The University of Melbourne will become the first Australian educational institution to pilot blockchain technology by recording student credentials on a distributed ledger.
The Australian university will pilot the blockchain tech developed by US-based Learning Machine, an industry startup that will enable employers to verify student credentials on a micro-credentials system. Although largely undefined, micro-credentials aim to recognize additional abilities and discrete skills related to the program or certification. Notably, Learning Machine is associated with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Media Lab, an initiative notable for its research and endeavor in the bitcoin- and blockchain-space.
Professor Gregor Kennedy, pro-vice chancellor of teaching and learning at the university underlined the need for new innovations in record-keeping as employers seek to recognize new types of skillsets.
“In a future where career ‘chum’ and constant technical and organizational innovation are the norm, employers are looking for ways to verify the know-how and skills of employees at a very granular level,” the professor stated.
Similarly, students are increasingly interested in showing the specific skills and abilities they have acquired and developed. Micro-credentials, verified through secure, distributed platforms like Learning Machine’s are a means to address this.
A piece of evidence, like a video or audio of a classroom interaction with the student, relating to their learning or skill set will be required to earn a micro-credential.
The platform will enable blockchain users to download an app which they can then use to invite educational institutions to lodge their credentials on the incorruptible ledger. Using the app, users can also choose other organizations to share these records with, according to Learning Machine’s head of business development and cultural anthropologist Natalie Smolenski.
Anyone who needs to verify official records, such as employers, can quickly check the validity and authenticity of each certificate. Any attempt to change, embellish, or otherwise misrepresent a micro-credential represented by a certificate will cause the verification to fail.
The University of Melbourne will join a select group of universities worldwide to trial the blockchain system and will be trialed in an internal professional development program this July in the university. A larger, sweeping roll-out is planned to be greenlit for 2018.
Images of University of Melbourne from Shutterstock.