Soulbound NFTs as Verifiable Credentials for Education will revolutionize how we prove our knowledge and skills.
The current education system is fragmented and siloed, making it difficult for individuals to demonstrate their skills and knowledge to potential employers and organizations. This can lead to gaps in skills, equity, and mobility, as some individuals may not have access to the same opportunities or resources as others.
‘Soulbound’ Non Fungible Tokens (NFTs) as Verifiable Credentials (VCs), powered by web3 and blockchain technology are emerging as a solution to these issues, providing a more transparent and trustworthy way of certifying skills and knowledge.
Defining “Verifiable Credentials” (VCs)
W3C Verifiable Credentials is an open standard for creating and sharing decentralized micro-credentials. It is based on the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) standard for verifiable credentials, which allows for a common format for creating, storing and sharing verifiable information about a person, organization or thing in a digital form. This standard enables interoperability between different platforms and allows individuals to easily share their credentials with others.
In the context of education, W3C Verifiable Credentials can be used to create a more transparent and accessible system of micro-credentialing, where individuals can obtain, store and share verifiable information about their learning achievements and skills, giving them more control over their own learning and career development. It also allows employers and organizations to easily verify the authenticity of an individual’s credentials, leading to more effective recruitment and professional development.
Defining Web3 and “Soulbound NFTs” for Education
Web3, also known as Web 3.0, is the next evolution of the internet. It enables a decentralized and distributed network, where users can have more control over their own data and resources. Blockchain technology, the backbone of Web3, creates a tamper-proof and decentralized ledger that can be used to store and verify information. When it comes to education and skills, these technologies enable the creation of Verifiable Credentials as soulbound NFTs that can be shared and verified in a transparent and secure way.
So what are soulbound NFTs (SBTs)? These are non-fungible tokens that are tied to a specific individual, and they can be used to represent the ownership of a credential. This allows for a more secure and transparent way of verifying the authenticity of a credential.
Global Leaders in the Educational Credentialing Paradigm Shift
Globally, the structure of education and employment is often disjointed and disconnected, with a lack of cohesion between different credentials, educational institutions, scholarships, educational content, schools, educators, technology providers, evaluations, and employers. This fragmentation leads to a poor management of learner data, resulting in limited ownership and network effects.
As a result, global leaders in education have come up with solutions to utilize technology to solve these issue of fragmentation and over-centralization. The following trailblazing initiatives are notable:
The Internet of Education (IoE)
The Internet of Education (IoE) is a global movement founded on 10 guiding principles for a learner and employee centered future where every human has equitable access to quality education and jobs, using Web3 technologies. It focuses on the use of digital wallets that securely hold a person’s skills and learning records, allowing them to identify gaps and establish pathways to their desired goals. The IoE’s principles ensure that learners and employees will always own and control their own data, and be at the center of their own life’s journey, which could fundamentally change how we think about learning, educator development, and employer linkage.
The Open Badges Standard
Open Badges is an open standard for digital badges that is widely adopted in the field of education. A digital badge is a visual representation of a skill or achievement that can be earned and shared digitally. Open Badges allows organizations to create and issue badges for different skills and achievements, and it enables individuals to share their badges on social media and other platforms.
The Open Badges standard is built on the principles of interoperability, portability, and verifiability, which ensures that badges can be easily recognized and accepted by different organizations and platforms. The standard is based on the use of metadata, which is used to describe the badge, its criteria, and the evidence required to earn it. Open Badges is an open standard and is freely available for anyone to use, it is also an initiative of the Mozilla Foundation.
The Open Badges standard is not connected to blockchain itself, but these open standards have been adopted by the Learning Economy Foundation to create verifiable, tamper-proof, and self-sovereign digital badges that can be easily shared and recognized across different platforms and organizations.
The Learning Economy Foundation (LEF)
The Learning Economy Foundation (LEF) is a non-profit organization that is working to promote and develop the Learning Economy Protocol, a set of open-source protocols and standards that enable the creation and transfer of verifiable credentials. Their own open source LearnCard Wallet is a decentralized wallet that enables individuals to store, manage, and share their verifiable credentials. According to the LEF, it is “the Metamask for digital (education) credentials” It is built on top of the Learning Economy Protocol and is compatible with the W3C Verifiable Credentials standard.
The Learning Economy Protocol
The Learning Economy Protocol is a set of open-source protocols and standards that enable the creation and transfer of decentralized micro-credentials. The protocol is designed to create a more transparent, trustworthy, and accessible system of education and credentialing, by leveraging the power of blockchain technology. It allows individuals to certify their skills and knowledge in a decentralized way, rather than relying on centralized institutions like universities. It also allows for more flexibility in the learning process, as individuals can learn at their own pace and focus on the specific skills they need. This opens up new possibilities for education and credentialing, by democratizing the access to learning and providing a fair and transparent system of credentialing.
The Open Credential Network (OCN)
The Open Credential Network (OCN) is a global network of organizations and individuals that works to promote the use of decentralized microcredentials, by leveraging the power of blockchain technology and open standards to create a more transparent, trustworthy, and accessible system of education and credentialing.
The OCN aims to provide an equitable and accessible system of credentialing for all, regardless of their background and location, it also focuses on enabling the interoperability of different systems and platforms that issue and verify credentials, so that individuals can easily share and verify their credentials across different platforms and organizations, and provide resources and support for organizations and individuals to develop and implement their own credentialing systems.
It is part of the Internet of Education (IoE) initiative which is a global shared vision and movement for a learner and employee centered future where every human on earth has equitable access to quality education and jobs.
A future with Soulbound NFTs as Verifiable Credentials for Education
The current education system is facing many challenges, and one of the most significant is the lack of transparency and trust in the certification of skills and knowledge.
The emergence of Web3 and blockchain technology, as well as the use of ‘soulbound’ Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs), offers a solution to these problems by providing a more transparent and trustworthy way of certifying skills and knowledge.
The Internet of Education (IoE) and the Open Credential Network (OCN) are notable initiatives that are working to promote the use of these technologies to create a more equitable and accessible system of education and credentialing.
By leveraging the power of Web3 and blockchain technology, we can create a more transparent, trustworthy, and accessible system of education and credentialing that will help to close gaps in skills, equity, and mobility.
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