Digital Accreditations — We’re making the same mistakes… again.
In the early days of ed-tech, a lot of publishers thought that simply taking a textbook and supplying a .pdf version of it via a CD-ROM was “ed-tech”, and that was all they had to do to maintain their ludicrous pricing and market share. Unsurprisingly, some of them are still of that opinion. But when thinking about the trends in education technology, that’s often how the “print to digital” revolution worked. You simply take a static process or asset, and just do the exact same thing digitally with zero regard for how the medium impacts the content, or the flow. I fear that as we migrate to more digital ways of managing and thinking about accreditations, degrees and certifications, that we may fall into the same trap of a minor evolution than the required revolution.
In the same way technology evolves, so do our pedagogical practices, shifting and pivoting to provide the best learning environments, experiences and content. But the same goal persist:
understand and then demonstrate proficiency in the subject area, before obtaining a certificate to establish the fact.
If we follow the mistakes of those before us in an ill-fated ed-tech journey, the logical next step would be to force the paper versions of those accreditations into digital format… say, push the accreditation to the blockchain?
In what has become the next hyperventilation inducer in the ed-tech world, blockchain becomes another weapon for forcing more static processes and assets into a digital format, without evaluating what that truly means to the asset, and the objectives you’re trying to achieve by even making that digital transformation.
A cursory glance around the internet suggests many people are currently working on leveraging blockchain technology to improve the accreditation life-cycle. But ultimately, they have the same narrative as the textbook to .pdf journey some publishers are still on.
While we can skip off the path and deconstruct why forcing a full accreditation to the blockchain isn’t a great idea (that article is coming shortly!). The real damage being done by this approach is simply forcing yet another asset into another medium because we can. The real evolution to digital accreditations will come when the accreditation can be formed with the medium, rather than in-spite of it.
All that being said, blockchain can indeed be leveraged in meaningful way to grow and support the new age of digital credentials/ And you’re going to be some of the first to see it.