Union Public Schools is the first district in the U.S. to issue digital diplomas and transcripts using blockchain technology.
Beginning May 2019, graduating seniors will be digital owners of their diplomas, enabling them to share official high school transcripts instantaneously via a desktop application or mobile app. Prospective colleges, universities, or employers can immediately verify the authenticity of the blockchain diploma by receiving it via text message or email from the student.
“Requesting an official transcript has never been the friendliest process regardless of the institution,” said Todd Borland, Executive Director of Technology at Union Public Schools. “Blockchain technology is going to empower our students to easily share an official transcript with requesting organizations, and there will be no question as to its authenticity. This is certainly one of the most compelling uses of blockchain that I have seen.”
Blockchain is a way of storing data in a distributed ledger that allows multiple stakeholders to confidently and securely share access to the same information. Each member of the network must have access privileges, and all validated transactions are permanently recorded. By design, a blockchain is resistant to modification of the data.
A partnership with 3Dream Studios of Tulsa, using Learning Machine technologies helped open the vault of digital diplomas for Union Public Schools.
“I’m excited to see Union Public Schools embracing this proven technology for its students, faculty and staff. This move, already being utilized by Higher Ed institutions such as MIT, will put Union at the forefront of this credentialing technology. They will be considered leaders nationally,” said David Keesee, 3Dream Studios President.
In addition to providing this year’s graduating seniors (Class of 2019) with access to digital diplomas and transcripts, Union will also make digital transcripts available beginning with 9th grade students and others going forward.
Union Public Schools is the 8th-largest district in Oklahoma with nearly 16,000 students in grades Pre-K through 12. The district’s 19 schools are located in southeast Tulsa and a portion of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, with the mission “To Graduate 100% of Our Students College and Career-Ready.”
Evolving technologies—and conversations—around student data
The idea that a school district can own a student’s data—from semester transcripts and grades to awards and recognitions, even diplomas—is one that’s garnered increased acceptance in recent years. But a school system is merely a steward of that information—students are the masters.
This is Todd Borland’s philosophy. As the executive director of technology for Oklahoma’s Union Public Schools, Borland is putting that theory into practice, leading a first-of-its kind blockchain technology initiative to put data back where it belongs: into the hands of students.
The Tulsa-based school district is leveraging the cutting-edge (and highly complex) technology to enable students to access and share their digital transcripts and diplomas at any time and with whomever they choose. This not only gives them full control, Borland notes, but provides peace of mind that their data is 100 percent accurate.
“Union is responsible for all of our students’ and employees’ data—but we don’t own any of that data,” says the 20-year veteran of the district. “It’s their data, they own it. We’re ensuring them that we’re being the best stewards of their data that we can be.” Contunue reading