Here Comes The Sun – Final Transcript Season Webinar

It’s almost time for flip-flops and summer vacation. You’ve earned it! The last hurdle is getting all of those final transcripts processed. But this doesn’t have to be so daunting.

Whether you’re a school of 50 students or 5,000, we have a webinar planned to help you with all of the following end-of-year tasks:

  • Student Communication Best Practices
  • Showcasing the Parchment.com Student Ordering Experience
  • Uploading and Updating Final Transcripts
  • Matching and Processing Orders
  • Updating the Admins on Your Account
  • The Benefits of Your Custom OrderLink
  • And More!

So join us on Thursday, April 12th at 8:00 AM PST (that’s 9:00 AM MST, 10:00 AM CST and 11:00 AM EST). You bring the questions, we’ll provide the answers. We look forward to “seeing” you there!

Register Today

Parchment Connect National Pre-Conference FERPA Overview and Training Workshops

Parchment Connect National is the best way to meet with your peers from across the country to get inspired and up to speed on the latest trends in credential innovation. Before the new ideas get flowing, brush up on the basics during pre-conference sessions with a FERPA overview and an in-depth training workshop.

First, join AACRAO Senior Fellow LeRoy Rooker for an overview of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), the comprehensive federal law that provides privacy protections for student education records. LeRoy is the nation’s leading authority on FERPA. As the director of the Department of Education’s Family Policy Compliance Office (FPCO) for 21 years, he administered laws and policies designed to help protect the rights of America’s 58 million students.

Mr. Rooker is well known in the postsecondary world because of his extensive outreach to the higher education community while at the Department of Education.

Then, join Parchment’s Product Managers and trainers for one of three hands-on training workshops.  Admissions staff will benefit from learning how to receive and process incoming application materials using Parchment Receive. Higher Education Registrars will learn the basics of Parchment Send for Higher Education and get insight into how credentials are received once they’re sent. K-12 Registrars and Counselors will get step by step guidance on how to upload rosters, match credentials, and add additional record types with the customized Parchment Send training sessions.

These sessions will help you use Parchment better and make your day more efficient from beginning to end!

Pre-conference session are complimentary with your Parchment Connect National registration, but space is limited, so register today!

Pre-conference sessions are offered Saturday, March 24th from 9 AM – 12 PM.  See the conference schedule here.[callout-1 image=”/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Connect-Header-wDate-color.jpg” button-text=”Register Now” button-link=”https://www.parchment.com/parchment-connect/” secondary-text=”Read more about what Parchment Connect Offers You”]

Parchment Connect National
March 24-25, 2018
Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld
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Get Inspired at Parchment Connect National, Then Get to Work

With hundreds of Parchment members from across the country attending Parchment’s user conference, Parchment Connect National, there are many opportunities to get inspired and learn how to make your dreams a reality.

This isn’t just something we say. It is actually happening! As in the case of Loma Linda University.  Their VP for Enrollment Management and Student Services, Dr. Rick Williams attended the conference in 2014 in Denver. As part of the program, Dr. Rodney Parks from Elon University had just finished developed his first iteration of Elon’s Experiences Transcript.

Experiential-Example-1

Dr. Parks discussed how Elon went about creating their Experiences Transcript, including how the information is collected, verified, and stored within their SIS. He covered the factors that went into the design of the new transcript as well as their choices on how they would distribute it to their students.  All of these details got Dr. Williams thinking about how they could develop and an experiences, or co-curricular, transcript at Loma Linda.

He went back to campus and immediately started making the connections needed to create a distributed verification workflow across campus. They worked with a developer to create an easy to use interface to manage the process. Then designed their experiences transcript and started distributing to their students.  Within 18 months from hearing about the idea, Loma Linda had a brand new credential type that is helping their students represent a host of service, research, and leadership activities that were previously obscure.

LomaLinda-Transcript

In 2016, Dr. Williams and his team returned to present their work at the Parchment Connect National held in Washington, D.C.  

With so much activity and interest around the innovation of credentials, the opportunity to attend Parchment Connect National is a great way to connect with peers and innovators from across the country. Meet the people who are actually doing the projects that you are interested in. Talk to them about the challenges they’ve faced, and the rewards they’ve reaped.

If you have been doing a project – no matter what stage you are in – share your story! So many people are just getting started and need your insight and expertise as they decide how to improve their office and help their students. The insights you can impart cannot be overstated.

We hope to see you at Parchment Connect 2018! You never know what inspiration you will find.

Early Bird Registration: 50% Off Until 12/31/17. Register today!

 

Online Learning 20 Years Later: Five Observations

To mark the 20th anniversary of the Educom NLII Instructional Management Systems (IMS) retreat in March 1997 at Sonoma State University, and the founding of Blackboard LLC in June 1997, Blackboard co-founder and Parchment CEO Matthew Pittinsky shares five observations about the state of eLearning 20 years later.  In an earlier blog (Part 1), Matthew shared lessons learned founding and scaling a global education technology platform.

When most (normal) people think of Autumn, their minds turn to Halloween and Thanksgiving.  For those of us in higher education technology, however, Autumn means a third annual event is upon us … the annual higher education technology meeting of EDUCAUSE!  

This year’s meeting in Philadelphia is a special one, marking the 20th anniversary of one of the most impactful initiatives ever launched by a higher education association.  Originally dubbed the Instructional Management Systems (IMS) project, it was the brainchild of visionary leaders Carol Twigg, Bill Graves, and Carl Berger (to name a few) and led by Carol Twigg, Mark Resmer and Steve Griffin.

Their goal?  To ensure that a marketplace of learning technologies — learning management systems (LMSs) first and foremost — would emerge to support the delivery of high-quality learning in a networked age.  More precisely, a marketplace of standards-based learning technologies.  At a time when academic computing played second fiddle to administrative computing, and just three years after the launch of Netscape, the idea that higher education needed to proactively catalyze a learning technology market, while simultaneously ensuring openness and interoperability, was a big and prescient one.  

I’ll keep the history brief.  While IMS was organized under Educom’s National Learning Infrastructure Initiative a year earlier, it was March 1997 when the project fully kicked-off with a month-long convening.  Held on the campus of Sonoma State University, participants from UNC Chapel Hill, Michigan, Maricopa Community College, Penn State, Cal State, Buena Vista University and others, joined with representatives from Apple, IBM, Sun, Thomson Learning and KPMG Consulting (my employer and ticket into the room), to identify the key enabling standards required to support interoperability and reduce friction in the adoption of learning technologies by faculty and institutions. In short, our work was to begin the design of an open architecture for online learning; one that could transform the Internet into a more powerful environment for teaching and learning.

It’s now 20 years later and safe to say the marketplace imagined in 1997 has by and large developed, centered around the widespread adoption of the LMS.  IMS was critical to this development. I will leave it to others who work every day with tools and content to judge the degree to which the goal of openness and interoperability has been realized.  The IMS project of 1997 has evolved into the IMS Global Learning Consortium, home to such critical standards as LTI and Common Cartridge.

Anniversaries are an opportunity to reflect on time gone by and I’ve been thinking about the state of online learning 20 years later.  In various talks on the topic I’ve made five observations that have garnered particularly strong reactions – heated disagreement, as much as support.  Here they are:

  1. The LMS experience of 2017 is surprisingly similar to 1997.  I left Blackboard in 2007 to finish my doctoral studies and take a tenure-track position in the sociology program at Arizona State University.  I rejoined the edtech market with Parchment in 2011.  Perhaps four years falls short of “Rip Van Winkle” status, but I was surprised to walk the 2011 EDUCAUSE exhibit hall and see how much the major LMS systems looked like each other, and more importantly, looked like the WebCT, Blackboard CourseInfo and Web Course in a Box systems of old.  When you consider the major technology shifts that have occurred since 1997 – social, mobile, Big Data, SaaS, etc. – it’s remarkable that a course web site today is not so different as one of yesteryear.  Similarly, the continued bright line between “front office” and “back office” – between LMS and SIS – is as bright as ever; noteworthy and a barrier to innovation.
  1. We need to flip 80-20 to 20-80.  The key to a fundamentally different and more effective online learning environment lies in the degree to which platforms support pedagogical and discipline differentiation in those learning environments.  I always thought of Blackboard as an operating system for education.  Yes, that’s a presumptive and ambitious thought from a business perspective.  But for me, the point was that Blackboard’s value lay in the apps you ran on it, not the system itself.  

LMSs provide the 20% of tools that 80% of learning environments need: gradebook, discussion tools, content management, etc.  Impactful learning environments are about the 80% of tools that only 20% of learning environments may need because they are specific to that instructional approach and subject.  It’s no surprise that the platforms most different from 20 years ago – Minerva, MOOCs, 2U – have all developed in the context of a specific set of programs and with a specific pedagogy.  

  1. The learning technology marketplace remains a fresh palate.  Whenever I am pitched by an edtech entrepreneur or learn about a new company, I use a simple matrix to help classify their product.  The matrix is pretty high level, but I think it serves its purpose of illustrating how fresh the palate is for edtech innovation.  

The rows of the matrix are the four major challenges that characterize the historical development of education in the United States: access, quality, efficiency, equity.  As a country and industry, each of these challenges has risen and fallen in relative priority.  They are interrelated to be sure.  The columns of the matrix are the four major technologies that are being applied to those challenges: networks, interactive media, data, mobile.  Some definitions: By “interactive media” I mean the spectrum of learning resources from simulations to augmented reality.  We can teach American history by being at the Stonewall Inn in New York City during a seminal moment in the gay rights movement.  We can understand the electoral college by simulating marginal shifts in votes by states and see how they change who sits in the White House.  By “data” I mean Big Data, but more to the point, the application of Big Data through AI and algorithms, for example in the effort to personalize learning and identify retention risk.  When the four big challenges intersect with these four core technologies, the exponential nature of the opportunity space emerges.  This is especially true when you consider that the 16 cells of the matrix exist in multiple dimensions, taking on different qualities in the contexts of community college, liberal arts college, the big research university, the HBCU and so on.

Networks Interactive Media Data Mobile
Access
Quality
Effecienct
Equity

 

  1. The measuring stick of “as good” remains a tricky one.  I struggle with this topic; hence it is the longest.  Carol Twigg has long argued that to measure online learning against the yardstick of classroom-based instruction is, well, dumb (my word).  First, it reifies classroom-based instruction in a way that ignores the poor learning outcomes and the isolation that exist in too many lecture halls across America. Second, it constrains the imagination of online learning, which should be about increasing quality and lowering costs to achieve breakthrough outcomes.  As much as I admire Carol, I am not fully there.  

The original problem Blackboard set out to solve was to augment a traditional classroom-based course with an additional context for learning: the course web site.  Discussions and reflections, formative assessments, interactive learning resources, and yes, administrative activities, could all be integrated and enhanced through the LMS.  While  “hybrid” courses and “flipped” classrooms are a new norm, for many institutions fully online distance learning has overtaken augmentation as their primary strategic focus.  

In that context I think it makes sense to ask whether online learning is as good as traditional classroom-centered and campus-based learning.  Surveys of employers suggest they don’t believe so, perceiving online degrees lower in terms of quality. Of course it’s foolish to judge all subjects, degree programs, education providers and learners with a single pronouncement. It’s foolish to make the statement that online education is not as good when there are examples of programs or providers that no doubt are better.

That said, I think we are way too uncritical in our acceptance of online education as a delivery method.  We should ask the question, Are online learning environments as good as high impact brick-and-mortar environments?  For me the answer is usually no, with only a few exceptions. I say this for three interrelated reasons.  First, I believe that nearly all instruction delivered by a college or university should embed in its design the principles of a liberal arts education.  As Michael Roth, president of Wesleyan University and closing keynote at our latest Parchment Summit, argues, a liberal arts education is at its core about producing leaders and change agents with the capacity for innovation, judgement and productive risk taking. Second, I believe that education is fundamentally a social process rooted in experience:  instructor-to-student, student-to-student, in the context of instructor-led activities and outside of them.  Few online learning environments are social at their core, and the answer is not borrowing from the design principles of Facebook!  Third, I believe in the unofficial curriculum of a campus-based undergraduate education (and many graduate programs as well).  Learning is what happens in the quad, library, residence halls, student groups, lectures, faculty office hours, research projects … the list goes on.  Most online programs reflect a fraction of that richness.  Student life is higher education’s secret sauce.

Usually these observations generate three objections.  The first two are that there are institutions that prove me wrong, and there are instructional programs for which my objections are not as relevant.  Both are true.  The third objection is that I fail to acknowledge the barriers to access that are being broken down with online.  The typical learner is not 18-21 and living on campus. Students can earn degrees who might not otherwise.  And online can be delivered at a cost that can expand attainment.  

Here I stand my ground.  I believe that the goal of broad attainment of higher education is about more than just individual economic mobility.  I believe that the liberal arts principles and unofficial curriculum that characterize brick-and-mortar higher education (done well) are critical to both economic mobility and the broader purposes of a degree.  I also believe that historically our education system has proven to be remarkably good at sorting students by race and class in ways that perpetuate inequality.  We must be on guard and bring a critical eye.  There is a real risk that the sorting of who learns through online education and who learns on campus will become the 21st century postsecondary equivalent of the 20th century practice of tracking by secondary schools, which was not a happy story.

  1. Change happens incrementally. Most of us tend to speak of change happening in increments of five years and ten years.  Five years is something imminent, and ten years is something that will happen sooner rather than later.  My rule of thumb for change in the education is market is to take a forecast and triple it: near-term is 15 years, while sooner rather than later is more like 30. Take for example the “flipped classroom,” in which in-class time is repurposed for more instructor-student interaction, while lectures are presented online.  The idea of shifting from “sage on the stage” to “guide on the side” was coined in 1993, but it wasn’t until roughly 2007 when the practice gained broad attention. A second example is the MOOC. Seventeen years ago (2003), Arthur Levine, then president of Teachers College, Columbia University wrote in a book I edited, The Wired Tower, that faculty members will become free agents and go online to reach a large global audience.  What he described as a near-term trend took just nine years before Coursera was founded.

My point is that big change does happen in higher education. It just takes longer and it happens incrementally. That is, A leads to B, B to C and C to D. Rarely does A lead directly to D. This “radical incrementalist” model is the secret to technology-driven innovation in the academic world.

There you have it. Twenty years have gone by. We must be humble and recognize the true state of what online education can do pedagogically. There’s a temptation to believe the medium can do more than it can, especially with the siren song of disruption calling out to do more, faster.  We have experience now upon which to draw. Companies like Blackboard are reimagining the LMS with the benefit of rich data about how people teach and learn.

The vision of IMS was interoperable tools and content, accessible by faculty to support their instruction and student learning.  It is a vision as urgent and important today as in 1997.  See you at the Parchment booth at Educause!

Supporting Our Community In Times of Need

Today, more than ever, it’s important to come together as a community, especially during times of natural disaster. The hurricanes in Texas and Florida caused wide-spread devastation. Many individuals and organizations took action to help those affected. The Parchment community was no exception.

Our Parchment Wellness Committee, Kind.Heart.Ed, led the charge, creating a GoFundMe page with the proceeds going to All Hands Volunteers. While our goal was to raise $500 for hurricane victims (with Parchment matching contributions up to that amount), we should have known people would go above and beyond.

Thanks to our generous Parchment community, we raised an amazing $2,500 from 34 employees in less than 30 days, blowing our original goal out of the water! And we couldn’t be more pleased for recipient All Hands Volunteers, a volunteer-powered disaster relief organization dedicated to rebuilding hope for people impacted by natural disasters all over the world, addressing both the immediate and long-term needs of the affected communities.

To further the cause, we also reached out to Parchment members that were affected and extended extra support to them during this time. From hurricanes, fires, and other challenges large and small it’s important for all of us to reach out and give a helping hand where we can. That’s what community is all about!

What Impact Do 33 Million Electronic Documents Have On Our Environment? A Forest’s Worth

2016-2017 was a busy year for Parchment Members! Over the year they sent 33 million official records and documents electronically. These records helped students get into college. They landed the perfect job. And also saved a massive amount of our precious resources!

Good job, team!

We often talk about the man hours saved and the amazing convenience that ordering and sending our records electronically brings. But the impact to our environment, while we know it’s happening, doesn’t get center stage.

Time to put the benefits to Mother Earth front and center with the 2017 Sustainability Report. Using the calculator provided by Conservatree, we were able to determine the amazing impact that sending 33 million pieces of paper electronically had.

This infographic breaks down the results. Thank you, Parchment Members, for helping us all live a little greener!

Click to download the infographic as a PDF.

Not going green yet? Contact us and learn how you can contribute by sending and receiving all of your official records electronically!

Credentials Are Social … In More Ways Than You Think!

Posting a picture of a diploma or commencement ceremony on graduation day to social media is increasing in popularity. Graduates are excited to share their achievement with their friends and family. But those social posts are just the beginning of how social sharing of diplomas, certificates, transcripts and other credentials can make a big impact on a graduate’s future opportunities.

Survey Says!

Earlier this year, Parchment conducted a survey of more than 1000 participants to learn more about how students use their credentials right after graduation and throughout the course of their career. What we learned clearly shows that credentials need to become transferrable, more communicative, and ultimately enable students to turn credentials into opportunities.

Read the complete report for a more detailed analysis.

Why Share Socially?

Today students share everything online, so it’s not too surprising that they’re excited about sharing their academic achievements too. We wanted to dig a little deeper to find out what was motivating their sharing. We found that of the 58% of respondents who share, will do so on Facebook (94%) because they are proud of themselves (78%).

The Long Tail of Sharing Digital Credentials

After the excitement of commencement is over, it’s time to start putting those hard-earned credentials to work! Our survey found that over the course of their career, learners depend on sharing their credentials with employers, institutions, and even other students looking for guidance.

61% of graduates need to share their credentials with a potential employer as part of their job application. As the average number of jobs millennials will hold increases to more than 15 over the course of their lifetime – these credentials are going to get even more use.

Graduates Want Innovation

One of the most exciting findings from the survey is the desire that graduates have to innovate their academic credentials. Increasingly they need digital credentials that can be shared with employers and transferable between institutions.

Making them more communicative, is also important. Graduates want to share their entire experience by including internships, class projects, volunteer activities, study abroad and more.

Helping Early Innovators

Many forward-thinking institutions are already working with Parchment to innovate the form and function of academic credentials. From clickable or visual transcripts to digital diplomas and certificates that can be shared on LinkedIn, Facebook or with employers through a secure link. These institutions are listening to their student’s requests and taking the leap into the future.

As students continue to demand changes, as we observed through this survey, we’ll start to see more and more institutions looking to make some changes. Everyone at Parchment is excited to help institutions, and the students they serve, turn their credentials into opportunities.

View the whole infographic with all of the key findings below and click to download a PDF Version.

Read the complete report for a more detailed analysis.

Parchment Roadmap: A Digital Platform for Turning Credentials into Opportunities

To our members, employees and partners,

At Parchment, our mission is to help turn credentials into opportunities. The Parchment platform transforms credentials from paper to digital, and in doing so enables credential issuers to innovate the form and function of their credentials at a time of great need in our knowledge-based economy and society.

We use the term “platform” thoughtfully, reflecting how our technology connects the different stakeholders who participate in a credentialing ecosystem: issuers, receivers, and most importantly, learners. The term also reflects the ability of our technology to enable learners to access, collect and put to work the academic and professional credentials they earn throughout their lives.

Initially we developed the Parchment platform to support academic transcripts. The Parchment transcript network enables millions of enrollments at member high schools and universities to request, collect and deliver their digital transcripts to pursue admissions, licensing and employment opportunities. In 2016 we transacted more than 8.7 million credentials, representing a 40% annual growth rate (CAGR) since 2011.

The Next Step in Realizing Our Vision

Today, I’m proud to announce that we are taking another step towards realizing our vision by adding digital certificates and diplomas to the Parchment platform. We are bringing these academic credential types into the digital, portable and social world seamlessly, without introducing new terminology and concepts. We are excited that Parchment is now the first true multi-credential digital platform.

The addition of these new credential types is just part of the story. The launch of our new Parchment Award services for diplomas and certificates also puts the learner credential profile front and center. The credential profile allows students and alumni to manage and share their credentials securely, collected from across the Parchment network.

Put simply, our expanded digital credentialing platform enables learners and institutions to collect, verify and share any digital credential. It’s a milestone for us, so allow me to share more and put it into the context of our broader roadmap.

Three Enablers for Turning Credentials Into Opportunities

In a recent blog post, Parchment CEO Matthew Pittinsky described three key technology enablers that help make Parchment’s mission a reality. Our roadmap is laser focused on delivering those enablers for our institutional members and their individual learners:

  • First, credentials must be issued digitally with machine-readable data. Only digital credentials with data are truly actionable.
  • Second, institutions must leverage the inherent benefits of digitization to innovate the form and function of their credentials.
  • Third, digital credentials should be truly portable, collected and controlled by the learner through a unified interface across the places where they learned.

As a company, these are the north stars that guide our product development, and it is our privilege to bring them to life. The Parchment credential management platform is how we get there, serving three distinct stakeholders: the learner, the issuer and the receiver. Much like a three-legged stool, each stakeholder group has a role to play.  

What Learners Need and What We Will Provide

Our goal for learners is to provide a secure, unified experience for requesting, collecting, delivering and displaying their official academic credentials. We are investing in Parchment.com so that learners may create a comprehensive online portfolio of their verified credentials in one secure place. To that end, over the past 18 months we have:

  • Enhanced Parchment.com to include a credential profile, a personal vault of digital credentials, that supports not just digital transcripts but also digital diplomas and certificates. The credential profile expands on the credential request and delivery features that are the core of Parchment’s consumer services.
  • Developed new integrations to make it easy for learners to promote and verify their credentials on social media sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
  • Improved the core tools that allow learners to order their credentials through a modern, mobile-optimized experience, and to track their requests, both electronic deliveries and those we print and mail.

Looking forward, our roadmap for the learner focuses on refining and extending the credential profile, especially with digital diplomas and certificates. As today’s mobile learners accumulate educational credentials from multiple sources, Parchment’s credential profile will be there for learners to collect, share and analyze their credentials across all those institutions.

Our institutional members using the Parchment 7 platform (all high schools and some higher education institutions) already have this entire experience available to their students and alumni. Our Parchment 6 members (most of our higher education institutions) will be able to offer this experience to their learners by the end of 2017.

What Issuers Need and What We Will Provide

Job number one for issuers is to securely automate the request and delivery of their credentials. Yes, our goal for issuers begins with  the movement of paper-based credential request and fulfillment to digital.  From there, we want digital credentials to support key innovations in the content and format of credentials, better serving learners in admissions and employment. Finally, we are excited to support our members as they experiment with new formats and credential types (e.g., competency and experiential transcripts). To that end, we have:

  • Transformed our transcript-centric credentials services into a true multi-credential management platform that allows members to issue all types of digital credentials. We now support many different kinds of transcripts (academic, co-curricular, experiential and competency based), as well as unique features for digital diplomas and certificates.
  • Created security mechanisms for embedding metadata in all issued credentials to make sure they’re 100 percent verifiable using Adobe blue-ribbon technology.  
  • Allowed delivery of credentials in standards-based, machine-readable data to increase operating efficiencies and allow receivers of credentials to act on them much faster.

Looking forward, our roadmap for the issuer focuses on a variety of initiatives. We will:

  • Support comprehensive student record initiatives by enabling many newer/standardized formats of experiential and competency-based credentials. These innovative credentials will allow attributes that make them much more useful for employers and allow learners to stack them to promote lifelong learning.
  • Expand Parchment 6 automation options to members using the Parchment 7 platform as we bring the best of both of these platforms to all of our members. We’ll also further enhance these automations to get machine readable data in standard formats such as PESC XML.
  • Support for all 36 of the Liaison International Common Application Services (CAS) including NursingCAS, PharmCAS, et. al.
  • Enable registrars working with continuing education, single schools, multiple schools and school districts to better customize and personalize their workflows.
  • Deliver easy ways for Parchment Send members to accept requests from third parties such as background-check companies and employers. (We already allow Parchment Receive members to request credentials from learners of Parchment 7 members.)
  • Lead the charge to enable vendor-independent electronic data exchange of credentials by supporting the development and adoption of open standards such as PESC EdExchange.
  • Expand the scale and scope of our analytics exponentially to include how credentials are being used, trends in where credentials are being delivered, which social media are being used to share credentials and the reach/impact of such social sharing.

What Parchment Award Will Provide for Issuers

Parchment Award enhances the Parchment credentials management platform and allows organizations to have a new workflow of “Award/Claim/Share.” This adds significant new capabilities to our platform, especially allowing us to mass issue certificates and diplomas to learners. They can then claim the credentials on Parchment.com and share them on social media such as facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to showcase their achievements.

What Receivers Need and What We Will Provide

Our goal for receivers is to allow admissions offices and employers to benefit from the efficiencies and insights that digital credentials provide. We want receivers spending time on candidate evaluation, not credential collection and processing. To that end, we have:

  • Provided a unified inbox to collect all incoming documents, whether sent using Parchment’s network or other services such as Naviance, SPEEDE, CHESSIC and BridgeU.
  • Enabled the electronic delivery and seamless processing of digital credentials as data, not just as a PDF image, eliminating paper documents, increasing operational efficiency and decreasing time to admissions or hiring decisions.

Looking forward, our roadmap for receivers will address a number of key issues. We will:

  • Expand the unified inbox with additional partners so that receivers can benefit from seamless electronic inbound processing regardless of the technology used by a credential issuer.
  • Improve integration with enrollment technologies and Enterprise Content Management (ECM) Systems such as Banner Document Management System (BDMS), Slate and Hyland OnBase.
  • Lead the charge for a vendor-independent exchange by supporting development of open standards, such as the PESC EdExchange.
  • Provide the ability to mine the data, enabling admissions offices to promote institutional brand and facilitate recruitment.

The Journey Continues

It’s a great responsibility to be the technology platform that helps facilitate such important transitions in the lives of learners, from high school to college and beyond. While we have come a long way from the days when we only digitized high school transcripts for college admissions, our roadmap makes it clear we have still have a long way to go.

We are adding support for secure, digital diplomas and certificates today, and in future releases, we will continue to expand to all types of academic credentials (and eventually professional credentials). The Parchment credential management platform connects the dots between learners, issuers, and receivers as they progress through every stage of education and career.  

Which brings us back to our mission. In it we say Parchment helps turn credentials into opportunities. We include this qualifier because technology is not the universal solvent for education. It is the network of school and university members, and their learners, that turn credentials into opportunities. We are proud and humbled of the role we play in this.

In the future, we’ll be publishing a series of blog posts that explain the technical underpinnings of the platform and how you can get started using it.

Rajeev Arora, Sr. Vice President of Product Parchment Inc.

Parchment Connect National: Bringing the Community Together

Oops! We did it again! Our fifth annual user’s conference, Parchment Connect National, was an outstanding success. We’re so glad so many of you could join us!

“I had an amazing experience. Everyone was so nice and helpful. I am so glad that I attended.”

More than 150 postsecondary registrars, admissions officers, state officials and secondary counselors joined Parchment in Washington D.C. on March 2-3, 2017. The program offered four topic tracks to make it easy to get actionable information no matter what your role is at the institution.

“The sessions were all very informative, yet light hearted and spirited.”

There was a little bit of something for everyone, including:

  • Which documents colleges do and do not want from high schools
  • How long does it take a college to process incoming documents, and how to talk to students and parents
  • Different approaches to creating co-curricular transcripts
  • Issuing digital diplomas to December’s graduating class … by text message!
  • Upcoming new enhancements, like USPS and FedEx tracking on every envelope sent using Parchment’s print and mail service.

With plenty of time to network with attendees during lunches, breaks, and the party on Thursday night, attendees overwhelmingly said the conference was really helpful for them.

What was the main benefit of attending? Here are a few of the responses …

  • “Networking with high schools and better understanding what they are required to send per their state requirements. This was helpful as a Receive member.”
  • “Learning about new processes we could implement at our school.”
  • “Meeting other institutions who are in the same situation as we are, or have gone through the transition from Basic to Premium.”
  • “Networking, international credentials, and learning about larger trends in the world of innovating credentials.”
  • “I have never used Parchment so I learned everything from the ground up.”
  • “I was able to learn so much more about what Parchment Premium can offer our institution.”
  • “Learning so much that Parchment offers and to utilize more at my Institution.”
  • “Update on products”
  • “RoadMap and networking for follow up to some opportunities”
  • “The new enhancements in regards to Diplomas and certificates”
  • “Learning more about how other college use Parchment Send”

Weren’t able to make it this year? That’s ok! All year long we’ll be criss-crossing the country for regional Parchment Connect events before reconvening for Parchment Connect National, March 24-25 2018 in Orlando, FL. Save the date! You don’t want to miss it.

Registration Now Open for Parchment Connect National 2017

Join your peers from across the nation for Parchment Connect National 2017, our fifth annual user conference, will be held March 2-3 in Washington, D.C.

This is the premier event for Parchment Members, focused on fostering community across the Parchment network, knowledge-sharing and discussion around the latest advancements in the rapidly evolving world of credential exchange.

Conference highlights include:

  • Best practice and and training sessions to help you get the most from Parchment
  • Peer-led conversations around digital credential exchange
  • Parchment product roadmap overview– learn what’s new and on the horizon
  • Inspiring keynote speakers
  • And much more!

The 2017 session detail will be released in late December, but in the meantime, check out the 2016 agenda and session descriptions for a good idea of what’s in store for 2017!

Ready to share your expertise with the Parchment network?  The Call for Session Proposals is open until December 9th. Especially of interest are presentations that are highly interactive and address the needs of a wide range of Parchment Members. If your session is selected you’ll receive complimentary conference registration, a complimentary night at the host hotel and more!

Register by December 31st to get 50% off with Early Bird pricing.  As an added benefit, with a paid registration to Parchment Connect National, you’ll receive a complimentary registration to our thought-leadership event, the Parchment Summit on Innovating Academic Credentials, held the day prior on March 1st.

Turning Credentials Into Opportunities: A Vision for Parchment

To our school and university members, employees and partners,

Parchment’s mission is to help turn credentials into opportunities, and we take this mission seriously. More than a slogan, it’s why most of us at Parchment joined the company and why so many schools, colleges and universities are members of the Parchment network.  

We include the qualifier “help” intentionally because it reminds us that our role is one of enabling. Our school and university members are the central players when it comes to making academic credentials a more effective and meaningful currency for pursuing opportunities for further education or in the labor market.

Three Big Enablers

We believe that to turn credentials into opportunities, we, as a community, have to do three fundamental things.

First, make all credentials digital, and digital credentials machine-readable data.
This may be self-evident in some quarters and a “technical detail” in others, but it’s a Big Idea nonetheless. When credentials are data:

  • Two-year institutions can track students who progress into a four-year program and award them an Associate’s degree in passing once they’ve met the requirements.
  • Employers can begin to evaluate and understand the relationship between postsecondary education experiences and outcomes, with the key talent management outcomes that drive their organization’s success.
  • Summative outcomes like courses and grades can be explored through hyperlinks to access course descriptions, syllabi and evidence of learning (e.g., key projects and papers).
  • High school students can assess their admissions probabilities at colleges of interest, and college admissions offices can use prior academic performance to help guide student course placement, not just make an admissions decision.
  • Linkages between learner, credentials and opportunities can be measured and leveraged in ways that help rationalize a patchwork system of education, credentials and occupational fields.

Digital technology removes the friction that keeps credentials separated, whether in manila file folders or in frames lining the hallway of a home. Credentials that live as data can be combined into a single profile that reflects a lifetime of academic achievement, giving learners not only the right, but also the ability, to control who sees their record and to put that information to work on their behalf.

Second, be more innovative in the form and function of credentials.
The transcripts we’ve used for generations were developed by institutions to document courses and credits for mobility within the education system. While respecting that important use, transcripts can and should be transformed, creating more value for learners, employers and academic institutions.

Next-generation transcripts will be visual, richer and more descriptive, showing achievement over time and the distribution of courses taken by topic or skill. Academic transcripts will be extended to include experiential achievements such as club leadership, study abroad and faculty research collaborations. Diplomas will be gateways to portfolios, which provide evidence of learning. And students will be able to select focal courses to highlight at the top of their transcript, calling an employer’s attention to relevant learning. In short, the one-size-fits-all credential types of transcripts and diplomas will give way to different credential formats that are more personalized to the purpose for which they are being requested.

Getting to this point will require us to think differently. Rather than presuming that transcripts and diplomas are summary documents that say essentially the same thing, what if we asked employers and admissions offices:  What do you want to know about our graduates? What should we track and how should we express it? Answering these questions thoroughly and honestly could lead us to a superset of data that gets turned into various credential types for various audiences, as needed.

Third, make credentials truly portable, allowing individuals to collect and manage their credentials throughout their lives.
This is a significant but crucial shift. When institutions control credentials they become fragmented for the learner who wants and needs a profile that reflects their collective achievements. When combined in this way—securely and verifiably, with the explicit permission of granting institutions—credentials become currency that helps learners forge a path forward. They create opportunities.

We live in a Credential Society

I am a radical incrementalist. I believe in the ability of technology to transform education, and I believe the way education is transformed is step by step, over time (and not Internet time). To do that and make the changes stick, we need to first recognize where we are now and how far we’ve come.

We live in a world where our economy and our society are knowledge-driven and knowledge-based. Roughly half of adult Americans have an academic credential such as a diploma or certificate, while one in four have a professional credential such as a certification or license. Credentials are the currency that allow us to gain entry into and benefit from this structure, but we lack a way to evaluate the knowledge and comparative value credentials convey.

As a society, we’ve become so awash in credentials that a Connecting Credentials framework  was developed last year to create a set of common reference points. The idea is to develop ways to compare the “level and types of knowledge” that are conferred by certain degrees, certificates, industry certifications, licenses, apprenticeships, badges and more, in order to fully account for all that students achieve in a lifetime of learning.1

It could take a decade of incremental change to get to the point where we can look at credentials and accurately compare the skill sets of two different, but highly skilled, professionals. In the meantime, we need a next-generation digital credential service that supports every transcript, every diploma, every certificate and certification, fully and digitally.

And once we have a fully digital infrastructure for education credentials, we can do more. We can evaluate how certain credentials are represented in the marketplace and help future generations to customize their education. We can also better match employers with prospective employees by studying how credentials affect work outcomes.

In short: we can optimize how students, universities, employers and government institutions spend their time and treasure on higher learning.

Stacking a Future, One Credential at a Time

Education has evolved. We’ve seen it. Many of us at Parchment have worked at schools and universities or in other technology companies that serve educational institutions. With digital technology, today’s graduates can collect and stack credentials that reflect what they learn over a lifetime, helping them navigate fluid careers that ebb and flow as skillsets probably change.

The more we commit to building a digital credential infrastructure, the more opportunities we create for learners to “stack” credentials together to show provable expertise worth hiring or admitting. And the more effectively we can serve employers who want to assess much more than a year-to-year change in GPA and learners who want to showcase their experiences. Institutions also benefit by decommoditizing programs and proving that not all credentials are equal.

But this only works if lifelong learners have a single profile for collecting every credential they earn, which is why we’ve been working so hard to create the next-generation digital credential service. In fact, we use the same three fundamental goals I’ve laid out as our product north stars: making credentials digital and machine readable, innovating the form and function of credentials and making credentials truly portable.

You’ll be hearing more about how our product roadmap is advancing all three from our SVP of Product and Support Rajeev Arora in an upcoming blog post. The evolving Parchment platform for digital credentials serves three distinct stakeholders: the issuer, the learner and the receiver. Each has a role to fulfill. It’s a big step on a long journey we’re taking on behalf of our members. I invite you to be a part of it.

Thank you,

Matthew Pittinsky, Parchment Chief Executive Officer



SOURCING:

  1. https://www.luminafoundation.org/resources/connecting-credentials

Parchment is Now Taking Advance Credential Orders for ITT students

At the center of  the closing of ITT Educational Services, Inc are the students and alumni who were pursuing their postsecondary education and now face the challenge of earning their degree  elsewhere.  Will other colleges accept their ITT credits?  When will they gain access to their transcripts to begin the process of transfer?  In many ways these questions reveal the broader issue of transferring course credits in the U.S. and the lack of a Transfer Student Bill of Rights.  But they are especially urgent and real for those who attended ITT and are now facing the involuntary need to change institutions.

The focus of this post is our announcement today that ITT has engaged Parchment to provide a convenient and national, online request and fulfillment service for ITT transcripts and related credentials.  This service will be available during ITT’s wind-down period and afterward, ensuring a secure and accessible avenue for students and alums to receive the transcript and diploma services they deserve.  As of noon Pacific today, orders may be placed at beta-www.parchment.com/ITT.

If you are a student, alumni or adviser to one, we have some important information to share about how the service works and some expectations to set for what your experience will be like in the first few weeks we are live.

Please be patient and expect initial fulfillment times to be slower than you deserve (several weeks).

Initially, ITT staff will start fulfilling requests placed on Parchment.com.  Their staff are limited, so it is likely that most orders will queue until ITT makes its records available to Parchment’s systems.  Once ITT’s records are available, Parchment can speed up processing time, but given the backlog of orders we will be starting with, we estimate that transcript fulfillment by Parchment will still take several weeks at first.  As the initial backlog of orders is cleared, we expect processing time to take less than 48 hours.  We have developed a special email that will be sent after each order explaining the processing timeline and how you can use Parchment’s online tracking tool to stay up-to-date.

Please take note of your graduation year as the service can support 2001 graduates to current students only.

We are only able to serve students and alumni with graduation years from 2001 to current students.

If you are sending your transcripts to a college or university, please use Parchment to send them electronically.

In addition to online request and tracking, Parchment provides the ability to send your transcripts electronically to colleges instead of us printing and mailing them.  When you start the ordering process, you will be asked to type in the destination.  With more than 80% of colleges accepting electronic transcripts, it is likely that we will recognize your destination and inform you that the admissions office prefers electronic delivery. (It is easier and faster for them to process electronic transcripts, especially when courses need to be evaluated for credit.) You can always choose to send via email to any email address or have printed and mailed to any address.

Please think twice before choosing overnight delivery as an option.

We provide an overnight delivery option, but because of the volume of requests we will be receiving at first, it will still take a while to process your request.  Once processed, we will send it overnight, of course. But we want to make sure that requestors understand that we cannot ensure 24-hour delivery following a request until the initial surge of orders are processed.

Please take advantage of our Help Center.

It’s natural to have questions and we have developed our Help Center to provide assistance when you need it.  If your main question, understandably, is “Where is my transcript?” or “When will my transcript go out?”, the tracking tool is your best and most up-to-date resource.  Beyond that, we have lots of tips and guides and when needed, you can file a support request via the Help Center and we will work to respond by email as soon as possible.  We are adding staff to help serve ITT students.  That said, the watchword remains patience as we work to serve a large number of students all at once.

Please understand that there is a fee.

Yes, I saved this one for last.  In cases like this we do what most state agencies and many colleges and universities do — we charge a request fee.  For electronic requests that fee is $12.  If you choose for your transcript to be printed and delivered by mail, there is an additional $2.50 handling fee.  We recommend you send electronically, both to save those costs and because it’s the delivery method colleges prefer.  If you choose overnight delivery or international destinations, the handling fee will be higher based on what you’ve chosen.

Schools or hiring agencies may need to request ITT credentials too.

While we anticipate the bulk of ITT credential orders to come directly from students and alumni, we recognize that there are colleges, universities, hiring agencies and other credential verifiers that have permission to request credentials on behalf of ITT students or alumni. In order to process these types of orders, requestors will need to be have a Parchment Receive account (don’t worry, its free we make it easy). Organizations looking to receive ITT credentials through Parchment can learn more about our Parchment Receive program here.

Our mission is to help turn credentials into opportunities.

At a time like this you are probably not interested in the mission statement of the organization that is providing your services.  That’s understandable.  I share it because we want you to know, that we know, how important gaining secure and speedy access to your transcript is.  We work everyday with learners in mind.  The credentials we enable are critical to so many transitions and goals that people are pursuing, from admissions, to licensing to employment.  You deserve our best and you will have it.  We need your patience at first as we complete the transition from ITT and work through a big backlog and rush.  Our sleeves are rolled up to make that happen as soon as possible.  

We wish you the best of luck, wherever your transcripts may take you.

Matthew Pittinsky, Ph.D.

CEO

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