Credentials

MIT Media Lab, Learning Machine Tackle Blockchain-Based Credentials

The MIT Media Lab's Learning Initiative has teamed up with Learning Machine to release the initial version of an open-source project designed to build an ecosystem for creating, sharing and verifying education credentials based on blockchain technology.

Using the Bitcoin blockchain, the certificates can be shared with anyone who requires documentation as simply as sending a link and future versions will add features to improve real-world usability, such as versioning, revocation, cohort issuance, document encryption and cost reducation.

"The goal of our collaboration with the MIT Media Lab is to empower individuals with shareable credentials that can be used peer-to-peer and verified as authentic," said Chris Jagers, co-founder and CEO of Learning Machine, in a prepared statement. "The current system for sharing official records is slow, complicated, expensive, and broken for everyone in a myriad of ways. The first generation of students to grow up entirely during the Internet age have started applying for college, and many admissions officers can share stories about applicants trying to text photos of their academic records. The expectation, while seemingly humorous, conveys an honest impression about the way things should work. It should be that easy for people to share certified records directly with others and have them trusted as authentic."

"Blockchain verification flips the current power arrangement in higher education by giving learners control over their official documents," said Dan Hughes, Learning Machine president and COO, in a news release. "Today, most evidence of achievement is bottled up in a proprietary information system or stored unofficially on a piece of paper framed on a wall or lost in a box in the garage. Jailbreaking the credential is about every learner being able to directly see and share verified evidence of what they have achieved. A curated view of one's achievements, shared at whatever level of granularity is appropriate, puts the learner's privacy and self-expression on equal footing with institutional demand for proof."

About the Author

Joshua Bolkan is contributing editor for Campus Technology, THE Journal and STEAM Universe. He can be reached at jbolkan@gmail.com.

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