NCTC, TWU partner with institutions on credentialing platform

Elizabeth F. Abu | Mar 3, 2021

North Central Texas College has partnered with Blockchain Innovation Challenge winner Texas Woman’s University and several other institutions to help create solutions to help underserved learners share their skills with employers.

The American Council on Education (ACE) announced four winners for the first phase of the Blockchain Innovation Challenge, a $900,000 competition funded by the U.S. Department of Education to identify ways that blockchain technology can help disadvantaged learners gain more control over their educational records and more equitably access economic opportunity. The winners are collaborations involving K-12, higher education, technology providers, and public agencies that will pilot new applications of the nascent technology to facilitate more secure, streamlined sharing of learning records and create stronger connections between education and work.

Texas Woman’s University is a phase 1 winner and will work to establish a consortium of institutions in the North Texas region that use a shared credentialing platform to allow students to store and share their educational records with colleges and employers. Partners include North Central Texas College, the University of Texas-Arlington, Texas A&M University-Commerce, Carrolton-Farmers Branch Independent School District, and GreenLight.

The Blockchain Innovation Challenge is part of the Education Blockchain Initiative, which launched in 2020 with funding from the U.S. Department of Education to explore the potential of distributed ledger technology to equitably empower learners to translate their educational outcomes into economic opportunity. ACE is partnering with the Presidents Forum, which managed the application review and selection process, to provide technical assistance to the winners. Independent reviewers and the Education Blockchain Initiative Steering Committee evaluated the proposals using a rigorous, three-round review process that emphasized three main criteria: quality of design, technological approach, and sustainability. 

TWU received $150,000 to establish a minimum viable project this spring that demonstrates the potential to implement their solution. Projects selected to continue to Phase 2 will share an additional $300,000 to fully implement their pilot projects.

“We are excited to be the community college partner on such a great initiative that will put in the hands of our students the ability better track and share their earned credits and experiences,” said NCTC Chancellor Dr. Brent Wallace. “These innovations are the future of higher education credentialing.”