Digital Education Action Plan - Action 3 Digitally-Signed Qualifications

Storing and sharing qualifications online

What

Digitally-signed qualifications are electronic documents issued by education and training institutions to confirm the awarding of a qualification to a person. This document can be trusted by employers, education providers or other third parties.

Under this action, a common technical approach for issuing digitally-signed qualifications will be developed to ensure that certificates from one Member State can be understood and correctly interpreted in any other.

The approach will be based on open standards and integrated into the new Europass platform, where digitally-signed qualifications can be stored and shared.

Why

The digitally-signed qualifications component of the new Europass platform will address a number of challenges faced by students, graduates, employers and educational institutions across Europe:

  • Learning processes are diverse and there are different ways of capturing these outcomes.
  • Employers, education providers and other bodies need to be able to check that certificates and other qualifications are valid and authentic.
  • Learners increasingly need to be able to provide their certificates in electronic format to employers or education providers.

Europass has been used over 180 million times since its launch in 2004 and can provide a shared solution to address these challenges.

How

Millions of people will be able to store and share their digitally-signed qualifications on the new Europass platform or on any other electronic site, making it easier for education providers and employers to access reliable and trustworthy information on qualifications.

  • The report Blockchain in Education (2017) explores the potential of using blockchain technology for digitally-certified qualifications.
  • The commission analysed existing solutions, use cases and recommendations for the implementation of digitally-certified qualifications in the preparatory work for the new Europass platform.
  • The Massachusetts institute of Technology (MiT) and learning Machine have developed the Blockcerts open standard for issuing and verifying digitally-signed qualifications on the blockchain.

When

  • May 2018: adoption of the new Europass Decision
  • Second half of 2018: analysis and development work
  • End of 2019: Launch of the digitally-signed qualifications component in Europass

How to get involved

Awarding bodies are invited to take part in a pilot project with the Commission to test the issuing of digitally-signed qualifications.

 

What is blockchain?

A blockchain is a distributed ledger that allows information to be recorded and shared by a community. In this community, each member maintains his or her own copy of the information and all members must validate any updates collectively. Entries are permanent, transparent, and searchable, which makes it possible for community members to view transaction histories in their entirety. Each update is a new “block” added to the end of a “chain.” A protocol manages how new edits or entries are initiated, validated, recorded, and distributed.