The Power of Digital Credentials: Badges, Diplomas, Certificates and more

Digital Badges are capturing the imagination of credential issuers such as employers, college registrars, licensing boards, and non-profits. The ability to digitally represent skills or achievements that can be shared and stacked makes eyes light up with the possibilities.

Traditional credentials are making the move to being issued digitally, and the same excitement that the original digital credential — the badge — elicited is now emerging for the newest digital credentials.  Registrars and employers are realizing that just as they have explored offering digital badges, they can just as easily issue their long established credentials (such as diplomas, certificates, and licenses) digitally and get even more value out of them. And they’re getting excited!

Why Digital Credentials Are Exciting

As digital credentials, our traditional credentials are expanding their functionality.

They’re more easily shareable: Secure and verified links can be shared directly with employers or on social media, such as LinkedIn (be logged in to see examples).

They’re machine readable: With data backing the credentials, algorithms for placement or workforce management can be powered, increasing accuracy and efficiency.

They link to evidence: Deep links to portfolios, projects, and instructors can provide depth of insight that supplements the credential significantly.

They’re trackable: As digital credentials move throughout the world via social media and shared links, their footprint of their impact can be measured more easily.

They’re faster: Issuable in moments, a digital credential can be put to use as soon as the learner receives a text message or email. Getting credentials faster makes them immediately more impactful.

Powering Digital Credentials

By being digital, credentials can do more than ever before, and as a company focused on digital credentials, Parchment has developed a platform to help issuers, receivers and learners make the most of their digital credentials.

For Issuers: A full suite of tools to manage and issue credentials digitally and to track their usage across cohorts and time. Issuers can see their brand emboldened as branded digital credentials are shared across social media, reaching new audiences. With total control, the issuer can add credential descriptions, competencies, links and govern expiration dates.

For Receivers: Receiving all records at scale and incorporating them into their business systems to provide admission, placement, or employment is key. With data backing the credentials up, the intake process is faster, more accurate, and make achieving strategic goals easier.  Digital credentials help make better hiring or admissions decisions.

For Learners: Perhaps the largest beneficiary of the digital platform, learners can collect all of their academic credentials from every credential issuer and stack and share them (in a secure and verified way) with employers or other organizations. Additional management tools let them order and send to any destination worldwide, or download and print. With a central place to collect from credential issuers and then be able to share their academic achievements with receivers to get their perfect job, learners are empowered to market themselves better than they ever have before.

Learn more about Parchment’s Comprehensive Digital Platform!

Education’s Bright Future

As a group who watch credential innovation closely, we are so excited to see the innovation that digital credentials are bringing to higher education! The possibilities are endless and it’s exciting to be able to play a part as our industry starts to really turn credentials into opportunities.

We’d love to hear if you have a digital credentials strategy! Comment below or contact us to let us know what you’re planning.

Let’s Go Digital: Scan & Index Your Legacy Records

Do you have a storeroom that makes you cringe? You have nothing to be ashamed of! More than half the schools in the nation have rooms on their campus bursting at the seams with stored documents. However, being part of a very large group doesn’t make it any easier when a former student wants one of those records. Veritable days could be lost combing through folders and boxes! You’ve had a project to digitize your legacy records on your wish list for a long time. Don’t keep putting off digitizing your paper legacy student transcripts, we can help. It’s easy to move your paper alumni records to Parchment, repurpose that old file room, and take the headache (and the walk down the hall!) out of helping your students out.

Why now? Well, outside of summer being a great time to tackle a project, there are significant security risks when handling money or accepting credit card numbers via mail, fax and email. When the ordering moves online, all of the fee collection happens in a secure and PCI compliant way. (Wouldn’t it be great to not have to deal with the hassle of making change and cashing checks?)

Parchment has a long history of making credentials digital, and we know the security and care that must be taken with them. Converting your paper alumni records to digital helps you preserve your irreplaceable records forever!

Tackling the storeroom

Getting started is a lot easier than you might expect. You can send a sample box to Parchment and we can sort through it to determine what credentials you have – and what you’d like to digitize.

Our team can work with you to scan and index key student information so the records can be ordered and fulfilled electronically. Everything from student achievement records, transcripts, verifications, diplomas … or any thing else the storeroom might hold!

Here’s how it works:

  • Simply send a sample box of intact records to Parchment. (No torn, faded or oversize documents.)
  • Our FERPA-trained staff digitizes them and provides you with secure PDFs that include seven key data points: first name, middle name, last name, date of birth, student ID, last 4 digits of SSN and graduation year.
  • Both you and Parchment QA review the PDFs from the sample box. Then we’ll proceed with digitizing all the student records you provided.
  • Store the records in our Credentials Library. (We’ll shred your paper documents or send them back to you, whichever you prefer.)

Scan & Index is extremely flexible, allowing you to create a solution for digitizing and managing all of your paper records quickly and efficiently. Let Parchment know what your goals are for going digital!

The Comprehensive Student Record: What to Include, and Why

A new generation of digital credentials has made it possible to not only track grades and GPA but also show the work behind the scores and highlight extracurricular activities that reveal skills never before tracked on a transcript. Educators from around the country are in discussions regarding how to make the best use of the available technology, settling on an idea that’s come to be known as the Comprehensive Student Record (CSR) — an all-inclusive account of in-school performance, delivered in a way that’s directly relatable to recruiters searching for skilled hires.

Bridging an Information Gap

We recently polled 1,015 students of varying education levels and found the majority believe adding advanced digital features to their transcripts and diplomas would be either “extremely useful” or “very useful” for finding a job and starting a career.

Some features rated higher than others:

  • 76% of all respondents believe the ability to transfer verified credentials to an employer or other universities in a single package would be very or extremely useful
  • 71% want competency-based credentials that certify skills learned.
  • 69% want shareable credentials for posting to professional networks such as LinkedIn.
  • 67% want “clickable” credentials that reveal details about their academic experiences.
  • 63% want to be able to view credentials on a mobile device.

Our new survey backs up what we’ve heard from students in the past. In 2015, 60% of graduates surveyed wanted to share their diploma on social media sites to improve marketability (37%), share school pride (20%) or for verification of their achievements (18%). Seventy-one percent of those surveyed said digital credentials boost their marketability to potential employers.

The findings come as educators, administrators, registrars, counselors, and others advocate ways to better arm students entering the workforce. We’ve yet to see a consensus, but there’s already broad agreement regarding the need for credentials that are digital, shareable, and reflect a broad range of skills learned.

Pressure to Improve

Kevin Krueger is one of the leading voices arguing for a credential overhaul in the form of the CSR, and with good reason. He’s president of the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA), which is teaming with the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO) to develop models for the CSR in a project funded by the Lumina Foundation. Finding the right mix of academic and out-of-the classroom experience to reflect on a common CSR is of central concern to Krueger.

“Five years ago, university students would go through four years of school and then create a resume their senior year. What we know now is that’s not good enough; the career planning process should start at admissions,” Krueger said in an interview at Parchment’s second annual Summit on Innovating Academic Credentials, held in March in Washington, DC.

Think of it as a call to action to help overburdened students and their parents. Data from the College Board put increases in tuition and fees at around 3% annually in recent years. Trouble is, graduates are entering a job market in which starting salaries are expected to rise by an average of just 4% — and that’s the best result in a decade, according to a recent survey from Michigan State University’s Collegiate Employment Research Institute. Giving grads credit for real-life skills earned as well as academic performance could prove crucial in their efforts to land better-paying jobs upon matriculation.

The ABCs of the CSR

What should the CSR include? Survey respondents singled out a comprehensive and accurate reflection of academic performance in a digital credential as their top priority, with 78% deeming it either “extremely useful” or “very useful.” Detailed descriptions of academic undertakings ranked next with 69% ranking it “extremely useful” or “very useful” while 66% want a CSR that discusses completed internships and other forms of student employment. No other features scored above 60% of the field. The message? Grads want classroom achievement to count when it comes to competing in the marketplace.

“Organize [college experience and achievement] in such a way that it would allow an employer to sort or search on a set of criteria or competencies, in the same way, you can on LinkedIn, and you have a companion document to a resume that demonstrates the learning behind the degree,” NASPA’s Krueger says, speaking to the need.

Demonstrating value in the form a Comprehensive Student Record that documents not only grades but also challenges overcome, learning milestones achieved, interpersonal strengths observed, and verifiable skills earned could alter the equation and better prepare grads to fight for space in a competitive job market.

[callout-1 image=”http://beta-www.parchment.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/UpgradeToPremium.jpg” button-text=”Watch” button-link=”http://aacrao.adobeconnect.com/paypbwkyu13a/” secondary-text=”Watch the Webinar”]

Watch the Webinar:
The Comprehensive Student Records Project Overview and Updates from UMUC and UCO.

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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.

Offering Degree or Enrollment Verifications For Your Students and Third Parties

For a long time, Parchment has been focused on helping high schools and colleges send their transcripts electronically. You can’t believe how much time we spend thinking about and perfecting the art of simple and secure electronic transcripts! But, transcripts aren’t the only official academic record that our institutions work with. To truly manage all academic credentials with one comprehensive platform (aka Parchment’s mission), that platform must support every type of record. Including degree or enrollment verifications.

Verifications: What are they all about?

Degree verifications are used by human resource departments, background check companies, or even other academic institutions to confirm the learner’s education background.

Enrollment verifications are similarly helpful, as they illustrate the enrollment status, courses, and in some cases grades. Knowing this information can help with student loans or discounts, transcript verification, or probably most importantly, loan deferment.

Clearly, these two records are critical to helping learners verify their education! Students (and other parties) should be able to easily request and send them anywhere!

We’re excited to make that happen using Parchment!

Students Can Order and Send Their Own Verifications

Many of Parchment’s members add verifications to their ordering portals so that students can take advantage of the simple online ordering process. The same place students get their transcript or their replacement diploma is the same place they can order their degree or enrollment verification. With a few steps to indicate which records should be sent to which destination, the student is ready to check out. Step by step notification keeps the student informed until the verifications have been received. For the critical purpose these records serve, having that notification makes a world of difference.

Third Parties Can Order Verifications Too!

Third parties, including employers, scholarship providers, parents and others, need to order official records, especially enrollment or degree verifications. That’s why Parchment is making it easy to allow orders for any record from any third party. Each institution can determine which records they’d like to make available for third parties to order. Then the third party can request the record on behalf of the student, provide written consent and submit any required payments. Administrators are able to review third party requests before releasing them for fulfillment. It’s a simple and straightforward process!

Learn More …

So if you haven’t already, there’s never been a better time to add verifications to your storefront for your learners. Want to know more about the verifications or the third party ordering experience? We’ll be happy to show you!

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.

3 Trends Driving Credential Innovation: What We Learned at the 2nd Annual Parchment Summit

Each year at Parchment we bring together educators and employers to discuss the future of academic credentials, hiring, lifelong learning and the careers of tomorrow. The second annual Parchment Summit on Innovating Academic Credentials was held in Washington D.C. March 1.

“Instead of the look of a traditional academic conference in which registrars are with other registrars or career services staff are with other career services staff, we like to bring together all the different parts of a university involved with credential innovation so they can see some of the broader themes and learn from each other,” says Matthew Pittinsky, PhD., CEO of Parchment.

Connecting the links in the credential value chain

The 2017 program included keynote speeches from bestselling education author and Washington Post contributor Jeff Selingo and Wesleyan University president Michael Roth, six breakout discussions, and two “fireside chats” in which panels of experts debated the future of university credentials and what it means now that employers are starting to use Big Data to mine “people analytics” for making hiring decisions. Three trends emerged from these discussions.

  1. From Education to Career Pathways

“Five years ago, university students would go through four years of school and then create a resume their senior year,” says Kevin Krueger, President of the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA). “What we know now is that’s not good enough; the career planning process should start at admissions.”

Rising levels of student debt and a global workforce have increased pressure on universities to connect the dots between the entirety of the college experience and earned skills that can translate in the workplace. Forward-thinking schools such as Princeton are responding by creating programs for helping students envision and create a pathway from the classroom to a career.

“We’re shifting toward helping students develop a personalized exploration of meaning and purpose in their engagement with the world,” says Pulin Sanghvi, Executive Director of Career Services at Princeton. To bring this approach to life, he’s created and teaches a course called Career and Life Vision, which he describes as a “hypothesis-driven model of self-exploration” to help students collect the skills needed to achieve what they want from life.

  1. Communicating Soft Skills More Important than GPA

Selingo, whose new book is titled There Is Life After College: What Parents and Students Should Know About Navigating School to Prepare for the Jobs of Tomorrow, says the biggest opportunity in credential innovation is in figuring out ways to properly assess and credential for employers all the learning students do when they aren’t at a desk — because a majority of the work they’ll do on the job will occur on the move, in meetings, or at events. Anywhere but at a desk.

“The world of work now is a mashup of activities, there isn’t a scheduled day,” Selingo says. “it’s a lot of negotiation, it’s a lot of teamwork, it’s a lot of moving from one activity to another activity. And that’s why I think, in many ways, there’s a lot more similarity between preschool and the world of work than the traditional notion of college and the world of work.”

To bridge the gap, NASPA is teaming up with the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO) to create what’s known as a Comprehensive Student Record for capturing and assessing learning outcomes, observed competencies, and experiences outside the classroom. What’s the difference between that and a resume? Krueger says it comes down to authentication. Students can’t merely claim competencies; they have to be earned and authenticated by a university.

“That way, skills and competencies are provable,” Krueger says. “Organize [the data] in such a way that would allow an employer to sort or search on a set of criteria or competencies, in the same way you can on LinkedIn, and you’ve a companion document that demonstrates the learning behind the degree.”

  1. Employers will demand more and better assessments from universities

Employers have long struggled to quantify classroom work when hiring. In recent years, some have turned to multi-stage interviews conducted over the course of weeks or months to better get to know recent graduates before making an offer. Sanghvi says that’s problematic.

“Hiring managers don’t have the ability to invest in 100 coffees with every candidate that comes their way,” he says. Their answer? Put more pressure on universities to better connect the dots between curriculum and on-campus experience with marketable on-the-job skills. Accelerated adoption of the Comprehensive Student Record or something like it could help to solve the problem.

“I think a lot of this is going to be driven by employers when they say to universities: we’re not going to hire your students anymore because they don’t come to us with the underlying skills we need,” Selingo says.

Stay involved in the discussion

As with all discussions on the future of education, the discussion about how to innovate academic credentials will continue online before the next Parchment Summit in 2018. Follow along on Twitter and Facebook and bookmark our resource page to stay connected and engage in Summit conversations on Twitter using #ParchmentSummit.

“What drives innovation is that we expect credentials to do more in today’s knowledge economy than we did even 50 years ago,” Pittinsky says. “We expect them to function for the student in the labor market. We expect them to be portable, collectible, shareable, stackable and that’s just today. We’re always going to expect more of credentials.”

The First Digital Diplomas Issued and the Registrars ( and Learners) Who Love Them

The First Digital Diplomas Issued and the Registrars ( and Learners) Who Love Them

In February, we announced Parchment Award, part of our expanded credential management platform. With Parchment Award, you can securely issue digital credentials to your recipients, who then claim and share them with verified links to employers and on social media. Read all about it in our press release.

Here’s where it gets really exciting. Recently, several Parchment Award charter members spoke about their inaugural issuing of digital certificates: Clark Atlanta University, Texas A&M University Corpus Christi and University of Nebraska Omaha. We think you’ll find their enthusiasm for going digital inspiring. Could your school be next?

Clark Atlanta University is fighting credential fraud with digital diplomas says Registrar Susan Gibson. The school plans to roll out the service for graduates starting with class of 2017, providing proof of graduation within hours.

Clark Atlanta is the first HBCU (historically black colleges and universities) in the country to issue digital certificates. The electronic credentials support the university’s charter to “lift every voice,” making it easier for graduates to compete for jobs. Learn more.

Along with the traditional paper degree, graduating students from Texas A&M Corpus Christi will receive an online version, providing portability and the instant gratification of getting diplomas right away. The first in Texas to issue digital diplomas to their winter 2016 class, TMUCC notified learners via SMS text notifications that increased claim rates by 40%! And more than 50% of their graduates are sharing those credentials on social media.

According to Michael Rendon, a university registrar, A & M Corpus Christi graduates now have an advantage in a competitive job market. “The difference between this and a paper one is that it’s shareable with employers and on Twitter, Facebook or other social media,” he explains. “They’ll have it for the rest of their lives.” Learn more.

Also quick to jump on the bandwagon, University of Nebraska at Omaha is the first to include undergraduate and graduate diplomas and certificates for its winter 2016 class. The school promoted the digital diplomas with two email notifications and on its web page. To date, almost 1,000 graduates have digital diplomas to use with employees.

Learners are pretty thrilled with the digital credentials as well. One 2016 graduate, who earned a degree in computer science from the university, believes that showing a digital diploma gives you an edge. “It’s a no-brainer to attach with my resume,” says Michael L.

Michigan Members Weigh In On their Parchment Experience

What do these five registrars in the Michigan have in common? While we’re sure they are longing for spring and gearing up for graduation, they also took time out of their busy schedules to tell us how Parchment has made their lives just a little easier.

Western Michigan University has been a Parchment member since 2011. “Our partnership with Parchment has allowed us to improve the transcript ordering process for students by providing current and former students with the ability to order transcripts online through a secure site and to have their transcripts delivered electronically to any destination,” Registrar Carrie Cumming explains. “Approximately 80% of our transcripts are being processed through Parchment. As a result, we have experienced significant cost savings through a reduction in transcript paper, postage and staff workloads.”

Newer Parchment members, Hillsdale College, Kalamazoo College, Madonna University and Monroe County Community College also weighed in.

“Hillsdale College began its relationship with Parchment in response to an increasing need for secure, electronic transmission of official student transcripts,” says Registrar Doug McArthur. “Start-up was efficient, timely and error-free. Since launch, students have reported overwhelming satisfaction with the Parchment service; a sentiment that is wholly shared by College administrators.”

“Kalamazoo College’s experience with Parchment has been extremely positive,” reports Registrar Nicole Kragt. “After reviewing a number of different products, we decided on Parchment for its ability to not only do electronic transcripts but also paper transcripts. This and their presentation had us hooked. Our goals were to see a quicker turnaround time and to relieve time from our transcripts processor.”

According to Nicole, overall the transition to Parchment handling our transcripts was smooth. “We had some glitches that we needed to work through in getting our SIS to talk with Parchment that slowed the automation process, but the support we received throughout the process was incredible,” she adds.

The results of implementing Parchment at Kalamazoo College are impressive. “We’ve been fully automated for about a year and a half and the time it’s saved in our office has been tremendous. We’ve been able to restructure our office staff and have saved significant money, allowing the College to reallocate that money elsewhere. Additionally, the feedback we’ve received from our students have been positive overall. We’ve been asked for electronic transcripts for years and the ability to fulfill that request is invaluable.”

“We really appreciate the time and patience the Parchment team has showed Madonna University from the beginning,” shares Registrar Dina Dubois. “We were new to the online ordering world, so their guidance was really valuable as we worked our way through the set-up.”

“Online ordering has been very well received by our students and alumni. By the end of the third month of use, we had close to 75% of our orders processed through the Parchment system, and that usage has grown,” Dina continues. “We can now provide an official, secure, electronic version of the transcript that we couldn’t previously provide. The best feature is the automated notifications that are sent to the requestor. These notifications keep students informed of the progress of their order with little to no effort on our part.”

“Parchment Exchange has provided our students and alumni with the ability to order and send transcripts electronically while addressing all of the features Monroe County Community College was looking for,” Register Tracy Vogt says. “The customer service provided by Parchment during implementation and trouble-shooting has been top notch. MCCC and our students and alumni are very happy with Parchment!”

Thanks for the feedback, Michiganders! Now, on to spring and graduation!

Empowering the Employer: Parchment Summit 2017

With March here, many people start thinking about spring, St. Patrick’s Day and March Madness. But for those of us in the credentialing world, we worked hard to make sure March means one thing: The Parchment Summit on Innovating Academic Credentials.

This year’s event, held Wednesday, March 1st in Washington DC, focused on bridging the gap between employers and credentialing institutions. We were joined by journalists, leaders in higher education and employers like JetBlue Airways with the common thread amongst the group being a shared interest in ensuring we have a qualified, engaged workforce. In year two of the Parchment Summit, we concentrated on bringing forth conversations related to which employers collect academic credentials and why, seeking to further open up the lines of communication between higher education and the workforce.

“Right now we’re in an awkward spot where there appears to be a mismatch between what employers say they want and what they believe colleges and universities are producing,” said Ted Mitchell, former Under Secretary of Education for the Obama Administration, in a recent EdSurge story

In partnership with Connecting Credentials, the 2017 Parchment Summit featured keynote speakers, fireside chats and breakout sessions.

“As our students pursue a broader and more diverse range of career paths than anytime in the past, the growth of new, more flexible credentials will be critical to their ability to shape and tell their unique stories,” said Pulin Sanghvi, Executive Director, Office of Career Services, Princeton University. “I found the Parchment Summit to be thought-provoking in bringing together leading-edge thinkers on how this important space is evolving, and what the future will look like. In the course of our day together, we covered a broad range of topics related to credential innovation, new models of recruiting, and the enduring value of the liberal arts. I found myself on a steep learning curve the entire day, and already have a large number of ideas to bring back to Princeton.”

Videos from the 2017 Parchment Summit will be available on ParchmentSummit.com in April. In the meantime, follow us on social media via @parchment and @parchmentsummit and search for the 2017 Summit conversations using #parchmentsummit. Parchment and many attendees live tweeted sessions this year so you can quickly catch up on the conversations as we work to make the videos available.

Learn more about this year’s program here.

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

How to Use Lifetime Learning to Climb the Ladder

Thanks to technology, it’s never been easier to adopt a lifelong learning habit. Some of us have one and don’t even know it.

Consider the customer service rep who scours the Internet to find old manuals that hold the answers for customers who call in with difficult questions. Every piece of gathered data improves her chances of serving well, which, in turn, increases her value.

Every industry has this version of the stereotypical go-getter. Journalists who master new research databases are learners. Machinists who figure out how to retool an assembly line are learners. And schoolteachers who spend summers digging through curriculum research are as much learners as the students they serve each fall.

Others graduate from spot-learning to formalized training. Sources range from sophisticated catalog operators such as lynda.com to association and corporate-led certification programs, to institutionally sponsored Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs. Which should you choose? Start with a program that not only fits your schedule, but also suits your learning style.

Then, make sure there’s a digitally-available certificate awarded upon completion. You may need it to prove you’ve acquired the skills to advance to the next level in your career.

The Increasing Importance of Stacking

Think of it like a video game, with new skills acting like power-ups that make you stronger and able to achieve more. The more skills you stack together, the more valuable you become to a prospective employer.

Certificates represent real life power-ups in the same way that onscreen icons represent power-ups in a video game. Having more is usually better, but it’s the combinations that make the biggest difference.

Say you’re a young network technician who one day dreams of becoming a Chief Information Officer. Adding Microsoft and Oracle certifications to your existing Cisco certification is a must, but to that you may also want to add some certified expertise large-scale systems administration and perhaps an MBA from a well-known technical university.

That’s stacking in order to climb the information technology career ladder. Dozens more industries are developing similar stacks to guide ambitious learners.

Not All Credentials Are Created Equal

While there are hundreds or even thousands of ways to add skills, employers usually want proof of learned expertise. That’s where verified credentials come in.

More than a PDF, a verified digital credential can only be issued by the organization whose brand it bears. At Parchment, we use Adobe blue-ribbon technology in combination with our platform innovations to provide this functionality to high schools and universities today.

Over time, we expect thousands of trainers, corporations, and associations will use the technology to provide their own forms of verified credentials to learners so that they can be easily shared with prospective employers.

Even Non-Artists Need a Portfolio

Simple, secure sharing is the ultimate promise of digital credentials and a learner’s best ally in climbing the career ladder.

To get there, we’ll first need a central place where entire stacks of verified credentials can be collected and stored. We’ll soon have news about how we’re improving the Parchment Credential Profile to serve this purpose. Think of it as a vault that holds a lifetime of stacked expertise that you’ll carry and build upon throughout your career.

Are you stacking credentials? To what end? Leave a comment to tell us your story. And if you’d like more information about creating your free, personal credential profile, or if you’re an institution looking to offer digital credentials to your constituents, get in touch now. We’d love to hear from you.

Accelerate Your Parchment Knowledge at a Parchment Connect

Today, more than 8,000 institutions, including high schools, colleges and universities, rely on Parchment for the secure and trusted delivery of academic credentials. This network of sending and receiving organizations make up the Parchment Network, the largest network of secondary and postsecondary institutions. To bring high school counselors, college admissions officers and university registrars together to meet their peers, Parchment hosts a series of regional user conferences, each called Parchment Connect.

Parchment Connects are one-day, free events bringing the Parchment secondary and postsecondary network together to learn best practices from peers, discuss emerging trends in academic credentials and network with others within the region. Since 2014, Parchment has hosted nine regional Parchment Connects in Arizona (2), California, Colorado (2), Georgia, Illinois, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

Attendees from past Parchment Connects rave about their experience. “Hands down your conference was the BEST I have ever attended! Your team was professional, knowledgeable and personable. I left excited about your product and what I could do to make the most of it. Additionally, I LOVED how there was a Parchment staff member at each table. I truly felt valued as a client during the conference,” Cherie N., Michigan.

Session topics and conference highlights include:

  • Emerging trends in academic credentials presentation
  • Member panel discussion
  • Best practices breakout sessions
  • Q&A with the Parchment Product and Member Development teams
  • Member networking opportunities
  • Lunch provided
  • Campus Tour (optional)

Six Parchment Connect events remain in 2016. Sign up is available for most events today:

  • Tuesday, October 4: Parchment Connect Kentucky hosted by University of Louisville. To learn more and register today, click here.
  • Tuesday, October 11: Parchment Connect Pennsylvania & Delaware hosted by West Chester University in West Chester. To learn more and register today, click here.
  • Thursday, October 13: Parchment Connect Texas hosted by Frisco Independent School District. To learn more and register today, click here.
  • Wednesday, October 19: Parchment Connect Georgia hosted by Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) in Atlanta. To learn more and register today, click here.
  • Friday, October 21: Parchment Connect South Carolina hosted by Greenville Technical College. To learn more and register today, click here.
  • Wednesday, October 26: Parchment  Connect Indiana will be hosted by Ball State University. Registration is not yet open, however, we will send an email to all Indiana schools once available.

Top Companies and Places That Need Transcripts and How They Use Them

Whether you’re counseling students still in high school or plotting strategy with thirty-somethings on the way to finishing graduate school, transcripts will follow them to the next stage of their academic and professional careers.

You can help them by better understanding how schools, employers, and government agencies use transcripts to make decisions. Below is a closer look at the general consumption habits of these groups, as well as the top receivers of Parchment transcripts in each.

Educational Institutions

Aside from letters of recommendation, the academic transcript is the most important document that crosses an administrator’s desk. Executive Director for Enrollment Management at Eastern Kentucky University Dr. Brett Morris recently shared with us the 10 things every high school counselor should tell their students about transcripts – so ensure your students are hitting these marks. Admissions teams generally use the data within to make determinations about the likely success of prospective university students.

In the last 12 months, these schools have received a combined total of more than 292,000 transcripts through Parchment:

  • Pennsylvania State University
  • University of Maryland  – College Park
  • Arizona State University
  • Michigan State University
  • University of Wisconsin – Madison

While these schools are different in their size and specialties, Parchment data shows that thousands of students are interested in these institutions. Nearly 10,000 are tracking Michigan State, for example.

Employers

While a transcript isn’t a must-have for employment in the same way that it is for gaining entry into a program of higher learning, hundreds of companies use transcripts to better understand how a new hire might perform on the job.

What are they looking for? A 2012 study published in the Chronicle of Higher Education found that choice of major and the workplace relevance of coursework matters more to employers than a high GPA.

“Work experience is the crucial attribute that employers want, even for students who have yet to work full-time,” said Wharton professor Peter Cappelli, commenting on the study in a 2014 article in The Atlantic.

How do transcripts help employers determine experience for a student whose resume is barren? Skilled managers can sometimes infer prior training and relative competency if the job in question involves skills taught in school. High performance in relevant coursework can be particularly telling in that sense.

The following employers are top receivers of Parchment transcripts:

  • Wells Fargo
  • Deloitte
  • Hewlett-Packard
  • Boeing
  • Allstate
  • Cisco

While employers tend to use transcripts to forecast on-the-job performance, government agencies will often request them as a form of verification.

Government Agencies

Trust is crucial when it comes to government work, and as recent history proves it’s too easy to lie on a resume. For example, in 2012, a hedge fund manager revealed that then-Yahoo! chief executive Scott Thompson had never earned the computer science degree he had claimed on his C.V.

Not surprisingly, some agencies and military branches hedge against this type of cheating by asking candidates to supply an official transcript through Parchment. They include:

  • United States Army
  • NASA
  • United States Department of State

Whether it’s to get into a school, find a job, or start a career in government service, transcripts are an increasingly popular tool for evaluating and verifying credentials. Is your institution using Parchment to share data like the others on the list? Leave a comment with your story. And if not, here’s where to learn more.

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