The Final Outputs of the My Skills Project – the White Paper and the Generic Model – have been completed and published on the project web site as downloadable PDFs – here’s the link. It’s been a lot of work and has led us into some wide-ranging discussions about the certification of vocational learning with and without blockchain. Our project partner APPII is hoping to initiate a trial with a UK awarding body this year – watch this space for further news!
This set of stills illustrates the manual integration of a blockchain based digital certification system into an awarding body’s business processes. There are a range of possible integrations available from manual, semi auto all the way to automatic issuing of digital certificates to learners in cohorts (that would be the desired goal). All this is underpinned by the biometric identification of the user – to see the full story please read our white paper at https://myskills.org.uk/my-skills-blockchain-white-paper/
This screen movie demonstrates the verification of an SQA qualification manually in the test environment of the APPII blockchain system. Behind the scenes it uses processes and information that are closely similar to the way existing requests for a replacement paper certificate are handled.
This represents the first stage of integration between APPII and awarding body qualification system – a manual operation. There are a range of levels of integration available from semi-automatic to fully automatic issuing of digital certificates to cohorts of students.
After quite a bit of work, the draft White Paper has been published. You can find it here. The next steps are to gather feedback and create a final version before creating the generic model for the adoption of digital certificates.
So far, the project has been fascinating to work on – turning up a lot of ‘unexpected outcomes’.
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.