Tools of the Trade | July / August 2018

New credential platforms, more seamless LMS, centralized applications, and prevention of ‘contract cheating.’


The nonprofit Credential Engine will provide a new centralized data platform called the Credential Registry. Using an open-source code called Credential Transparency Description Language, the cloud-based application will act as a repository of information about the type and features of credentials available to students and job seekers, including degrees, certificates, badges, apprenticeships, licenses, and microcredentials.

The registry includes a tool that allows organizations to continuously upload updated information. Higher education institutions can use the registry to track credentialing trends, assess credit transfer issues, and better assist students in choosing which qualifications to pursue.

The purpose of the registry is to improve credential transparency and literacy in the market, says Jamie Merisotis, president and CEO of Lumina Foundation, an Indianapolis-based nonprofit that promotes accessible educational opportunities.

Credential Engine was formed in 2016 by the Lumina Foundation and Business Roundtable. It was the culmination of the Credential Transparency Initiative, launched in 2013 by George Washington University’s Institute of Public Policy; Workcred, an affiliate of the American National Standards Institute; and Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Center for Workforce Development. Visit


Blackboard Inc., which offers learning management systems, has teamed with VitalSource, a content provider, to give students seamless access to course materials within Blackboard’s Moodlerooms and Blackboard Learn systems. The “inclusive access” collaboration will allow students to access digital course materials at lower costs and ensure that all students have access to course content before the first day of class. Visit or


ConsenSys Academy, the education arm of global blockchain company ConsenSys, has launched Ethense, a platform to issue, share, and verify credentials. The system uses Ethereum blockchain and ConsenSys’ digital identity platform, uPort. Ethense is designed to help institutions manage the certification process, as well as give individuals control over their certifications. Visit


Liaison International, which provides management and enrollment solutions to institutions of higher education, has launched BusinessCAS, a centralized application service that allows students to apply to multiple participating programs with a single application. While students pay a processing fee, the service is available to schools at no cost.

Many schools that use a centralized web-based application service find that it allows them to connect with a generation of students already comfortable with social media and technology. “The service allows us to take a hands-off approach to processing applications, which frees us to focus on counseling, recruiting, and offering personalized service to our students,” says Loubna Bouamane, director of graduate business school admissions for University of Miami Business School in Florida. Visit


Turnitin, a company that provides tools to prevent student cheating, is working on a resource to allow professors to stop “contract cheating,” in which students hire third parties to write their papers. To catch students who engage “writers for hire,” Turnitin’s Authorship Investigation will use a combination of machine learning algorithms and forensic linguistic methods to detect when a student’s writing style substantially differs between writing assignments. The company plans to release the tool later this year.

Seven universities have advised Turnitin in the development of the new tool. They include Deakin University, Griffith University, University of California San Diego, University of New South Wales, University of Northampton, University of Queensland, and University of Wollongong. Visit