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What does rethinking credentialing mean?

Photo by Felicia Buitenwerf on Unsplash

The outcomes of Dhiway’s verifiable data exchange platform are a natural complement to the efficient, transparent and fair assessment framework designed by the National Testing Agency. By empowering the learner, the Dhiway system enables equity in approaches to skilling and career building.

Why now?

The 2018 Annual Report from the Ministry of Skills Development and Entrepreneurship states that “Multiplicity in assessment and certification systems that leads to inconsistent outcomes and causes confusion among employers.” As large structural changes are brought about in businesses the need to establish a common understanding and capability of learning is a critical need. The Report on the Committee for Rationalization & Optimization of the Functioning of the Sector Skill Councils makes a set of recommendations which lay the foundation of increasing the relevance of the training-certification model. A selection of the challenges identified by the committee include

  • Poor quality outcomes originating from absence of national standards and a national credible assessment and certification system.
  • Recognition of prior learning via informal apprenticeship and creating certification paths for the same

Business process flows are very familiar with the notion of seeking, reviewing and approving transcripts and certificates from candidates. However, this established workflow is prone to leakages and chances of forged or false documentation being provided to gain employment.

A robust credentialing system empowers learners to connect with the right set of employment opportunities. By reducing the time taken to map skills to opportunities it creates a strategic advantage for businesses who want to benefit from the demographic dividend.

What does transformation mean?

Dhiway has focused on creating a mobile-first verifiable data exchange platform which lends itself to the learning credentialing domain. In our design we focus on the holder — the learner. Built on the principles of Self-Sovereign Identity (SSI), the Dhiway platform is designed to focus on security, privacy, consent and verifiability. We see a future trend where learners would desire the advantages of owning their identity and credentials and having the ability to create a composite portfolio using a consent-based mechanism to share.

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) defines a “verifiable credential” as “a tamper-evident credential that has authorship that can be cryptographically verified.” Interactions around the verifiable credentials data model are intuitive and based on a “triangle of trust” created on the basis of cryptography. The holders present credentials from issuers and the verifiers seek ways to establish the authenticity by seeking proof. Since the verifiable credentials are derived from other credentials it is easier to validate that the credentials presented

  • Are issued to the person presenting them
  • Are valid credentials
  • Are secure and have not been tampered with

The system built on open standards also allows for recognition of prior learning to be included in the stackable set of credentials in the mobile wallet. Cryptographically secure verifiable credentials in which the holder has full ownership and control of the extent the data to share helps businesses save time and effort required to undertake the background checks. By focusing on the holder of the credentials the Dhiway platform reduces the development overhead to create points of integration for electronic data exchange between the group of issuers. In a simple example, a learning path could include a set of credentials and micro-credentials from a number of issuers; the learner can combine them in a meaningful way and share it with a prospective employer in order to meet the criteria of employment. The underlying habits in this is no different from what is accomplished with physical certificates. And yet, the cryptographically secure verifiable credentials make the creation of the packet of acclaims and verification easy, secure and seamless.

What’s next?

In the near future the delivery of education and acquiring of knowledge will not be limited to one institution or, a single stream of subject. We already see learners choosing to pursue various additional courses and streams of knowledge which align with their skills, interests and desires. The technology underpinning the handling of such acclaims needs to focus on the diverse and decentralized nature of acquiring expertise and showcasing them. The mobile wallet experience allows creation of distinct and unique identities as required and in each case be assured of security, verifiability and privacy.

Switching over to a Verifiable Credentials based system built around Self-Sovereign Identity (SSI) enables universities and colleges to be recognized as the trusted issuers of the credentials. Additionally, it bolsters the already familiar online and virtual learning methods (MOOCs) by providing the learners with tamper evident certificates of learning and skills.

Dhiway’s data exchange platform provides the technology which increases the visibility and value of credentials acquired through the vocational education system. Marketplaces which create networks of such service providers can now include verifiable credentials along with feedback and ranking systems which highlight the ability and competence of the skilled individuals. By enabling clear understanding of skills, the verifiable credentials based systems strengthen the trust between the participants in the many-sided market platforms which drive the growth in opportunities and increase in transaction volume.

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