The Disruptive Power of Digital Credentials

A new report looks at the long-term effects of digital badges.
The Disruptive Power of Digital Credentials

What’s the future for alternative digital credentials (ADCs)? A new report from the International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE) argues that ADCs will significantly change the relationship between students and schools—and, ultimately, between higher education and society.

The report predicts that, by providing a rich record of a student’s skills and competencies, ADCs will challenge the relevance of traditional university transcripts and create a “new and dynamic ecosystem for the evaluation of applied learning in the workplace.” By unbundling learning, verification, and documentation, ADCs will disrupt the traditional advantage of higher education and allow alternative providers to be active in the credentialing space. And because students, not institutions, will own their certifications, institutions will not be able to control how information about credentials is disseminated.

But the rise of ADCs could offer advantages to universities, too. “The adoption of an ADC system will allow universities to achieve greater alignment with the demands of both students and local economies, making universities more accountable for what they produce,” says Gary Matkin, the dean of continuing education and vice provost of career pathways at the University of California, Irvine. He led ICDE’s working group of global higher experts who produced the report. “Young adults are demanding shorter, relevant education that they can put to immediate use. Industry hiring practices will increasingly depend on digital searches for job candidates, and ADCs will make those competencies easier to discover.”

The report also provides guidance to schools about how they can establish their own alternative credentialing systems.

Read the “The Present and Future of Alternative Digital Credentials (ADCs).”