ASU Pocket: A digital wallet to capture learners’ real-time achievements
Written by Timothy Summers, executive director at ASU Enterprise Technology
For today’s lifelong learners, the education journey is one with many opportunities to gain new knowledge, skills and experiences – whether it’s the traditional two and four-year degree, online certifications, the list goes on.
These credentials – qualifications and achievements that showcase proficiency in skill or knowledge – come in many forms, and the market is growing. In fact, the alternative credentials market for higher education saw a 16.3% year-over-year growth in 2021 and is projected to increase by $1.4 billion between 2020 and 2025.
As credentials – from traditional degrees to micro-credentials, digital badges, online certificates and more – emerge and gain popularity, there is a need to capture both formal and informal learning experiences as part of students’ overall lifelong learning journey. To do so, institutions and employers must consider a pathway forward that recognizes a learner’s many achievements, clearly communicates them, and gives the learner agency over these credentials.
Enter ASU Pocket, a digital wallet that helps people keep track of their educational credentials. ASU Pocket captures students’ traditional and non-traditional educational credentials, which are now, with the emergence of verifiable credentials, more portable than ever before. This gives students the autonomy to securely own, control and share their holistic evidence of learning with employers.
A digital wallet, like ASU Pocket, holds verifiable credentials – which are digital representations of real-world credentials like government-issued IDs, passports, driver’s licenses, birth certificates, educational degrees, professional certifications, awards, and so on. In the past, these credentials have been stored in physical form, making them susceptible to fraud and loss. However, with advances in technology, these credentials can be stored electronically, using cryptographic techniques to ensure their authenticity. This makes it possible to verify the credential without revealing sensitive information, such as a social security number.
As a result, verifiable credentials are becoming increasingly important in the digital world. They have the potential to:
- Transform the way we demonstrate our identity and qualifications digitally, making it easier to verify someone’s credentials.
- Improve security by making it harder for malicious actors to forge credentials.
- Streamline many processes that currently rely on manual verification, such as background checks for employment.
Verifiable credentials also provide a way to verify that an individual has skills, qualifications or experience that they claim to have. In a world where information is increasingly distributed online, verifiable credentials offer a secure and reliable way to confirm your identity and qualifications. And, as our world continues to become more connected, verifiable credentials will become even more valuable for ensuring security and trustworthiness.
Here’s how ASU Pocket uses verifiable credentials:
Let’s take for example Hannah, a persona of a student pursuing a four-year degree at ASU. After creating her digital wallet with ASU Pocket, Hannah established her first verified credential in the form of her digital identity. Here’s how Hannah creates her wallet:
- Using the app store, Hannah will install the ASU Pocket app on her personal device
- Hannah will use her established institutional identity (in this example, her ASUrite) to connect her wallet to ASU.
- After verifying her institutional identity, Hannah receives a digital identity inside her wallet, allowing her to receive verified credentials earned from that institution.
- Hannah can continue to connect her digital wallet to various identities across institutions and employers to gather verified credentials from across experiences in work and learn.
Setting up her wallet is a crucial step as it will provide the foundation for Hannah to receive – and share – verified credentials across institutions and employers.
At ASU Pocket, we also view verifiable credentials as an important tool for social impact. They provide a way for people to document their skills and accomplishments, which can be used to gain new opportunities. For example, someone with a verifiable skill credential for customer service might be able to use it to get a job in a call center. Likewise, someone with a verifiable credential for computer programming might be able to use it to get a job as a software developer.
In both cases, the verifiable credential provides a way for the individual to demonstrate their skills and qualifications gained through or outside of traditional learning pathways. This is especially impactful for marginalized groups who may have difficulty obtaining traditional credentials, such as degrees or certifications.
Because there are various pathways to learning and because our learning doesn’t stop when we’re no longer in school, we must challenge ourselves not to separate this idea of "work and learn" as distinct times in life. Instead, we are constantly learning and working together.
With verifiable credentials conveniently stored in a digital wallet like ASU Pocket, we aim to increase learner agency to showcase their skills and abilities across work and learning.