Melbourne’s RMIT University has become the latest higher education institution to harness blockchain technology for its credentials, making it easier for students to share and verify their qualifications, skills and experiences.
RMIT said that it would begin issuing blockchain-enabled microcredentials late next month, under a partnership with digital credential provider Credly.
The technology will be applied to qualifications issued to graduates of RMIT’s “Developing blockchain strategy” unit – claimed as Australia’s first short course of its type, when it started in March – as well as students who use RMIT Creds, the university’s do-it-yourself programme for amassing industry-recognised skills and experiences.
“We’re exploring the latest application of this technology as part of our commitment to enhancing our students’ experience,” said RMIT deputy vice-chancellor Belinda Tynan.
Blockchain, the distributed ledger technology underpinning bitcoin, enables multiple versions of accounts to be stored on computers around the world – making it hard to hack currency exchanges, for example.
Advocates say that it has the potential to reduce or eliminate degree fraud by giving would-be employers a cheap and easy way of checking job applicants’ CVs. Massachusetts Institute of Technology and University College London are among the institutions that have investigated using blockchain for verifying their academic credentials.
Last October, the University of Melbourne claimed to have become the first Asia-Pacific institution to provide recipient-owned qualifications on the blockchain, when it issued teaching certificates underpinned by MIT’s blockchain platform. In December, the Sydney-based Universities Admissions Centre used blockchain technology to issue higher school credentials in an Australian – and possibly world – first.
In March, University of Oxford academics launched what was described as the world’s first “blockchain university” – an online venture that uses the technology to record academic achievement as well as regulate contracts and payments.
Advocates have also highlighted blockchain’s potential for stamping out research fraud. In March, a US team launched a platform for allowing every stage of the research process to be permanently documented.