Sharing Digital Learning Credentials with Self Sovereign Identity

SSI offers an architecture for a decentralized model of sharing digital certificates and badges.

As described in a previous blog a key technology for building engaging EdTech experiences are digital badges.

Providers of digital badge services can host the credentials, and furthermore through technologies like ‘Self Sovereign Identity’ they can be distributed, shared and used to underpin access and authentication methods.

SSI and Digital Recognition Networks

The building block of how these are work are an aspect of Digital Identity technologies, notably the sharing of ‘Verifiable Credentials‘, the mechanism for different digital services to recognize those login details provided by another. Self Sovereign Identity is an approach that implements a decentralized vs a centralized model, ie. the user is ‘sovereign’, in control and ownership of their own credentials.

In his blog Amit Jasuja explains the core mechanics of this and how multiple organizations can share digital identity services, an ecosystem of ‘relying’ and ‘issuing’ parties.

This is how the core mechanic of sharing and recognizing credentials between organizations is achieved.

Writing for the CPHR Terrahub explains the principle and describes this system as a ‘Digital Recognition Network‘, through exploring an excellent use case of how this will take shape and the economic benefits it will bring: Education and Employment.

“In a recognition network, skills and credentials are represented by digital badges that organizations use for achievement and an employee can us for permanent external branding during or post-employment.

As brands move global and geographical boundaries dissolve, these recognition networks enable talent to shift and move without having to re-qualify their competency, eliminating frustration for the employee, and inefficiency for the employer by getting the right people to work fast.”

Education and Employment is a great scenario as the core components are easily understood: The credential – Your academic qualification in certificate form, and the recognition – How employers seek that qualification as a requirement for employment.

Digital Wallets

In Amit Jasuja’s blog he references an ‘Identity Wallet’, and in his Medium blog Timothy Ruff provides an excellent, detailed summary of this interconnected ecosystem will begin to take shape and the role these wallets will play, functioning as a ‘Learner Wallet‘.

He explains how:

  • Organizations like the T3 Innovation Network, within the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, are developing Learning and Employment Records, powered by the same VC standards and technologies that enable self-sovereign student ID, with the same issue, hold, verify model to/from an SSI wallet, which they call a “learner wallet” for simplicity.
  • This will help reduce and eliminate student fraud. Once organizations realize they can receive cryptographic proof directly from the student, they can lessen their reliance on passwords, social security numbers, and other personal information.

Canada: MyCreds

As this news highlights one of the first customers to harness this capability is the Association of the Registrars of the Universities and Colleges of Canada (ARUCC), choosing Digitary as the solution provider for the Made for Canada National Network.

This has been followed by launching ‘MyCreds‘, a national, bilingual credential wallet supported by a comprehensive website for Canada’s post-secondary community and learners.

This initiative means the Canadian higher education community is creating the very first online platform and national credential wallet for post-secondary learners. Once fully operational, the Network will enable 3 million learners across the country to access and share their official digitized post-secondary transcripts and credentials online – anytime, anywhere.

Power to the People

The SSI approach can play a big part in “democratizing education”. As Digitary CTO Takis Diakoumis writes:

“Portable learner credentials and the ability to securely assert claims to knowledge is the key enabler in ensuring this freedom of movement across places of learning and work. In exploring the next sustainable ecosystem for learners, we begin to note the technological evolution of self-sovereignty and the broader reimagination of our digital identity.”

“SSI enables the sharing of data in a new, controlled and trusted way, a way where no one can take it away or switch it off. A new foundational connection between institutions and learners is formed where we can completely reimagine the learner relationship, for life. The enormous impact is beyond any one sector. It is about human connections and digital trust; about how we relate to the world around us and where learners become the cornerstone of the next digital revolution.”

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