Although the technology ‘trigger’ for moving to digital certificates is not very complex or advanced (with or without blockchain). The bigger issue is social acceptance, the hype and noise surrounding blockchain does not help either but the biggest obstacle is tradition – ‘the way things are done round here’. This is one of the reasons we are not proposing to replace paper certificates but instead complement them with digital versions. People actually like to have a physical token of their achievements from an official source. Even the providers of MOOCs recognise this and offer people who complete an online course a fancy paper certificate.
This is a classic example of culture change and needs to be handled carefully. We discuss these factors in the demonstrator. Although the UK is one of the the most intensely digital economies in the word there are areas of life that are resistant to digital solutions due to their complexity – educational and health are two examples. When proposing digital certificates it makes sense to stress their benefits (speeding up job applications, on-boarding and generating digital CVs with certificates that have the same trust as paper qualifications). But we also need to be aware of the sensitivities around such a change and the potential for confusion from prospective users and misinformation from media and political commentators. The current education and qualification system does enjoy a large degree of trust from the public and that is symbolised in the paper certificates (a bit like paper money). Trust is a delicate commodity and once lost can be hard to regain. Another challenge in implementing digital certificates is the long term nature of the task – they have to last and be available for several decades to be useful.
The project team gathered at the SQA headquarters in Dalkeith outside Edinburgh just before Christmas. All the project partners were present plus SQA staff. A lot of the discussions from this workshop have found their way into the Demonstrator. You can find more about the workshop in the Meetings Log
What we were discussing in the project is pretty simple and basic – a secure place to store data between 2 organisations (SQA / APPII) and allow users to access their own data. But this is also complex…
Key system components : SQA <-> APPII <-> User (Learner)
Key elements of the system assessment certification and authentication
Tasks roughly for today – Identify process to make the vision work and begin to create the basis for Demonstrator, Model, Scenarios, Use cases, Personas and User Journeys / Stories etc. View the task as developing an overall generic mode for adoption of digital certificate.
My SQA as the basis of the data. The SCN as the unique identifier in the system – but the APPII system has to somehow resolve to that….? This would be the same for different awarding bodies.
Work Begins on the white paper at a workshop 15-11-18 at City of Glasgow College. We took the advantage of Gary from APPII being in Scotland more frequently to begin more regular meetings. Here we have some images of the workshop where we begun working through the practical issues of integrating SQA data into the APPII service.
John attended the Scottish meeting of the Blended Learning Consortium at Glasgow Clyde College to discus the work of the project. John described how it would benefit learners and employers and how the learner portfolio element of the project originated in Africa. We will be talking more about the ‘African Connection’ later.
John with the project web site at the BLC conference
An important part of the project is to create a ‘white paper’ to help stakeholders visualise what a working digital certification system would be like and what difference it might make to their working lives and to business processes.
Early ideas for the white paper are user stories, visuals and screen shots of working systems. The white paper is also going to discuss the issues and factors involved in developing a digital certificate system. It will probably become a long document as a PDF and a Google doc. We will need a short Executive Summary as well, as not everyone will want to plough through a long read – however good it might be.