Learn how some educators are taking advantage of new technologies to provide faster student and employee verification and eliminate redundant paperwork and manual processes.

By Tim Spring

The Problem

In the US 17.3 million students were enrolled in college in 2022, and 17.16 million were enrolled in high school. Each student generates data — such as transcripts of courses taken and grades achieved — all of which will need to be shared and verified over the course of the school year and beyond.

With the growing interest in higher education, colleges in the US received roughly seven million applications in 2023, each of which requiring a short list of supporting documents.

Student athletes will need documents for sports they participated in, as well as medical paperwork, such as physicals or injury reports, to be on file.

The 50% of college students who live on campus need an identity and access management system to access dorms, dining halls, labs and libraries.

Each of the 4.16 million students who received some level of degree in 2021 will need to prove that achievement when they apply for a job and will need to keep supplying that data for many jobs to come.

Employers will want to verify that the degree is real, a manual process most often handled by the school records office. This process can take up to 72 hours unless subject to additional delays such as school holidays, resulting in a lot of work for the school.

Verifying these degrees is not just a “nice to have,” fraudulent degrees and transcripts are estimated to be a seven billion-dollar-a-year industry worldwide, with real impact. Thousands of nurses have recently been caught practicing using fake or purchased credentials.

What if there was a really simple way of managing all this, so that all this data was portable, held by the student, and instantly and reliably authenticatable?

How decentralized identity can help

Decentralized identity technology is a way to digitize data so that its original source can be cryptographically proven and any attempt to alter it will be caught. It is designed so that a person can hold their own data, locally, on their mobile devices in the form of a verifiable credential. This makes data easy to share directly with other parties, each of whom can verify the authenticity of the data with simple, mobile software. Critically, this system of holding one’s own data, sharing it directly, and verifying it easily means that direct integrations can be avoided (saving money) and third parties are no longer needed as data brokers (simplifying data privacy), — a revolution in data management.

To put this in perspective for an educational institution, paperwork such as grades, transcripts, and diplomas can now be issued to students directly with a verifiable credential. The student or graduate holds their records and shares them with whoever needs the information, such as when signing up for more classes or applying for college or a job.

Similarly, a student’s identity card can be issued as a verifiable credential, meaning educators have a way to verify a student’s identity for access to accounts, buildings, research collections, laboratories, and more. Verifiable credentials can easily be configured with rules to grant and revoke this access and expire upon graduation.

By issuing verifiable credentials for identity and data, an educational institution can remove the need for passwords, locks, key fobs, or access cards, manual checks in the records office, digging through servers, paper documents and more. By issuing degrees through a verifiable credential, any business with the proper verifier agent can immediately know that the information presented to them is trustworthy, removing the need to go back to the school at all.

How Open Badges fit in

Currently, if you want to verify a person’s transcript, diploma, or certificate, you will need to contact whomever issued the transcript or diploma or certificate. This often means contacting them directly.

But what if that issuing party no longer exists? Schools close, businesses go under or become absorbed. Even if the original data exists, it can be time-consuming to track it down.

This is where Open Badges 3.0 comes in. As a type of verifiable credential for storing data about academic achievements, or certifications, an Open Badge credential can be verified without having to directly check in with the institution that issued them, meaning it can essentially “live forever.”

In contrast to earlier versions of the Open Badges format, the badge can be held by its owner and shared directly. Previously, the badge was hosted by a website (with the risk that it, too, could go bust and disappear, taking the credential record with it).

Open badges 3.0 offer a new smart, decentralized way to store transcripts, grades, and diplomas. Even if a school closes, merges with another, or loses the records, the student has a record and can prove what they have accomplished.


To learn more about Open Badges and their use in education you can read our recent article on the subject, or learn how Indicio has recently partnered with the United School Administrators of Kansas to provide a more efficient and privacy-preserving approach for sharing transcripts.

For more information, questions about the technology, or how to get started you can contact the Indicio team or set up a time to speak with our sales team here.

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