For the years that you have sacrificed developing skills, going to school and building workforce experience, I ask who ultimately owns these achievements? Is it the schools that you paid to attend where you earned these credentials? Is it the employers to whom you gave your limited time and energy to help them grow and compete in their respective industries?
Simply, who owns your personalized data that represents everything you learned and earned? This data is now being classified in a digital age as your ‘digital credentials.’ I like to call it your currency for the future. And this expands the question to who ultimately owns you? Is it the credential brokers, governments, credit reporting agencies or the schools you attended?
With the insurgence of education attendance in the twentieth century, universities and colleges have been inundated with student record management. Countries like the United States have created data brokers, such as the National Student Clearinghouse, to help alleviate this burden and create a secondary authority to help manage and disseminate these credentials to you, the owner of these achievements. But this does not come without cost and privacy risks, which I will share more in future blogs.
The downside of this solution is that to access your records, you have to pay the interest on your educational and skill currency for all the middlemen involved. This is the very reason it takes days and often weeks to obtain the transcripts, diplomas and credentials you have earned when you want to further your education at another school, or to find gainful employment. If you are like the 75% of college graduates who have attended multiple post-secondary-schools, you must ante up the time and money every time you need to locate the multiple organizations that split up your personalized life story that you have learned and earned.
Even though we now live in a digital world, the process of obtaining evidence of what a person has learned and earned has not changed in the past 100 years. The one subtle change is that as more schools and organizations try to outsource this task to data brokers, the process becomes fraught with errors, additional expenses and complexities. Yes, this sounds extremely impersonal, because it is. Back to the original question, who ultimately owns your data?
When a student completes schooling at a university and takes what they have learned in their degree or certificate to find work, he or she is dependent on the institution or the broker of this information to provide the necessary documentation to verify their achievements. Acquiring these documents is at a cost and often time-consuming. Sometimes, when multiple schools are involved, there is a great deal of time involved to acquire and redistribute this information to potential employers or other higher learning institutions. Many institutions and credential brokers require months of waiting to provide these credentials that you have earned, and in the process, many people miss out on the job or education opportunity requiring the data.
After 100 years, there is finally a solution. You now can personally own the data that has been locked up and stored in a data warehouse. Universities can be released of the burden of continuing to perpetually serve as a central authority of verification or outsourcing this process to organizations like the National Student Clearinghouse, other data brokers or government agencies. The solution is called Blockchain. With Blockchain-based credentialing, you can now take ownership of your achievements and at the same time, ensure that the issuer of these achievements can be referenced to verify their authenticity. The recipients of these credentials can also rest assured that they are legitimate.
We have entered into a new era of personalized and secure data. New technological innovation with Blockchain provides a fresh process with attention to data privacy, accompanied by new laws and regulations. The new process puts ownership in the hands of the very person who learned and earned the badges, merit, transcripts, assessments and diplomas issued. With the data in the hands of the learner, they are liberated to have personal 24x7x365 access to their credentials and choose who can and should see them. This empowers the learner to share their value, investment and credentials, giving them the best chance for the job and educational opportunities they seek on time.
Many people are enticed into social networks that are free, feeling as though they are gaining value, when in reality, if the product is free, you most likely are the product. And if you are the product, you should have the right to share profit in the network that is selling you.
Unlike centralized systems (many of whom claim to be using Blockchain), truly decentralized networks provide fully transparent access to not only your data but the transactions around it. Decentralized systems ultimately give you more control and visibility into how your data is being used.
It’s time for every learner to personally own their data and the evidence of what that data means for employment and educational opportunities. In the past, diplomas and transcripts owned by others were the evidence. However, with Blockchain-powered credentials, the evidence expands to all things digital that have been earned, learned and worked for by you.