In a highly volatile and rapidly changing world, digital credentials are a new and disruptive way of maintaining legitimacy and accountability
Hyperstack’s platform provides government and educational institutions, training programs, membership clubs, and communities the ability to transfer skills, qualifications, and abilities into a simple form factor that can be verified and traced back to. It provides fresh graduates and job hunters a seal of approval that they are who they say they are and can do what they say they can do.
But you might wonder, what are Digital Credentials? Why are they valuable? How do they work? Where are they stored? How are they verified? Whatever questions you might have, this article aims to answer all of them.
So what exactly are Digital Credentials?
Digital credentials are digital certificates and badges issued by organizations as proof of authenticity, achievements, and learning.
On the surface, they are no different from paper credentials – they provide proof to a piece of information that you might tell an organization or employer. But what makes them different, or should we say, better? In today’s world ruled by digital technologies, everyone expects you to be able to provide authentic proof instantly.
For example, instead of asking your academic institution for paper copies of academic credentials that you need to pay for, or PDF copies that are easily forged by other candidates, you can resort to digital technologies.
The most common examples include:
- College degree certificates issued by educational providers
- Acknowledgments for understanding a complex topic
- Academic credit for applicable work experience
- Awards for mastering a personal or professional skill
- Corporate Education
However, online credentials are also used for:
- Proof of membership
- Awards for achievement, behavior, and effort.
- Governmental Verifications – Birth Certificates, Proof of Residence
How Are Digital Credentials Classified?
Online credentials are often categorized into these three types: digital badges, micro-credentials, and digital certificates. All three of them revolve around the same concept that digital credentials provide a better link to opportunities than current paper transcripts.
Digital certificates are non-material, and unlike paper certificates, they are easy to share and hard to misplace. What is more, digital certificates have many benefits for training organizations, as they allow them to:
- Streamline administrative processes
- Store documents and related data
- Quickly access information at requests
- Showcase an institution’s innovative approach
- Build stronger bonds between alumni and the university
- Prevent diploma falsification and thus protect the organization’s reputation
Hyperstack allows organizations to create and store digital certificates on blockchain technologies to maintain security and adaptability, and provide ownership to the individual upon completion of a degree or a course.
Basing digital credential services on blockchain technologies comes with unique advantages.
Blockchain-certified academic credentials are 100% secure, tamper-proof, verifiable, and permanent. The public certificate blockchain is a decentralized database that is, by its nature, forgery-proof. Digital credentials and academic transcripts are stored securely because blockchain information is impossible to falsify.
Academic institutions like community colleges, online course providers, or organizers of events and conferences are the most common organizations that provide digital badges. Digital badges are typically used for credentials that take a short time to learn.
Digital badges are digital verifiable credentials that contain:
- The issuer identity
- The name of the recipient
- Award criteria
- Issue Date
- Evidence of learning
By accessing the information contained in the digital badge via a QR code or URL link, an interested party can verify and certify the acquired skills and identity of the holder.
They can use shapes, colors, and symbols to identify levels of achievement. These credentials are designed so they can be easily embedded across a variety of platforms. Learners can share their digital badges on social media, email signature, online portfolio, resume, etc. Companies can choose to use only digital badges, digital certificates, or both.
A digital badge can be awarded for:
- Participating in an event
- Completing a project
- Verifying specific commitments such as a blood drive, or a vaccination.
- Certifying the completion of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)
Micro-credentials are certifications that certify the outcomes of a short course or module, which is assessed in a transparent manner. They allow for flexible, modular learning and can be used throughout the learner’s professional career. Sometimes they take the form of badges as well and sometimes are mistaken for them too.
Training Programs can use micro-credentials to verify the knowledge and ability of an individual who has completed a particular course or attended a webinar and attests to their mastery of that particular
Micro-credentials allow learners to claim their professional skills throughout their careers. They can present micro-certification during job interviews or use them for professional development within the company. Micro-credentials are designed to promote mobility and flexibility in the authentication of learning.
Why should we change from the age-old conventional paper certificates to digital ones?
Digital Credentials might seem like a lot of work but ultimately, it comes down to the platform you build them on, and Hyperstack makes the entire process hassle-free, for a wide variety of benefits that make them ultimately better than paper credentials, in spite of many organizations not making the change just yet. We’ve highlighted several key benefits of digital credentials that might make you consider applying them to your organization.
Businesses and Organizations can save time and money as well as free up resources for other teams by shifting to digital credentials. Instantaneous and verifiable digital resources don’t require paper, ink, printers, or employees to spell check as everything is done within seconds on a digital credentialling platform such as Hyperstack.
Verifying qualifications is a process that takes a lot of time and effort, as paper certificates are easy to misplace or become damaged over time. Often, employers need to rely on the candidate to provide proof of their achievement. Digital certificates and badges simplify the process by:
- Offering one-click verification
- Saving time for Employers to verify
- Preventing Fraud by being near impossible to fake
Portable and Shareable
Students, Graduates, and Employees all work hard to earn their achievements and often want to be able to share such news with family, friends, and colleagues. Sometimes they might even want to be able to share it with interviewers or employers. Digital Credentials have the ability to be shared quickly and easily, without losing any sort of authenticity. Digital wallets have the ability to store all your credentials in a place that is easily accessible anytime, anywhere.
Imagine you’re attending an interview for a new job. The interviewer reviews your resume and asks for details about modules for a listed qualification. You refer to your digital wallet that holds your digital badge. You take advantage of this simple situation to:
- Provide proof of qualification
- Inform the interviewer about your knowledge
- Opened up a conversation topic about other digital badges you hold
Digital Credentials are slowly becoming the new standard, but still have a long way to go before fully becoming the norm.
One of the major challenges of the digital world is that digital formats are easy to copy. Another candidate can take a peek at your digital certificate online, take a screenshot, change the name in an editing tool, and present it in the job race just as you. That was the case with the old digital technology that relied on sharing image or document files in formats like JPG, DOC, or PDF.
These formats are not secure enough, and still sharing a visual image remains the fastest means of communication. So how can you share visual files without them being forged? By using the latest conception of the internet, called Web 3.
The first conception was Web 1.0, or read-only web. Web 2.0 was known as the interactive, collaborative, or sharing web. This is what most of us recognize today. Social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter are based on it. Now we are witnessing the emergence of Web 3.0 or the “semantic web” that brings together artificial intelligence chatbots and virtual assistants, the 3D digital iteration of the physical world known as metaverse, secure encryption of digital items, public key infrastructures, and data using blockchain technology.
This version of the web allows data to be not only accessed (Web 1.0) and shared (Web 2.0) but also verified by humans and machines. Now we can embed an image or badge of a college degree certificate on a website or a social media page and have instant means for external verification.
Summing It Up
Digital credentials bring consistency, data, and security to skill capture and presentation. Futhermore, they give learners the ability to manage their skill certificates and academic record in a portable and verified way.
On the other hand, employees who have access to digital credentials are well-positioned to make more efficient hiring practices. Finally, organizations that issue digital credentials for learning are in a position to not only expand their programs but also contribute to the future of business.