of respondents said they consider individual skill-building courses important in meeting revenue and enrollment goals.

"BCdiploma is proud to provide Modern Campus Destiny One customers with one-click access to its services," Luc Jarry-Lacombe, co-founder and CEO of BCdiploma, said in a statement. "What could be better than custom-designed blockchain credentials and badges that can be issued directly from your usual back office?"

Rowe said adult and higher education institutions in the North American ed-tech market have begun to take notice of BCdiploma’s use of digital ledger technology to share credentials. The tool has been used in more than 100 institutions in nearly 20 countries, according to the company's website.

While there are several use cases of digital credential sharing for job-seekers and employers, Rowe said the integrated platform will prove particularly useful for “nontraditional” students engaged in professional workforce development programs.

“Digital credentials give schools a lot of flexibility in being able to unbundle larger degrees into individual components of learning and the skills individuals will get as a result,” he said.

“As more and more people are shying away from a two- or four-year degree due to the expense and debt they might incur, a lot of individuals are realizing they can get what they need in order to reach their professional goals just by taking individual chunks of learning that might represent a single course,” he said. “They want to be able to share their achievements in those skills or competencies or individual courses they took on their resume or LinkedIn profile.”

Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story included a misquote about the public needing an encryption key to view a person's credentials through Modern Campus.
Brandon Paykamian is a staff writer for Government Technology. He has a bachelor's degree in journalism from East Tennessee State University and years of experience as a multimedia reporter, mainly focusing on public education and higher ed.