“Can I Snapchat you a photo of my transcript?” — ✨Kailey✨

Admissions officers are beginning to see this question more frequently. It’s an honest expectation of how easy it should be to share certified documents. Soon, the answer will be “Yes.”

The first generation of students to grow up entirely during the internet age have begun applying for college. As they endure the obstacle course of admissions, they don’t quite understand the need for certified documents. Shining a light on this phenomenon is not meant to make fun of these students; quite the opposite. It highlights the way things should be. Students should be able to share their official academic records directly with others and have them trusted as authentic.

Until recently, we’ve lacked the technical infrastructure to make that possible. In addition, fear of fraudulent documents created a complex and slow ecosystem in which official documents must be requested and sent on each student’s behalf.

However, a new open-source technology is poised to change all of that. The MIT Media Lab and Learning Machine have been working on a collaborative project for issuing verifiable certificates on the global blockchain. Because those documents are cryptographically secured and tamper-proof, it means that students can hold and share their records directly with those who require official documents, like schools and employers.

The medium of exchange shouldn’t matter. Official documents should be shareable via online services like LinkedIn, text messages, or even printed on paper with a blockchain address. The recipient’s ability to verify the credential is the only thing that matters. Of course, digital versions provide a convenient button that performs a live lookup to confirm that the document is still valid. Schools, vendors, and other service providers are already adopting this technology to empower students to become their own record keepers. Prestigious high schools will likely maintain control over documents as a service to students, but that shouldn’t preclude those students from being able to use their official documents when and where they see fit.

This open-source technology is still in an early stage of development. The first version allows for the issuing things like a diploma, a micro-credential, a certificate of completion, or proof of employment. Subsequent releases later this year will add privacy considerations so that official documents like transcripts can be safely issued. At SlideRoom, we are committed to including blockchain badges, certificates, and credentials as a meaningful part of each student’s portfolio and larger identity.

Everything is about to change.