For students at Central New Mexico Community College, putting academic transcripts on the blockchain may soon replace creating a traditional resume.
The college is part of a new effort called the Learning Credential Network, announced Thursday, that plans to use the same technology popularized by Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies to store academic records in a way that is nearly impossible to counterfeit. Students can send their records without having to ask the college registrar to get involved.
The system is up and running, sort of, but so far officials haven’t finished putting a public user interface on it or launching the public website, says Tobe Phelps, chief technology innovation officer at Central New Mexico Community College. About a dozen people have put their transcripts into the system to test it, and if all goes well the public rollout will happen next summer.
Here’s how it works. Students who want to participate will authorize the college to release their academic transcripts to the blockchain system, selecting how much detail they want to reveal. They can upload proof of passing classes even before they have completed their degrees, and for each class they can choose whether to show what grade they got or simply show that they passed (if they did).
“Students can make it as transparent or obscure as they want,” says Phelps.
Once the public website is up, employers will be able to search the system for people with the skills they are looking for. In some fields, that means students could be recruited even before they have finished their degrees, by employers who will help support them as they finish their education, says Phelps. For high-demand fields like phlebotomy, employers are often eager to find people even before they graduate, he adds.
“Saying you only completed this many courses toward a degree typically doesn’t look that great on your resume,” says Phelps. “But a lot of employers are perfectly willing to pick these people up and helping them finish their degree program,” he adds, especially if the employers can be sure that students have satisfied the degree requirements they claim to have completed.
The new blockchain effort also includes the National Student Clearinghouse, a group that verifies academic credentials, and VetBloom, a learning network for veterinarians. The system will use a blockchain cloud created by IBM.
The college and other participants in the network are each contributing money to pay for the system. Phelps estimated that the college has contributed a couple of hundred thousand to it, hoping that using the blockchain will “give our students an advantage” in finding jobs after they graduate.
Jeffrey R. Young (@jryoung) is a senior editor at EdSurge covering higher education and the future of education. He can be reached at jeff [at] edsurge [dot] com
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