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Digital technologies are creating new opportunities and challenges for skills development and recognition globally. Changes in modalities of access and learning methods, massification and internationalization, are taking place at an increasingly rapid pace. In this context, significant attention is being given to the impact of technology on jobs and demand for skills, and the risks of competition between robots and humans. Far less has been said about the opportunities that advances in digital technology will create for transforming education and training systems, including building new credentialing methods and systems that can capture, recognize and validate a broader range of learning outcomes in the era of lifelong learning.
There is increasing evidence that the use of digital technologies in education and training is supporting the development of learning materials and close monitoring of teaching and learning processes, changing pedagogies and forms of assessment and certification. Digital learning records and open data sources are complementing traditional qualifications repositories, while challenging the conventional models of credential evaluation, as both for-profit and non-profit verification agencies come to the fore as important players. These changes trigger many questions about the trustworthiness of data, interoperability of systems, and most critically the ubiquity of the standards – both learning standards and technology standards – that govern the new and dynamic landscape.
This report considers these changes and offers a critical assessment of digital credentialing based on a review of the recent literature and a series of interviews with key actors. It argues for increased synergies between these developments and the quality assurance systems that have become closely associated with the implementation of a new generation of qualifications frameworks internationally. It offers an outline of the ecosystem of these digital credentials and show the convergence and divergence with traditional qualifications frameworks. We propose that world reference levels – now in development – are key to expediting recognition of skills and qualifications across borders.