Digital Credential Ecosystem / Marketplace

Overview

Digital credentials are similar to digital badges in the sense that they create opportunities for learners and workers to demonstrate qualifications, skill sets, claims, or achievements through digital certificates or documents. They are building blocks of verified learning. Digital credentials are verified and awarded through the digital credential ecosystem.

Issuers include schools, colleges, and training organizations. Receivers include workers and employers. An ecosystem or marketplace of schools, training programs, institutions, industries, employers, and career pathways allows for the issuing, awarding, and verification of these digital credentials and gives them validity.

The ecosystem includes open standards and ensures that individuals can operate and transfer their skills across systems, so that they may have more career opportunities. Digital credentials allow for more detailed definitions and specific assessments of skills. With the digital credential ecosystem, learners can demonstrate their experiences to employers looking to upskill their teams.

1EdTech/IMS Global Learning Consortium/: The digital credentials ecosystem is based on open standards that show the whole learner at every step of their journey, ensure interoperability across systems, and open the doors to opportunity today and tomorrow. An education-to-employment ecosystem [is] when institutions and employers collaborate, learning outcomes and skills are aligned so a learner's credentials can be verified and matched instantly to the right job. Today's digital credentials are how educators award achievement, learners stack their experiences, and employers find the perfect match and upskill their teams.

McClennen & Vander Ark, GETTINGSMART: Digital credentials are becoming the new building blocks of a system of verified learning. Compared to courses, credentials typically have a smaller grain size allowing for more detailed definitions and more specific assessment of skills and capabilities. To be widely adopted, digital credentials require valid and reliable assessments and a marketplace of recipients (i.e., higher ed and employers) that rely on verified skill assertions. A 2021 Credential Engine report cataloged nearly one million credentials suggesting strong early adoption. Badgr and Credly are supporting the development of digital credential marketplaces of issuers (schools, colleges, training orgs) and receivers (employers, higher ed). They integrate with widely adopted learning management systems (like Canvas) and distributed ledger learner record systems (like Greenlight Credentials). Digital credentials are collected in learner records aligned with IMS or xAPI standards.

Ecosystem Relationship

Education and employment ecosystems allow education institutions and employers to collaborate so that learning outcomes are aligned. This means an individual’s credential can be more effectively verified. Digital credential ecosystems require reliable assessments and rely on verified skill assertions.

Types/Examples

Credly is a badging platform and network of 3,000+ certification, assessment, and training providers and employers which issue their credentials. Credly provides a range of tools for digital badging to include creating badge templates, showing live job postings to their users to help connect them with relevant job opportunities. and analyzing issued badge performance with in-depth data analytics. The network has resulted in a catalog of 90,000+ learnings, including 95% of the top IT certifications.

A badging platform, Badgr is a suite of digital credentialing tools used to create, award and store digital badges (also called microcredentials, digital credentials, etc.). A key feature of the platform is its learning pathways functionality.  A Badgr pathway allows administrators to map out the connection between different badges. 

GreenLight is a database of consensually shared and synchronized documents across multiple sites, institutions, or geographies, accessible by multiple people within the GreenLight Ecosystem. It allows transactions to have public "witnesses." The participant at each node of the network can access these uploaded documents shared across the network and own an identical copy. Any changes or additions to the ledger are reflected and copied “to all participants in seconds or minutes. This distributed ledger stands in contrast to a centralized catalog, which is the type of ledger that most companies use. A centralized ledger is more prone to cyber-attacks and fraud, as it has a single point of failure.”Through blockchain, a decentralized ledger of all transactions across a peer-to-peer network, participants can confirm transactions without a need for a central clearing authority. Through distributed ledger technology, GreenLight Credentials empowers individuals to own their credentials awarded from high schools, colleges and universities, and employers. GreenLight Credentials ensure transparency and compliance while reducing administrative overhead and regulatory burden.

The Wellspring Project brings institutions and employers together to drive the use of digital credentials across the board, automate the matching of credentials with education and opportunities, and empower individuals to find jobs.

In December 2022, the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO) issued the “Implementation of the IMS Global Comprehensive Learner Record Standard: A Practical Guide for Campus Personnel” – a guide to help registrars, admissions officers, student affairs professionals and campus IT personnel as they implement and share Comprehensive Learner Records (CLRs).  

See Also

Definitions & Use of Key Terms & Concepts in Incremental Credentialing from Credential As You Go.

Digital badge: A digital badge (aka e-badge) is a digital representation of individuals’ achievements, consisting of an image and metadata uniquely linked to the individual’s skills. Digital badges have an issuer (institution that testifies), an earner (learner), and a displayer (site that houses the badge). Badges can be displayed, accessed, and verified online.

Digital platforms: A digital platform is a technology-enabled software solution, an interactive online service that allows exchanges of information, tools, and resources. Three main types of platforms serve components of the learn-and-work ecosystem: (1) learning platforms, (2) business and workforce development platforms, and (3) career navigation platforms.

References

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