Trusted Learner Network and Student Empowerment Efforts Expanded with Major Grants

As part of a substantial series of grants totaling nearly $12 million, ASU announced a new initiative that will expand access to learners through cultural and technological innovations. And the Trusted Learner Network (TLN) is included in those innovations, as a secure and decentralized approach to recording, curating and sharing learner data on abilities and skills across the learner’s lifespan.

"The TLN is about enabling the shared vision of a student-centered and directed sharing of learning outcomes," said ASU CIO Lev Gonick.

The TLN utilizes blockchain technology to accomplish its goal of leveraging trust relationships as assets to collaboratively engage in network transactions. "The traditional transcript conveys a grade point average and a major," Gonick said. "The TLN aspires to enable learners to own their own digital wallet that includes their identity, artifacts of their learning journey before, during and after their time at college, embedded maps to 21st century skills achieved along the journey, and the ability to share as they see fit. That is a very big deal, and ideal."

"The work advanced through this bold new initiative will empower learners to be the masters of their own learning journey," said Timothy Summers, UTO's Executive Director of Cloud and Advanced Network Engineering Services. "Using blockchain and other innovative technologies, the Trusted Learner Network will enable future learners to track their achievements, accomplishments, and skills throughout their lifetime. This is transformational and puts the learner in the driver seat of their learner lifestory."

With this increased funding, the development of key technological components of the TLN can now reach new heights. These new resources will contribute to the “adoption of a verifiable learner-owned record system that has the potential to replace current transcripts with a less expensive, competency-based credential that lives with the learner themself, rather than with various institutions.”

“Realizing the vision of the TLN to empower learners with verifiable credentials over the course of a lifetime is an ambitious goal that becomes more achievable as innovative organizations and resources are aligned to move the effort forward,” said Michelle Watt, Trusted Learner Network Product Manager.

The TLN joins the ASU University Design Institute (UDI), a stackable credential system (that ties into the TLN) and ASU’s high school programs as targets to improve accessibility for learners everywhere.

"The principle of individual empowerment and a student-centric approach to learning and to education is a shared commitment, one where we are called to take action and broaden the network of stakeholders engaged in bringing about a change of culture," said ASU President Michael Crow.

Read more from him and about the announcement in the official press release.