Alternative Digital Credentials: An Imperative for Higher Education by Gary W. Matkin


Alternative Digital Credentials (ADCs) will significantly transform the relationship between higher education institutions and society. By providing fully digital, workplace-relevant, and information-rich records of an individual’s skills and competencies, ADCs will render traditional university transcripts increasingly irrelevant and obsolete. Universities and colleges that to not adopt in some measure the ADC movement will begin to experience a slow decline in market position and patron support. Current usage of ADCs is emerging rapidly in the marketplace and is supported by standard-setting efforts and grant funding. Usage is accelerating due to the inadequacy of the traditional transcription systems, accrediting agency requirements, demographic shifts in learning preferences, open education, and hiring practices, among others. Institutions seeking to enter the ADC movement face challenges including, 1) establishing criteria for the issuance of ADCs, 2) designing icons to represent their ADCs, 3) determining the content disclosed in the ADC, 4) selecting a method (vendor) for implementing ADCs, and 5) considering the pace of technology and the immediate future of the ADC movement, including the advent of blockchain technology. This paper provides a rationale and pathway for the institutional adoption of ADCs.

Gary W. Matkin
Publication date: 
February 8, 2018
Publication type: 
Research and Occasional Papers Series (ROPS)