Union Public Schools Launches Blockchain-Based Credentials

The Tulsa-based school district is the first in the U.S. to start offering digital diplomas and transcripts using Learning Machine's blockchain-based open standard for digital credentials.

Union High School

Union High School

While blockchain-based credentials are gaining attention in the higher education sector, Union Public Schools in Oklahoma wants to be a trailblazer in bringing the technology to the K-12 market. Starting in June 2019, students will be able to get a digital copy of their diplomas and transcripts that can be verified through Learning Machine's Blockcerts open standard for digital credentials. This is Learning Machine's first partnership with a school district to put credentials in the hands of students for their personal use.

"We want the conversation to continue to be focused on student performance and ultimately graduation," said Todd Borland, executive director of technology for Union PS. "This is another tool to put in our students' hands to keep them focused on furthering their education."

Union PS doesn't offer the typical high school experience to its students. In 2012, the school district announced a plan to make a 100 percent graduation rate possible through offering students a variety of different learning experiences.

Students can take classes in a traditional learning environment or they can experiment with gaining college credits or career experience while still in school. Starting in the fall, Union PS is launching a next-generation virtual program where students in the school district can earn a high school diploma fully online.

"We are constantly challenging ourselves to think about how to make this experience relevant for our kids and instill a lot more ownership or provide more self-regulatory theory in their educational experience," said Kirt Hartzler, superintendent of Union PS. "We treat our kids like more of a college environment where we give them a lot of freedom in terms of their schedule and school day."

By giving students the ability to control who can assess their diplomas and academic transcripts, the blockchain-based system is giving students the ability to take charge of their college or career futures, Borland and Hartzler said. Transcripts will be written into the Blockcerts system twice a year at the end of each semester and employers or college admissions staff will have the ability to see the most recent academic transcript entry for each student.

Union PS is working with Tulsa-based education technology provider 3Dream Studios, which is an authorized reseller of Learning Machine technologies, to make the blockchain-based credentials solution a reality. Learning Machine has partnerships with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Central New Mexico Community College and East Coast Polytechnic Institute University for blockchain-based credentials.

More information about Learning Machine's blockchain-based credentialing solution can be found here.

About the Author

Sara Friedman is a reporter/producer for Campus Technology, THE Journal and STEAM Universe covering education policy and a wide range of other public-sector IT topics.

Friedman is a graduate of Ithaca College, where she studied journalism, politics and international communications.

Friedman can be contacted at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @SaraEFriedman.

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