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CNM to Become First Community College to Issue Student-Owned Digital Diplomas

Nov. 15, 2017 -- CNM will start putting more control, convenience and power in the palm of students’ hands when it debuts digital higher education diplomas and transcripts for select students on Dec. 15 through the same “blockchain” technology that spawned Bitcoin. CNM will be the first community college in the country to issue student-owned digital credentials through blockchain.

Nov 15, 2017

By issuing digital credentials that can be securely and easily accessed on a smartphone or the internet, select CNM graduates will be able to independently manage their own, hard-earned education records and securely share them with employers, other schools and social media such as LinkedIn for the rest of their lives. And a student who has digital credentials on the blockchain will never have to worry about their alma mater going extinct, along with the documentation of the certificates, degrees, transcripts and skills they earned along the way.

Years after graduating, college grads who received paper credentials are often forced to reacquire their transcripts or other documentation from their school each time they make a career move or try to enroll at a new school, for a fee. Through the blockchain, which delivers a permanent record and tamper-proof security, CNM will begin providing select students with easily verifiable and secure higher education credentials that will always be at their fingertips, ready to be shared instantly with potential employers, other schools or anybody else the graduate designates, free of charge and without the need for an intermediary. Beyond grades and official diplomas, the digital record can also include detailed descriptions of skills learned.

Employers or schools can verify the legitimacy of the tamper-proof credentials immediately through a link that accesses the blockchain, without needing to contact a college registrar’s office.

“We are very excited to begin adopting this technology that’s going to provide more value, independence and convenience to our students throughout their lives,” CNM President Katharine Winograd said. “Students put forth tremendous effort to earn their higher education credentials and we’re going to start empowering more students with stewardship over their own educational achievements.”

CNM Ingenuity, the enterprise arm of CNM that offers accelerated programs in high-demand fields, will be the first area of the college to begin issuing the blockchain credentials. Twenty-one students graduating on Dec. 15 from CNM Ingenuity’s Deep Dive Coding bootcamps will receive the first digital credentials, which will include their diplomas and transcripts of the coding languages they learned. These will be the first student-owned digital credentials awarded by a community college.

Several more CNM Ingenuity programs will begin issuing digital credentials in the spring. CNM plans to continue expanding the digital credentials in phases across all programs at the college. The first pilot for a CNM college-credit program will be the Retail Management certificate program in summer 2018.

CNM will continue to issue paper diplomas and transcripts, but the digital credentials will give students new options.

CNM is also in the process of building a blockchain technology platform that will offer access to other colleges, universities and K-12 school systems in New Mexico that want to begin issuing digital diplomas to their graduates. 

Learn more about the "Blockchain Revolution and Higher Education" in the higher education IT publication Educause.