Blockchain technology powering 'digital diplomas'

Saturday, April 21, 2018
Blockchain technology powering 'digital diplomas'
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The records aren't just links to your paper diploma.

If you've heard of the term 'blockchain', the only thing you probably know about it is that it's the technology that allows for the safe transaction of cryptocurrency such as bitcoin.

But it is so much more.

In today's world where data may be a much hotter commodity than money, the blockchain is allowing for pre-verified professional records that are changing the way we search for, and nab, our dream jobs.

Just ask students at Southern New Hampshire University, Central New Mexico Community College and MIT. They now need to look no further than their phones to call up their diplomas, diplomas that use blockchain technology to provide students with digital credentials.

"The whole point of it is to enable learners to take their credentials with them anywhere in the world and have them instantly verified," says Natalie Smolenski VP of Business Development for Learning Machine Technologies, the company that developed the technology used at the schools, along with MIT.

If you're wondering what the big deal is, the records aren't just links of your paper diploma. Smolenski says once a university issues you a diploma into a special program, a digital version of the document -- with layers of security -- is stamped onto a blockchain, a system that encodes information so that it is virtually "unhackable" and tamper proof.

The best part? Anyone can verify authenticity at any time.

When you get the digital version there's a verify button at the bottom that checks for four things:

Ensures the document has not been altered

The digital signature is valid

The person presenting the document is the same as the person the document belongs to

Whether anything has expired or if something has been revoked, like a professional license

You can get work credentials certified, too, which, experts say, is big for businesses. A recent survey found 85% of employers say they've uncovered some kind of untruth on a candidate's resume or job application. Smolenski says, "It's really hard to verify those credentials. It's a lengthy and cumbersome process."

In fact, according to Appii, a company that specializes in verifying resume information on the blockchain, it can cost employers anywhere from one-hundred-fifty to three thousand dollars to have a resume verified.

Appii co-founder Gary McKay tells us, "There is no doubt that a jobs seeker with a verified resume will be given precedence."

Experts say you don't need to understand how blockchain works, just that when it comes to how information about you is stored and shared, it is putting you back in the driver's seat.

"It is your right to own your identity. That means it's also your right to own your official records, your diplomas, your professional certifications, your identity documents," says Smolenski.

Learning Machine is also works with institutions, such as the Federation of State Medical Boards and is working with the Republic of Malta as the entire country tries to digitize records on a grand scale in the blockchain.

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