Sony just announced an educational infrastructure play using blockchain technology that could fuel the emergence of mobile learning records. They are not the first: Pearson, Parchment, Mozilla Foundation, Credly, and many others; both businesses and nonprofits have been advocating for some form of portable digital record to carry your validated learning as currency. In an interconnected world where physical and cyber security is becoming a non-negotiable priority, where companies and governments fight about consumer privacy rights, and governments struggle with flows of immigrants and refugees with or without proper documentation, the not-so-distant future will create opportunities to provide secure digital mobility documents to every person.
In education, in particular, open digital learning passports will be a reality soon. They will continue to pressure educational systems, institutions, and policymakers to securely release student records to become a valid form of mobility pass. About six years ago, I anticipated that people should be given a digital birth certificate, a travel passport, and a learning passport when they are born, granted by the country and state of birth and recognized internationally, as part of the mobility documents of any citizen. I even commissioned an exciting project with GOOD Corps about digital learning passports a few years back. Individuals should have options to choose any digital custodian they want for their digital records (including their servers and cloud-based custodian services). They should have the right to keep their records in their custody and the digital custodian of their choice. If schools and colleges want to stamp verified learning progress, they must do it on the learner’s passport. They could be permitted to keep a copy by the learner, but they should not own that record. The student should. These digital learning passports (and other mobility documents) will inherently (by design) be safe to travel digitally and be stamped after verification of ownership or accomplishment. I can imagine ultra-secure technologies being developed; personal digital records can allow me to bring verified proof of what I own, what I know and can do, etc. Whether it's voluntary or forced mobility, individuals will be able to "bring" (access) their mobility records. We don't need a single format; a global federated approach is perfectly OK. As someone that has lived and worked internationally, I would have enjoyed the benefits of mobility records in digital format every time I have moved from country to country, state to state, company to company...
Of course, in all cases, whether it's learning or other personal assets, the verification/validation process is critical. Educators are developing frameworks so verification of knowledge can occur across the board without creating education standards. Think about the seven notes in music. That's the framework. You tune your instrument and play any combination of letters you want. However, someone must validate that you know how to play and at what level and be authorized in the verification network to "stamp"/validate that you know and can do what you claim. The same could happen with other assets you may own. I can think in the future a group of occupations known as "digital notaries,” some official third-party validators, and "stampers" of digital verification in the different fields. Even when the devil is in the details and may still take a while, we should give individuals the right and duty to own and custody their digital records (learning, health, money, property..).
Our kids, or maybe our grandkids, will surely be part of a different digitally-enabled mobile society. And yet, no matter how far technology goes, whether it's implanted as a chip in your body and accessible anywhere through ultra-secure biometrics, individuals will still have to prove that they have learned and can actually play and even create beautiful music, for example.
Be ready for digitally-enabled mobility
Susana Duarte de Suarez