- Blockchain technology — a means of providing independent verification between two parties — is being looked at by schools and registrar's offices as a way to provide student transcripts instantly and for free.
- MIT's Media Lab is already using the method to make some certificates available to alumni, and it has created an open standards toolkit to help others get started.
- The goal is to put students in control of their own records, allowing them greater say in when and how their records can be shared (publicly, with potential employers, etc). Proponents hope that more ed tech companies will build blockchain technology into their products in the near future.
While the technology is still being developed, it already raises grave concerns for the status quo: namely that free blockchain certificates will eliminate a source of income for schools, reducing staff and physical space needs for on-campus registrar's offices, much in the way mobile payment technologies threaten the physical bursar's office. Companies like Sony are already investigating how to apply blockchain technology to assessments, potentially making it easier for students to track, share and secure their testing results.
Supporters, however, point to added flexibility, added security, and convenience for students, which should outweigh such concerns. However, the complexity of the technology raises new questions on whether it represents a necessary evolution, or whether schools have the computational power and skill to pursue the endeavor and whether or not it would be worth it if they did.