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Digital Credentials in Higher Education: What Are They and How Can They Be Used?

Introducing digital credentials is one of the most significant technologies in education. Digital credentials have transformed certificate issuance for educational institutions and how students share their resumes. As technology advances, digital credentials will play a significant role in education, identity management, and the global workforce. 

According to recent research, the global workforce is geared towards employing skills-based graduates. Universities and colleges are gradually using digital credentials and badge platforms to expand their curriculum to equip students with employable skills. The Southern University of Hampshire is an institution where students can earn digital credentials.

As we move forward, we will discuss what digital credentials are, why universities are adopting digital credentials and the impact of digital credentials in higher education. Finally, we will highlight how Universities and Colleges can utilize different digital credentials.

digital credentials in higher education

What Are The Different Types Of Digital Credentials?

Digital credentials are electronic records encapsulating an individual’s qualifications, achievements, or affiliations. Essentially, digital credentials encompass the electronic manifestation of qualifications, achievements, or affiliations that serve the same function as traditional paper certificates. They are gradually supplanting paper certificates due to their enhanced Security in storage, ease of verification, and seamless sharing capabilities. As with their traditional counterparts, various digital credentials exist, each tailored for specific purposes. Here are the 4 distinct categories of digital credentials;

  • Digital Badges 
  • Digital Certificates
  • Micro-credentials 
  • Digital Diplomas 

Digital Badges

Digital badges are digital documents used to display achievements. Digital badges have different designs, shapes, or colors that reflect different levels of achievement. Organizations use digital badges to reward students and employers.

Digital Certificates

Digital certificates are simply the digital equivalent of paper certificates. Educational institutions use them to reward students for completing an academic course. Furthermore, digital certificates are used across different organizations, including recognition for joining a professional body, completing training, volunteering, etc.

Digital certificates offer more than paper certificates regarding safety, portability, and authenticity. Digital documents are more accessible to store, share, and verify. Digital certificates eliminate the need for paper documents, which can also be printed into physical copies at will. 

Micro-credentials 

Micro-credentials are a digital representation of a diploma or a certificate. They are used in rewarding small units in a course. In essence, micro-credentials can be used to reward students for completing different modules in a course. Other applications of micro-credential include skills or competence certificates, nano-degrees, micro-masters, badges, and membership. 

Digital Diplomas 

Digital diplomas are also known as e-diplomas. They are digitally-created diplomas that serve the same function as paper diplomas. Digital diplomas are easily verified online, making them convenient for colleges, students, and employers.

Why Are Universities And Colleges Adopting Digital Credentials?

Universities and colleges experience several setbacks with paper certification. These setbacks include certificate fraud, identity theft, and tedious verification processes. These setbacks are a significant reason for the increasing adoption of digital credentials in educational institutions. Thus, the education sector benefits immensely from the use of digital credentials. 

Here are 5 reasons why universities and colleges are adopting digital credentials;

  1. Enhanced Security and elimination of Certificate Frauds.
  2. Increase Motivation and Support For Students.
  3. Streamline Enrollment Process.
  4. Seamless Verification.
  5. Cost-effective.
why are universities and colleges adopting digital credentials

Enhanced Security & Elimination of Certificate Frauds

Digital credentials are secured using techniques like encryption and blockchain technology. Digital credentials are stored on blockchains to make them tamper-proof and immutable. This helps to reduce certificate forgery and maintain the credibility of credentials.

Source of Motivation and Support For Students 

A digital credential serves as a source of motivation for students to complete their studies. As students achieve milestones or small units of their course, they receive micro-credentials. In addition, students are also motivated by the opportunity to share their digital credentials on social media.

Streamline Student Enrollment Process

Digital credentials offer much more than paper certification. According to Coursera’s Global Research, 76% of students are likely to enroll in professional courses that offer micro-credentials. In addition, educational institutions use digital credentials as marketing tools to promote their courses.  

Seamless Verification

Credential verification is easier and more efficient, reducing the risk of identity theft and credential fraud. Adequate verification helps recruiters and organizations verify qualifications quickly.  

Cost-effective

Digital credentials save costs by eliminating the use of paper documents. They also save costs for educational institutions by automating the distribution and verification of credentials, eliminating the need for manual labor. 

What Impact Do Digital Credentials Have on Student Motivation and Engagement?

Education in the 21st century has suffered a decline in student engagement and participation. One of the many reasons is that conventional classroom learning is no longer the ideal method for imparting knowledge and developing employability skills in students. 

Colleges and universities aim to provide students with the knowledge and soft skills they need to be successful in their careers. Educational institutions are looking beyond traditional methods for rewarding students and imparting knowledge.  

Digital credentials provide an avenue for recording, displaying, and safeguarding educational achievements. Today’s job market emphasizes the need for graduates to be lifelong learners and gain employable skills. Upon graduation, graduates need to become up-to-date on current trends in their professions and get standard certifications as proof of their knowledge. 

Digital credentials are described as an essential tool to increase student motivation and engagement, according to the study “The potential of digital credentials to engage students with capabilities of importance to scholars and citizens.” Analysis reveals that graduates are concerned about the evidence of their employability and qualifications. This means curating and presenting their qualifications with digital credentials makes students stand out. Students are typically motivated by the opportunity to gain recognition in a way that best reflects their efforts.

How Do Digital Credentials Enhance Student Employability and Career Development?

Employability refers to the ability of an individual to use their skills and qualifications to gain employment. Employers are interested in candidates with verifiable skills and qualifications. In a competitive job market, here are 3 ways digital credentials enhance the employability and career development of students; 

  1. Showcase Specializations
  2. Effective Verification
  3. Accessibility

Showcase Specializations

Using digital credentials, students can display their academic qualifications, skills, and personal development. Students can display their specializations by presenting digital credentials to employers and recruiters.

Effective Verification

Credential verification enhances student employability. Blockchain-based digital credentials are secure and can be verified by employers easily. This helps to streamline the recruitment process and improve the student’s employability.   

Accessibility

Digital credentials are easily accessible, unlike traditional paper certifications. Students can store them on their mobile devices, emails, and the cloud. Students can present their credentials to employers on the go. In addition, the ability to share digital credentials across social media pages increases a student’s chances of employment. It promotes networking with other professionals in the sector.

Can Digital Credentials Bridge the Gap Between Academia and Industry?

Employment in every industry is seamless when skills and qualifications are easily verified. Digital credentials offer an effective method for academia to detail students’ academic achievements, skills, and portfolios. Here are 3 ways digital credentials bridge the gap between academia and industry;

Digital Credentials Provide Extensive Details

According to research by the Association of American Colleges and Universities, 80% of employers found e-portfolios such as digital credentials more beneficial than traditional transcripts or certificates. On the other hand, only 45% find paper certifications helpful. Digital credentials tell the whole story about a particular certification. Digital credentials include the issuer (institution), requirements for earning the certificate, and other relevant data.

Instant Verification of Employee Skills 

Digital credentials facilitate effective validation of employers’ skills and qualifications. Employers can verify the authenticity of credentials in real time. This helps to facilitate the rapid onboarding of employers for short gigs and fast-paced industries.  

Improves Productivity of Workforce

Continuous learning improves the productivity of the workforce in every industry. Digital credentials are used to showcase new skills and qualifications acquired. In addition, the opportunity to share digital credentials across social media platforms is a source of encouragement for other workers in an organization.

How Do Employers Perceive Digital Credentials Compared to Traditional Degrees?

Digital credentials and traditional paper degrees share the same purpose of displaying skills and qualifications. However, both types of documents differ in terms of approach and recognition. Digital credentials are an evolution of traditional paper degrees. They provide a more flexible method of learning than traditional degrees.

The value of any certificate lies heavily in its authenticity and immutability. It is one essential criterion employers consider when hiring potential candidates. Verifiable digital credentials are more secure than traditional degrees. For instance, a certificate will lose its credibility if it is easily forged.

Employers are concerned about hiring candidates with proven skill sets. Digital credentials offer a competitive edge over traditional papers. They demonstrate the acquisition of skill or knowledge than traditional degrees. 

How Are Micro-credentials Utilized In Higher Education?

Micro-credentials are digital credentials used in rewarding small units of learning. They are used to reward students for completing different stages in an extensive coursework. Micro-credentials are utilized in higher education in several ways, and they include;

Continuous Learning 

Universities and colleges adopt micro-credentials to expand their curriculum for students. Several universities and colleges use micro-credentials to teach students new skills outside their curriculum. This results from students needing to get updated with evolving technology in their industry. 

Flexible Learning Path

Universities and colleges can create a flexible and modern learning path with micro-credentials. For instance, the University of Texas introduced a digital learning program that rewards students with micro-credentials. The course aims to equip students with extra skills to enhance their employability.

How Are Digital Badges Utilized In Higher Education?

Digital badges are digitally created medals of achievements conferred to students for completing a course. Digital badges represent an effective way to showcase students’ academic accomplishments. Higher education can benefit from the adoption of digital badge certification in the following ways;

Improve Skills and Qualification of Students

Universities and colleges use digital badges to eliminate students’ lack of soft skills. Also, it is possible to award students with digital badges for completing courses on communication, industry etiquette, teamwork, etc.

Improve Employability Skills Students 

Career development is an essential aspect of modern education. Universities and colleges can issue digital badges to visually represent a student’s employability skills. In addition, employers can verify a graduate’s competency by reviewing these badges.

How Are Digital Diplomas Utilized In Higher Education?

Digital diplomas serve the same purpose as traditional diplomas. They are credentials that prove that a student completed a course or program. Digital diplomas are utilized in higher education institutions in the following ways;

Secure and Fraud-proof

Digital diplomas are more secure and fraud-proof than traditional diplomas. The transition from traditional to digital diplomas will eliminate the risk of certificate fraud, a significant problem most institutions face. This helps to maintain the prestige and value of the institution’s certificate. 

Cost-Effective 

In a survey of 190 institutions conducted by University Professional and Continuing Education (UPCEA) and Pearson, one in five institutions offers digital credentials. This means more universities are joining the trend. Digital diplomas are gradually getting recognition as they replace traditional certificates, save costs, and reduce paper usage.

Conclusion

As the education sector continues to navigate this digital frontier, using various digital credentials emerges as a critical strategy in bridging the gap between academia and industry, enhancing student employability, and ushering in a new era of accessible, secure, and flexible learning pathways. The future of higher education is undoubtedly intertwined with the dynamic potential of digital credentials, promising a landscape where learning achievements seamlessly align with the demands of a rapidly evolving professional world.

In this era of rapidly evolving education landscapes, the importance of digital credentials cannot be overstated. As discussed in this insightful blog article on “Digital Credentials in Higher Education,” the transformative impact of digital badges, certificates, micro-credentials, and diplomas is evident in addressing the challenges universities and colleges face. These challenges, including certificate fraud, identity theft, and cumbersome verification processes, find innovative solutions through the services offered by Diplomade.com.

Diplomade, a leading platform specializing in digital credentials, stands at the forefront of this paradigm shift. By leveraging cutting-edge blockchain technology, Diplomade ensures digital credentials’ integrity, immutability, and Security, aligning seamlessly with the core issues discussed in this blog post. The platform caters to the evolving needs of educational institutions and contributes significantly to the global workforce’s skills-based demands.

With Diplomade, educational institutions can streamline enrollment processes, enhance Security, motivate students through digital credentials, and bridge the gap between academia and industry. The platform’s services provide a cost-effective, efficient, and secure alternative to traditional paper documents, aligning perfectly with the future-oriented vision outlined in this comprehensive exploration of digital credentials in higher education. As we navigate the digital frontier, Diplomade emerges as a critical player, empowering educational institutions and students alike to thrive in a rapidly evolving professional world.

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