Current Advancements and Future Prospect of Alternative Digital Credentials (ADCs) in and for Technology-Disrupted World

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review



Throughout history, the world has been disrupted extensively by multiple factors such as economic forces, political ideologies, societal norms, environmental impacts and technology-related challenges and uncertainties. Technology advancements’ impact on transforming lives, businesses and the global economy has received considerable attention as it has continued to disrupt all aspects of life without any pause.
In today’s technology-disrupted competitive world, developing and managing successful and sustainable businesses has captured considerable attention. Leaders are continuously searching for creative developments and solutions to support all sorts of organisations and their stakeholders to thrive and be rest assured that their ‘performance’, ‘productivity’ and ‘success’ is not compromised. ‘Tertiary Education’ is no exception.

Within tertiary education, one of the most recent technology-advanced and promising developments that seem to be playing a vital role in the validation of individuals’ prior practical learnings are Alternative Digital Credentials (ADCs). While traditional credentials will maintain their position within societies and continue to be the primary credential in tertiary education; however, it will not be enough to demonstrate mastery of individually identifiable competencies. Compared to traditional credentials, ADCs serve and support the prospective employees and workforce by ensuring the connection between ‘verified competencies’ and ‘workforce requirements’.

In recent years, ADCs have received increased interests. According to Weber’s 2015 article published in the Wall Street Journal, “Colleges and universities are waking up to the power of digital credentials – not just for road markers, but as ways to create new roads. We’re starting to see digital credentials as building blocks of digital pathways that will shape the future of higher education”.

In general, ADCs emergence has and is revolutionising tertiary education in various ways by enabling the education providers to transform the ways skills and competencies are assessed, validated and recognised. According to Hickey (2017, p.18), ADCs “can contain specific claims of competency and web-based evidence of those competencies. They can be curated, annotated, and distributed over digital networks under the earner’s control”. Furthermore, DeMillo (2017) states, “For all practical purposes, a college transcript [traditional credential] is static, a standalone document that fails most of the market-facing tests we have come to expect in the age of the Internet. The transcript is meant to be locked in a secure location and shown only to graduate school admissions officers or HR hiring managers that are seeking to verify attendance, grades, or degrees. A transcript cannot capture what a student has learned or achieved outside of the classroom, and it certainly cannot communicate the aspirations that may signal long-term career success. A student cannot sign an email with a transcript, so it is not tied in any useful way to digital identity. Employers cannot validate important skills nor assess the relevance of a student project simply by looking at a transcript”.

Overall, ADCs are and will be receiving significant worldwide attention by various sectors’ leaders and decision-makers. For this purpose, it is essential to gain an in-depth systematic understanding of ADCs’ current state, future prospects, and solutions to develop a more prosperous and sustainable business environment. This objective can support tertiary education providers, and industry partners benefit enormously by aligning their activities and goals and assuring tertiary education graduates and prospective employees that their competencies and skills are verified with workforce requirements.


- This chapter initially describes and then compares and contrasts the current and future state of the global tertiary education;
- Further, it examines the importance of tertiary education for the economy, society and individuals;
- Moreover, this chapter provides an overview of the unprecedented caused technology-disruption within tertiary education and its impact on the evaluation of skills and competencies;
- Then, it discusses the current and future state of traditional credentials and ADCs in greater detail
- In addition, it provides an in-depth overview of their similarities, differences, challenges and potential opportunities for graduates, tertiary education providers and industry partners;
- And finally, this chapter concludes the discussion with mapping ADCs’ prospects and solutions for tertiary education’s current and future decision-makers.

DeMillo, R. (2017). This Will Go on Your Permanent Record! How Blockchains Can Transform Colleges in a Networked World. Retrieved from The evollution - A Destiny Solutions Illumination:
Hickey, D. (2017). How Open E-Credentials Will Transform Higher Education. Retrieved from The Chronicle of Higher Education:
Weber, L. (2015). Online Skills Are Hot, But Will They Land You a Job? Retrieved from The Wall Street Journal:
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of research on Innovations in the Use of Alternative Digital Credentials
EditorsDaniel Piedra
Place of PublicationHamilton, Canada
PublisherIGI Global Publishing
ISBN (Electronic)9781799876991
ISBN (Print)9781799876977, 1799876977
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


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