The American Council on Education, a membership organization focused on public policy and fostering good practice in higher education, released a report Thursday on an 18-month initiative to find new ways to help college students assert greater control over their digital identities, among other technology-related issues.
ACE’s Education Blockchain Initiative also examined how to broaden opportunities for employment and diversify modes for lifelong learning through distributed ledger technologies. Funding for the effort was provided by the U.S. Department of Education, which selected four projects that used blockchain technology to help students better control their educational records or nurture new ideas for more economic equity.
The ACE report argued that as colleges develop blockchain solutions, they “must prioritize using learning and employment records (LERs), verifiable credentials, and decentralized digital identities” and create designs that include interoperability.
Long-term success of blockchains will require interoperable infrastructure, self-sovereign identity and data alignment, the report said, and considering the needs of end users also will be vital.
“The solutions must be simple to use and intuitive or target users will not embrace them,” the report said. “While blockchains can drive economic mobility and social equity if access to them is not unilateral, the positive impact will not reach those most in need.”
The report said that policies must evolve to ensure underserved populations are allowed to participate and benefit from the “full potential of blockchains and LERs.”