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Open Badges: Myth Busters!

Open Badges: Myth Busters!

By Simone Ravaioli, Director Strategic Partnerships.

Busting the myths about Open Badges!

By Simone Ravaioli, Director Strategic Partnerships.

Busting the myths about Open Badges!

 

Open Badges are a visual representation of achievements, flexible in order to capture any learning experiences in a standard format – they are open and interoperable. Badges can be issued as formal high-stakes credentials like academic degree certificates at all levels as well as lower-stakes, informal, co-curricular activities. Open Badges are used in academia as well as in the corporate L&D environment, becoming de-facto, common credentialing language that bridges both education and work. Let’s debunk some of the myths about Open Badges…

 

1: Myth: Open Badges are not serious – they are gamification gimmicks. In other words they can only be used for low-stakes credentials in the informal learning space.

Bust: FALSE! Many Universities are using them to represent full Degrees at undergraduate and graduate levels.

 

2: Myth: Open Badges cannot mix with formal qualifications, like degrees.

Bust: FALSE! Open Badges complements formal credentials by adding granularity and comprehensiveness to the degrees, often adding values by adding nuances of soft skills, attitudes and personality traits not captured by qualifications. They are stackable by design and can be used to represent diverse learning pathways across formal and informal learning experiences. 

 

3: Myth: Open Badges are not recognised as valid credentials by employers.

Bust: FALSE! Employers are seeking rich and granular signals as differentiating factors in candidates. The trend is increasingly to “hire for fit and train for skills”. In addition, employers are adopting Open Badges themselves to recognise internal L&D programs or external product certifications (IBM, EY, Microsoft).

 

4: Myth: Open Badges are not sufficiently accredited and distributed as a recognition technology.

Bust: FALSE! Open Badges are a legitimate learning technology standard, officially stewarded by IMS Global. The momentum behind Open Badges has been building since its introduction in the market in 2012 and today more that 25 million Open Badges have been issued across a varied credentials spectrum; academic learning, vocational training, personal and professional development, as well as technical certifications and professional associations.

 

5: Myth: Open Badges are stand-alone digital credentials that do not integrate with existing legacy systems.

Bust: FALSE! Open Badges are an open, interoperable technology that can be easily integrated with LMS (Canvas, Moodle, Mahara), SIS (Workday, Ellucian, Oracle) and ePortfolio platforms (Portfolium, Digication, PebblePad, Pathbrite). Open Badges are also easily shareable across the various social media platforms including LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.

 

Stay tuned for more Badges posts coming soon!

 

For more information, please contact:

Simone Ravaioli

Director Strategic Partnerships

simone.ravaioli@digitary.net 

Power to the People with Self-Sovereign Identity – Part 1

Power to the People with Self-Sovereign Identity – Part 1

By Takis Diakoumis, Chief Technology Officer.

SSI enables the sharing of data in a new, controlled and trusted way

By Takis Diakoumis, Chief Technology Officer.

SSI enables the sharing of data in a new, controlled and trusted way

Supporting learners in our rapidly evolving digital age is critical not only for their own personal development but also for our collective progress as modern societies. We recognise today that learning is not always formal, that it does not only occur during specific stages of our life but is ongoing and is itself evolutionary. Fundamental tenets of the Groningen Declaration – signed to foster and support the portability of academic credentials – reinforce this by elevating global academic and professional mobility as basic rights of learners everywhere.

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.

The core principle around self-sovereign identity (SSI) is the reaffirmation that individuals have complete ownership and control of their personal data and they alone govern how and when that information is shared. Typical digital interactions and the relationships that have formed around them, are ruled by the terms supplied by service providers like the online social and professional networks. Users – learners, can only assert themselves through these platforms on those terms.

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.

Self-sovereign identity and the technological leap over early blockchain usage presents as a powerful solution to handing over ownership and control of learner credentials to the learners themselves. Using innovation to disrupt is at the centre of SSI development as we accelerate towards a world turning traditional notions of who we are on its head.

In the next series of SSI posts, we look to explore the different ways in which SSI can empower learners to take control of their digital identity and assert their academic credentials. We will examine the mechanisms available to start doing some of this today and investigate what the future may hold as this new and rapidly evolving ecosystem is realised.

 

For more information, please contact:

Takis Diakoumis

Chief Technology Officer

takis.diakoumis@digitary.net 

 

 

Digitary launch learner-centric verification solution

Digitary launch learner-centric verification solution

DIGITARY LAUNCH LEARNER-CENTRIC VERIFICATION SOLUTION

DIGITARY have launched a new verification solution aimed at enabling international applicants in their quest for entry to study at institutions across the globe.

DIGITARY LAUNCH LEARNER-CENTRIC VERIFICATION SOLUTION

DIGITARY have launched a new verification solution aimed at enabling international applicants in their quest for entry to study at institutions across the globe.

Traditionally Digitary have earned their reputation as a world leader in digital certification of academic achievements and as a trusted provider of secure verified documents and data to learners, educational organisations, and employers globally. To date the focus has been on outbound digital certification, however, now in an exciting new development Digitary have diversified into digital verification of inbound academic documents and are offering a new streamlined approach to international applicants through their Digitary VIA (Verified International Applicants) solution.

Digitary VIA is now live and available to University of Melbourne international applicants to verify their academic history. Digitary VIA has the ability to eliminate credential fraud and empower faster and more informed assessments by admissions teams.

What is Digitary VIA?
Digitary VIA (Verified International Applicants) enables international applicants to obtain an independently verified digital record of their academic history. Academic records are verified, translated, and evaluated by an internationally trusted, expert credential evaluation team. Verified records are stored in their Digitary wallet, where applicants control the sharing of their records and can retain and re-use as they wish.

Digitary VIA can assist with elimination of credential fraud through back-to-source verification for international applicants; offering a dramatic reduction in cost, effort and stress for admissions and evaluation processes. Applicants provide their explicit consent for processing their personal data in accordance with data privacy and security standards, with the additional benefits for applicants including: evaluations for interim and completed qualifications, translated academic records into English-language versions and applicants receive their own digital wallet to store, retain and re-use their records anywhere, at any time.

About Digitary
Digitary was launched in Dublin, Ireland in 2005, and has grown to become the leading online platform for certifying, sharing, and verifying academic credentials. Learner-centric since the very start, Digitary enables millions of learners to access their verified achievements 24/7 and to share them with others securely, quickly, and easily. To date Digitary have issued over 4 million credentials and empowered more than 1.5 million learners worldwide. Digitary is now used by organisations in over 135 countries.

Quotes attributable to Andy Dowling, CEO Digitary
“We’re delighted to launch this new streamlined solution with the aim of easing the journey of international applicants seeking entry to study. Beyond the pilot we look forward to working collaboratively with our education institutions on the rollout of this ground-breaking project, informed by trusted data and verifiable digital credentials.”

“Digitary is dedicated to our learner-focused approach, in particular when building and providing trusted solutions which empower learners and support their global mobility.”

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AVAILABLE FOR COMMENT:
Digitary CEO – Andy Dowling

MEDIA ENQUIRIES:
Catherine Stanley, Head of Marketing Digitary
catherine.stanley@digitary.net  (+61 3) 9909 7017

Digitary and Irish Australian Chamber of Commerce connect with common aim

Digitary and Irish Australian Chamber of Commerce connect with common aim

DIGITARY AND IRISH AUSTRALIAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE CONNECT

United with a common purpose to enhance and innovate within our shared communities.

DIGITARY AND IRISH AUSTRALIAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE CONNECT WITH COMMON AIM

United with a common purpose to enhance and innovate within our shared communities.

Digitary has joined the impressive list of organisations confirming support and membership of the Irish Australian Chamber of Commerce. We have now cemented our commitment to the Chamber as Corporate Members, with the official announcement made today. The Chamber with its own headquarters in Melbourne has been in existence since the late 1980’s, growing through consistent support and an expanding network to now have presence locally, nationally and internationally.

Education and lifelong learning in its many forms is a shared focus for both Digitary and the Irish Australian Chamber of Commerce. Working collaboratively with our collective networks and partner organisations, Digitary and the Chamber leadership teams will push to build stronger links and increase innovation in Education and the digital learner landscape across the region.

 

“The Irish Australian Chamber of Commerce manifesto resonates strongly with Digitary’s own values, working collaboratively to build an inclusive and diverse network both nationally and internationally, appreciating character, heritage and authentic connections.”

“Digitary is a proud Irish company, founded in Dublin and now with offices and an expanding team globally. We are thrilled to confirm our commitment to the Irish Australian Chamber of Commerce.”

Andy Dowling, CEO Digitary 

“Digitary have already made quite an impression within the Chamber community, catching the eye of the judges at the recent Irish Australian Business Awards where they were named as a Finalist. We are excited to see what the future holds for them.”

“Over the past 2-3 years we have seen a significant rise in the level of interest and activity from Irish and Irish-led businesses in the Education sector. From innovation like Digitary and Quitch, to amazing growth like Keypath and the continued intentional expansion of Prodigy Learning, there’s never been a better time to get involved in the industry with the Chamber.”

Barry Corr, CEO Irish Australian Chamber of Commerce

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Digitary sponsor GDN 2020

Digitary sponsor GDN 2020

DIGITARY ANNOUNCED AS PREMIER SPONSORS OF GRONINGEN DECLARATION NETWORK (GDN) 2020

Digitary are confirmed as the Premier Sponsors of GDN 2020 Annual Meeting, displaying ongoing dedication to enhancing global digital credentialing.

DIGITARY ANNOUNCED AS PREMIER SPONSORS OF GRONINGEN DECLARATION NETWORK (GDN) 2020

Digitary are confirmed as the Premier Sponsors of GDN 2020 Annual Meeting, displaying ongoing dedication to enhancing global digital credentialing.

Under the broad theme of Using Innovation to Disrupt: Creating a Sustainable Digital Ecosystem for  Learners,  stakeholders from around the globe will have the opportunity to convene at GDN 2020 to share experiences, insights and innovations on student mobility, digital credentials and the disruptive technologies creating a global digital ecosystem. Digitary are proud Premier Sponsors once again of this annual event, continuing their support and active contribution to digital credentialing innovation, reinforcing learner-centric focus and supporting global student mobility.

A world leader in digital certification of academic achievements, Digitary is a trusted provider of secure verified documents and data to learners, educational organisations, and employers globally. To date Digitary have issued over 4 million credentials and empowered more than 1.5 million learners worldwide.

GDN 2020 marks the ninth Groningen Declaration Network Annual Meeting, with the events being hosted in Delhi, India. This annual summit is highly regarded and provides a pivotal platform facilitating valuable opportunities for engagement and networking to contributors in the global digital learner data sphere, a space where Digitary are proactive participants.

 

Groningen Declaration Network (GDN)

The Groningen Declaration Network is considered to be one of the main global convenors in the Digital Credentialing Ecosystem, and the annual GDN event is a place where all stakeholders in the global Digital Learner Data Ecosystem can meet, network, exchange information and showcase ongoing pilots and systems developments. To learn more, visit www.groningendeclaration.org

 

“Digitary is passionate about making a positive impact in the global digital credentialing ecosystem and being proactive participants in innovation and collaboration in this space.”

“We’re delighted to confirm our commitment and continue proudly supporting TheGroningen Declaration Network, the GDN Annual Meeting and the important platform that this provides for positive growth and evolution of the digital sector.”

Andy Dowling, CEO Digitary 

“We are thrilled that Digitary is once again our Premier Sponsor of the GDN Annual Meeting, being held 15-17 April 2020 in Delhi, India.”

“Andy Dowling and the Digitary team have been consistent supporters and contributors to the dialogue and developments in the global digital learner data ecosystem.”

Neil Robinson, Board Member and Immediate Past President, Groningen Declaration Network

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Digitary VIA (Verified International Applicants)

Digitary VIA (Verified International Applicants)

Digitary VIA (Verified International Applicants) enables international applicants to obtain an independently verified digital record of their academic history.

Academic records are verified, translated, and evaluated by an internationally trusted, expert credential evaluation team. Verified records are stored in your Digitary wallet, where you control the sharing of your records and can re-use them when applying for further study and/or employment. Accelerate your application!

What are the benefits for Applicants?

  • Enable your application to fast-track with verified digital academic records
  • Access your verified academic documents in your Digitary wallet anywhere, any time
  • Re-use for applications to other institutions and enhance employment opportunities
  • Translated academic records into English-language versions
  • Evaluations for interim qualifications, updated with qualifications upon completion

How does this help your application? 
The journey through application and assessment for admission into university can be a complex and timely process. Streamlining your application with the provision of verified documents through a trusted provider may help accelerate the process. Digitary VIA offers a range of benefits and can assist with the admissions assessment and evaluation process.

What are the benefits for Admissions?

  • Trusted and accepted means of verified academic records
  • A streamlined approach to enhance evaluation process
  • Digitally verified academic documents improves application assessment
  • Faster and more informed decision-making

Contact Us
If you have any questions or would like to talk to us about Digitary VIA you can contact us here.

Digitary and DreamApply partner to streamline international admissions

Digitary and DreamApply partner to streamline international admissions

By Simone Ravaioli, Director Strategic Partnerships.

Digitary, the leading online platform for certifying, sharing, and verifying academic credentials, and DreamApply, Europe’s leading student application management system, are joining forces to offer a more extensive solution for the admission process to Higher Education Institutes (HEI), worldwide.

By Simone Ravaioli, Director Strategic Partnerships.

Digitary, the leading online platform for certifying, sharing, and verifying academic credentials, and DreamApply, Europe’s leading student application management system, are joining forces to offer a more extensive solution for the admission process to Higher Education Institutes (HEI), worldwide.

In over 125 countries, some of the world’s most respected HEIs use Digitary to enable instant verification of records, eliminating manual verification. Digitary also empowers millions of learners, providing access to their validated achievements and credentials, 24/7, providing a conduit for secure, quick, and easy sharing.

DreamApply has been delivering specialized, SaaS solutions for HEIs for almost 10 years. Its success is attributable to a close cooperation with partner institutions in designing systems which boost efficiency in the admission process and increases application numbers. DreamApply is serving more than 250 education institutes in 25 countries, worldwide.

“The main goal of our cooperation with Digitary is to create a more integrated application environment for a more flawless process which makes universities staff and students’ lives easier. Thanks to the integration with Digitary, our clients do not have to wait months, weeks, or even days for verification of application documents” says Sten Rinne, DreamApply CEO.

“The collaboration with DreamApply provides an opportunity for Digitary to better serve applicants by allowing them to effectively utilize their digital credentials, while improving trust and security in the complex task of verifying applications for an international admission officer. DreamApply joins Digitary’s global network of trusted partners through which certification and evaluation of credentials can be streamlined and become a painless step in the whole application experience. We see a great fit with DreamApply’s solution to turn a current challenge into a future opportunity – both for students and universities.” says Andy Dowling, Digitary CEO.

Applicants will be able to send HEIs their verified documents online instantly through the integration between Digitary and DreamApply. The immediacy of the process will boost the institution’s efficiency with the overall application process (and document compliance) as well as offering applicants a more accommodating admissions experience.

Both Digitary and DreamApply representatives will be attending EAIE 2019 (24-27 September 2019) in Helsinki to present this project along with offering interested universities an opportunity to join the first-year pilot. Digitary – Stand D16, DreamApply – Stand K15

Digitary and DreamApply are ready to offer their services to all educational institutes from all around the world to make education more accessible, fair and equal.

 

For more information, please contact:

Simone Ravaioli
Director Strategic Partnerships
simone.ravaioli@digitary.net

Martina Di Pasquale
International Development Manager
martina.dipasquale@dreamapply.com

An Answer to University Document Fraud

An Answer to University Document Fraud

By Melissa Rizzi, Digitary Customer Support Manager.

When I first began my research for this article, I did an internet search and typed in, “How do you get a fake diploma?”, like many people would do.

FakeDiplomaNow.com was one of the first sites that popped out.

By Melissa Rizzi, Digitary Customer Support Manager.

When I first began my research for this article, I did an internet search and typed in, “How do you get a fake diploma?”, like many people would do.

FakeDiplomaNow.com was one of the first sites that popped out at me.

Well, it seems there’s no need to contact your dodgiest of acquaintances or to trawl through the deepest recesses of the internet to get help with a fake diploma.

No, the first page returned on my internet search promised me use of the same printing equipment ‘as used by all the major universities’, the same ’security’ paper, raised lettering and there were even some inviting fake embossed foil seals.

Of course, there was a big caveat saying not to use the diploma to get a job or for University entrance and that these documents were intended as novelty items or to present to parents, with a higher grade so as to avoid embarrassment. “Granny can hang it on her wall and proudly show her friends”. But at the same time, I was assured that these diplomas and transcripts had passed rigorous scrutiny from ‘experts in the field’ and won’t be exposed.

At the time of writing, I’m pleased to say the site is no longer there.

There’s a business in fake degrees but the law is catching up

Fake transcripts are big business. No wonder, there’s a lot at stake for University applicants today. A doctored transcript from a genuine University or a completely fabricated one from a bogus college can provide a person with opportunities for a better career, better paid employment and a better life.

Take the reported case of a man*, qualified as a barrister and working as a high-flying city lawyer in the UK, yet claiming Oxford and Harvard credentials that he had not achieved. Would he have got the job, the clients, without his prestigious background?  Brought to light in 2013, he gentleman was suspended from practice for three years.1

A woman*, also from the UK, was reported to have presented fake letters from The University of Greenwich and BPP Law School outlining her degree and law qualifications in order to gain well-paid employment in UK Council offices as a lawyer and Council Officer. In June 2015, the woman was handed a 14-month suspended prison sentence.2

More recently, there was the reported case of a 56-year-old woman*, who having dropped out of medical school in New Zealand, went on to register as a doctor with the UK’s General Medical Council (GMC) using forged credentials. She practiced for 22 years before her final piece of fakery led to a jail sentence of five years. She was convicted of falsifying an 87-year-old patient’s will as part of an attempt to inherit her £1.3m estate after they met at a dementia clinic. GMC rules that allowed her to register for a licence have since been strengthened and the records of up to 3,000 doctors who registered under those same rules came under review. 3

*Names withheld from this article

Far reaching consequences

Implications of trading on a fake degree are far reaching and can go much further than a slap on the wrist for the perpetrator.

In 2007, a man* was jailed in the UK for five years after it was reported that he passed himself off in front of Judges, Police, and lawyers as an expert forensic scientist and supplying testimony in court in up to 1,000 cases. All of which, now need to be re-assessed. How did he manage this? A couple of fake degrees: a BSc, a Masters, oh and a Doctorate, all in related fields, bought in the 1970s by post.4

But not everyone has a striking criminal career in mind when looking for help with University applications. When English is not the native language, the application process can seem quite overwhelming. A lot is at stake. In China, for example, learners and their fee-paying parents will turn to an agent for help with the process which requires any of a number of additional supporting documents; an essay, proof of spoken and written English, letter of recommendation, a prior degree certificate.

Depending on the agent, that help can be a little too helpful, unsolicited and sometimes not fully disclosed to the applicants.  The learner can be the victim of a bogus agent as much as the university, leaving some vulnerable and unsuspecting students submitting forged documents in support of admissions applications.11

Digitary partners with the China Higher Education Student Information and Career Centre (CHESICC), an agency of the Chinese Ministry of Education, which enables third parties to verify that Chinese learners applying for courses through its platform are legitimate and have verified academic credentials.

Additionally, for unsuspecting (or unfortunately sometimes fully aware) learners, there are the diploma mills – institutes of higher education, awarding certificates for a fee without any accreditation to do so. Sometimes these fictitious institutes will have similar names to genuine ones.

In May, 2015 the New York Times exposed a software firm operating out of Karachi, Pakistan that ran a global network of fake online universities selling sham diplomas. The company had over 2,000 employees according to the report, which included telephone sales agents working in shifts around the clock; it defrauded customers out of $140 million in worldwide online sales of false diplomas. In July 2018, the CEO was sentenced to 20 years in prison by an Islamabad court.6

According to Study International, a site that provides free help and advice to students wishing to study abroad, in their January 2019 article: How to spot a diploma mill, the problem is still rampant.7

It’s hard to put a number on the problem, but we can be fairly sure that there are students now going through the education system having used fake credentials to gain admission that remain undetected.

*Names withheld from this article

Two categories of fake degrees

There are two categories of fakery:

  1. the diploma mill, issuing diplomas from bogus online universities, and
  2. the genuine university transcripts that have been ‘doctored’ to provide a better grade or reflection of a student’s performance.

UK’s official Higher Education candidate verification service, HEDD says that many forgeries are ‘excellent’ in both their quality and attention to detail. Forget simple errors like spelling mistakes – although this in itself can be quite a common give-away.

University admissions staff, though, have long been wise to prospective students seeking to gain entrance under false premise. Some have their own specially-trained staff to spot fake documents, some will prefer to outsource their document check.

How to detect a fake qualification

The signs to look out for are:

  • Is the printing mis-aligned, font styles correct (US Universities tend to use only one of about four fonts), pixelated signatures?
  • Use of inappropriate language – American terms for UK University certificates
  • Is the registrar name on the document actually the registrar at the time of issue?
  • Is the University name outdated for the year of issue, written as say, National University of Ireland Maynooth, rather than the current; Maynooth University
  • Is the awarding body legitimate? In the UK, for instance, only degrees issued for Institutes listed in the Official Government list are valid UK degrees.
  • Request a transcript along with a degree qualification and determine: do the module grades match the final grade on the degree? 8

Sounds like a lot of work and some specialist detection skills are definitely needed here. Indeed, our internet and technology age has meant that forgeries are more sophisticated, can be turned over faster, and are more accessible to an applicant. It’s allowed a far higher standard of deception to come forward.

That’s why Digitary’s platform is a critical component that enables legitimate education providers another weapon in their brand protection arsenal. Digitary enables them to issue, certify and verify academic credentials easily in a secure online environment that has been trusted for almost fifteen years. Learners can use Digitary to share their certified and verified degrees, and other academic documents, in a 100% self-service environment, quickly and easily 24/7.

Overcoming credential fraud with legislation around the world

Many believe that legislation is a strong deterrent to document fraud; Yves Beaudin, Education Consultant and former National Coordinator of the Canadian Information Centre for International Credentials (CICIC) says:

“We have a good system where legislation in each province protects the words ‘university,’ ‘Bachelor’s,’ ‘Master’s’ and ‘PhD’ degrees. As soon as an institution uses such terms inappropriately, the province closes it down. We have very few diploma mills operating within Canada, compared to other countries, especially the United States.”5

Similar laws apply in Norway, where again, fraudulent operators have not flourished.

Awareness can also play a key role in flushing out fraudulent institutions. Neighbouring Sweden has on its higher education website, studera.nu, a page aimed at students outlining how to spot diploma mills and warns that they ‘exist both in Sweden and abroad’.

In the UK, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills announced back in June 2015 that it has commissioned a new service to address issues concerning fake institutions, while also tackling the related area of degree fraud. The focus will be on raising awareness among students and educators alike.9

Countries India and China have already taken steps to provide a registry of accredited institutions. China Higher Education Student Information and Career Center (CHESICC) in particular has teamed up with Digitary to offer a service that digitally signs and authenticates valid student credentials for all its students.

Important news for the US as Chinese nationals make up the largest group of international students in the US. They account for roughly 30% of all foreign students; about 340,000 in July 2018.10  Additionally, International students contribute to the US economy, bringing in both tuition and creating jobs.

Indeed, with figures for international students in the US topping 1 million in 201810, Universities there are coming under renewed pressure when processing applications and this trend is reflected in other countries. Universities have a need for full fee-paying foreign students and a requirement for speed when sifting through the submissions. Add to this mix the involved and often costly process of verifying a document and there exists a quandary, and a fine balance.

Credential fraud is being tackled in many ways

There are many ways in which credential fraud is being tacked, including: online verification services, PDF digital signatures, secure exchange networks, and blockchain to name but a few.

Governments are beginning to establish repositories for people to check the validity of people’s academic claims, such as online verification services like Higher Education Degree Datacheck.  HEDD is UK Higher Education’s official service for candidate verification and university authentication (https://hedd.ac.uk/).

“It provides enquirers with the ability to verify a candidate’s academic credentials or authenticate a university or college in the UK. The remit of the service is to protect UK universities, employers and graduates from degree fraud.”

One of the more accepted ways to certify and verify digital documents is through legally valid digital signatures (with Adobe PDF) – this technology is used by Digitary and has been used for many millions of verified academic records.

As far back as 2011, the then-Registrar at Stanford University, Thomas Black, has been a visionary in advocating the use of digitally-signed transcripts at Universities.

“What’s different with digitally signed records is that the authentication stays with the document wherever you are… What it means for me as a Registrar is that no one touches that record. All you need to process it is Adobe reader and access to the internet”5

Digitary’s tried and tested approach is based on years of research with the education sector and uses legally valid digital signatures, enables learner control, is very easy to use by all parties involved. Digitary has been used in production environments over the past 15 years across a wide spectrum of education providers.

Secure exchange networks in the US and Canada, such as EdExchange, enable US educational institutions to send and receive verified academic credentials, using standard protocols and data formats outlined by the Postsecondary Electronic Standards Council (PESC).

Also in the US and Canada, Digitary has partnered with powered with CollegeNET and Educational Perspectives nfp, to build and run the CertiFile® service. This enables top US schools, who use CollegeNET’s online ApplyWeb system for admissions, to receive verified records of applicants’ academic achievements, regardless of where in the world they have studied. Launched in 2018, following a successful pilot with Stanford University, over 20 US Universities are now using CertiFile® to receive verified documents from over 80 countries around the world. Verified records are pushed directly into the school’s systems from applicants’ Digitary wallets, streamlining the admissions process.

There is much hype around blockchain and what it can do for digital credentialling. This is giving rise to a substantial increase in the use of blockchain technology for certifying and verifying both academic and professional achievement.

While blockchain is indeed an exciting technology for cryptocurrency transactions, it is not a solution by itself and is only one piece of an overall credentialling platform.

Andy Dowling, CEO of Digitary says that “Blockchain is an exciting technology and is understandably generating a lot of interest lately. However, the application of any technology is just as important as the technology itself. Certifying academic records on a public blockchain is a light-touch solution to digital credential management that gets the blockchain and the learner to do the heavy lifting for the issuer.

However, this approach creates both new problems and further questions: what happens if learners lose their keys or records? How are blockchain issuers identified? What data goes “on-chain” and what goes “off-chain”? How is revocation handled? How do we standardise our approach to blockchain so that we don’t end up implementing a plethora of blockchain -based credentialing solutions that don’t easily integrate with each other?”

At the end of the day, all of these technical approaches have their pros and cons. Digitary, for its part, has been researching and developing a variety of digital credentialing approaches since the early 2000’s, and we have distilled the best and simplest approaches into our Digitary platform.

Today, Digitary is a proven platform that is supported by an ecosystem of networks in Australia, Canada, China, Ireland, India, New Zealand, the UK and the USA. Our platform enables millions of learners to share their verified credentials with third parties in simple and secure digital format, and also enables employers, admissions offices, and government agencies worldwide to trust records they receive from learners. The proof is in the numbers – over 1.5 million learners have shared their academic documents with employers, schools, and government offices in over 125 countries around the world.

It would seem that technological advances that have helped the forgers so well is also here to quash them.

Time to make sure that the fake diplomas stay on Granny’s wall.

 
Melissa Rizzi is the Customer Support Manager at Digitary

References

  1. Daily Telegraph, UK 9th Oct 2013
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/law-and-order/10366085/Walter-Mitty-lawyer-who-faked-qualifications-forced-to-quit.html
  2. BBC News 11th May 2015
    http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-surrey-32693850
  3. The Guardian, UK  18th Nov 2018
    https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/nov/19/thousands-of-doctors-under-scrutiny-after-fake-qualifications-case
  4. BBC News, 18th Nov 2018
    https://www.bbc.com/news/health-46258687
  5. BBC News 21st Feb 2007
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/manchester/6383307.stm
  6. NAFSA: Association of International Educators, Jan-Feb 2011
    https://www.nafsa.org/_/File/_/ie_janfeb11_fraud.pdf
  7. Reuters Sept 26th 2018
    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-pakistan-arrest/pakistan-jails-software-firm-chief-in-140-million-diploma-scam-idUSKCN1M61D9
    NY Times 17th May 2018
    https://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/18/world/asia/fake-diplomas-real-cash-pakistani-company-axact-reaps-millions-columbiana-barkley.html
  8. Study International 9th January 2019
    https://www.studyinternational.com/news/how-to-spot-an-online-diploma-mill/
  9. HEDD: the UK’s official service for verifying academic degrees and authenticating universities
    https://luminate.prospects.ac.uk/7-ways-to-spot-a-fake-degree-certificate
  10. ICEF monitor
    http://monitor.icef.com/2015/06/uk-rolls-out-new-service-to-help-fight-diploma-mills-and-degree-fraud/
  11. Qz.com 2nd Oct 2018
    https://qz.com/1410768/the-number-of-chinese-students-in-the-us-charted-and-mapped/

    https://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/sevis-by-the-numbers/july-2018
  12. Time Magazine, 26th July 2012
    http://world.time.com/2012/07/26/forged-transcripts-and-fake-essays-how-unscrupulous-agents-get-chinese-students-into-u-s-schools/

A Pilot’s Journey

A Pilot’s Journey

By Takis Diakoumis, Digitary Chief Technology Officer.

Mobility for growth

Access to opportunity has always been linked to people’s capacity to be mobile. Human evolution has depended on learning and mobility. Mobility and freedom go hand in hand, unfettered by boundaries, constraints and limitations – physical or mental.

By Takis Diakoumis, Digitary Chief Technology Officer.

Mobility for growth

Access to opportunity has always been linked to people’s capacity to be mobile. Human evolution has depended on learning and mobility. Mobility and freedom go hand in hand, unfettered by boundaries, constraints and limitations – physical or mental.

For us to continue our own personal evolution through movement across geographic borders or even industry sectors, we continue to seek further education and higher learning.

In doing so, we acknowledge that we may no longer have a single career in our lifetime but many and that we value and pursue lifelong learning as much to fulfil that reality as to reach our full self.

A global exchange

To support this mass people movement across national and international boundaries, institutions have typically entered into contracts with each other or through compatible vendor tools and services.

The result has been good commonality of data and interoperability between grouped or paired institutions, but still a great divide across local sectors and certainly more so globally.

The Post Electronic Standards Council (PESC ) standards and their associated initiatives remain central to solving the right problem here and help focus our efforts back on the learners we support. EdExchange as the vehicle, provides a reliable and consistent approach, where partners seek each other out and then trade information as a part of a standardised and consistent exchange.

The global potential for easily sharing information across the EdExchange network should not only simplify and accelerate the path for learners but also for institutions and service providers alike.

Standards and protocols

Standards like PESC help us manage risk in complex and sometimes chaotic environments. They facilitate a shared understanding of a common problem and bring interested parties together to help and coordinate a solution.

Standards help us define consistent protocols that are easily understood and help others assimilate the same information quickly and easily.

While standards continue to offer the best chance at sharing information in an agreed language, they all too often fail.

The up-front cost can be high for those adopting, with a delayed return realised sometimes well into the future as partners slowly join the collective. Also, by their very nature, standards are political – we all have different views of our respective world and biases towards what we are more familiar with and especially what we have spent years investing in and building on our own.

What were our goals?

From the outset we intended to complete an end-to-end interaction that reached deeply into our respective systems, where learner information was securely kept and released in accordance with strict controls.

Defining clear goals forced us to re-evaluate our purpose and solidify the core use cases we aimed to support. Goals helped clarify the WHY to our more engineering and operational HOW and WHAT.

Through regular conversations between our pilot partner Educational Credential Evaluators (ECE) and ourselves as well as the other EdExchange group participants, we worked through problems together, considered each other’s specific needs and adapted to this shifting space to arrive at our simple and clear goals:

  1. Send a successful transcript request for a consenting learner whose credentials are held by the requestee.
  2. Send a suitable response back to the requestor where the learner does not exist within the requestee’s system.
  3. Send a suitable response back to the requestor where the learner does not provide consent for access to their credentials

As a learner…

To frame our conversation back to relevant use cases, we removed any specific technology or framework from the discussion and started with understanding the learner’s journey.

While we can relate more than a single journey to the problem, the case where a learner wishes to pursue further study was identified as a core or critical path.

This particular use case contains sufficient generalisation to allow easy application to other scenarios including evaluation and general sharing of credentials. While simple, it introduces a number of external interactions that usually begin and end well beyond the central exchange.

The interaction begins as the learner applies for entry to an institution. The application process requests that the learner provide relevant certified or certifiable information on their previous work – their transcripts and awards from other institutions.

The focus remains to help the learner complete their application with as little friction as possible.

The institution, either as a participant in EdExchange or through the use of a service provider, would use the information supplied by the learner about themselves to issue a request across the network. The network responds with the location of a suitable node to fulfil the request.

Learner Consent – unlocking the information

The right to privacy remains the guiding principle when accessing and conveying learner information to the requesting system.

As the data subject, the learner should remain in full control of the process – even though it is highly likely they initiated the conversation as described in our core use case earlier.

While EdExchange does not specifically cater for or enforce learner consent, work in this area necessitated a change to the specification to support it.

A specific enumerated return value now informs the requesting party that the learner has denied access to their documents and the conversation effectively ends there. Where the learner grants consent, the workflow continues normally.

The benefits to Digitary customers

EdExchange in North America adds yet another ecosystem to the Digitary network, supporting our customers in Ireland, UK, Australia and New Zealand. Digitary is committed to uniform data standards worldwide and aims to support the exchange of consenting information through its network of ecosystems.

This will enable education institutions and providers the ability to exchange consenting information quickly and easily in a secure trusted environment, unburdening Admissions Offices while supporting learner mobility and lifelong learning.

To infinity and beyond

So how do we measure success?

This was a great question that would often bubble up as we improved our understanding and evolved our solution. We want to bridge those discreet islands – the group or pair silos with agreed exchange contracts.

We want to achieve this through a standards process championed by PESC and its contributing members.

While it would have been easy for us with our pilot partner to agree to specific terms between us to address issues like privacy and consent, it was always considered more valuable to return to the group and propose a change.

The group would then engage and either support our request as presented or alert us to a different part of the existing standard that could perhaps be utilised. This helped reduce friction and only reinforced our collective understanding and shared vision.

The conversation continues with PESC and EdExchange as we support any organisation wishing to participate.

We encourage everyone to move beyond pilots towards production so that we can all realise that original vision of a networked information exchange where we can enable learners – our customers – to achieve their dreams and aspirations through free and easy movement and lifelong learning.

Takis Diakoumis is the Chief Technology Officer at Digitary

Download the full technical paper here.

 

 

 

Issue Degrees, Transcripts and more

Issue Degrees, Transcripts and more

Digitary helps legitimate education providers to give their students an unparalleled experience. We do this by allowing institutions to issue digitally certified degree certificates, transcripts and other sensitive documents online. Currently over 120 of the world’s top education providers use Digitary to issue documents, with thousands more who accept Digitary-issued credentials in their admissions processes.

Digitary helps legitimate education providers to give their students an unparalleled experience. We do this by allowing institutions to issue digitally certified degree certificates, transcripts and other sensitive documents online. Currently over 120 of the world’s top education providers use Digitary to issue documents, with thousands more who accept Digitary-issued credentials in their admissions processes.

If you are an accredited University, institution or issuing body, find out more about how we can save you up to 83% of your administration time.

Digitary helps legitimate education providers to give their students an unparalleled experience. We do this by allowing institutions to issue digitally certified degree certificates, transcripts and other sensitive documents online. Currently over 120 of the world’s top education providers use Digitary to issue documents, with thousands more who accept Digitary-issued credentials in their admissions processes. If you are an accredited University, institution or issuing body, find out more about how we can save you up to 83% of your administration time.