A big idea whose time has come?

What we do

Today, almost everything we do, we do on the web. We book our plane tickets online, we do our banking on line and we keep our important information in the cloud. Our transactions and data are there when we need them.

For some reason, however, we do not do that with some of the most important documents in our lives: Our diplomas. We’re still dealing with them the way we have been doing for decades, no, for centuries. On paper.

Paper diplomas are nice and tangible enough, but they are not practical. They get lost, misplaced, or stolen. They can be torn, burned or eaten by your dog. And even if that doesn’t happen, there’s another problem. They could be fake. Although diplomas can be quite elaborate to prevent forgeries, it’s not easy to establish whether you’re dealing with a valid document. Who tells a piece of paper with nicely printed decorations, impressive seal and pretty handwriting from a real one?

So, once again, paper is no longer practical.  Not for you, nor for the schools, universities or employers that need your diploma in order to enroll you or give you a job.

The good news is that there are organizations that register diplomas centrally, in a database.  They are called educational data depositories. Such depositories store all the educational data that have to do with you. Up till now, digital data were merely the source to have your diploma printed, but paper diplomas are on the way out. Now, digital data take the place of the old fashioned and cumbersome paper diploma. Way to go! You can always access them online, - like your plane tickets, bank account and the pictures from last year’s skiing trip. And so can the schools, universities and employers that need to check your educational data. Most importantly: Since the data come directly from the schools and universities that issue them, forgeries are no longer an issue.

The challenge now is: So far, data depositories manage educational data in a national setting. How to retrieve your data when you were born in Beijing, got educated in Boston, and are having an interview in Zürich: Good luck!

Wouldn’t it be great if educational data depositories would work together to make your data globally accessible? 

That is what the Groningen Declaration is all about:  To develop best practices and globally accepted standards for the secure, citizen centered consultation of educational data – allowing globally mobile citizens to share their authentic educational data with whomever they want, whenever they want, wherever.