Finally! Indian minister for HRD, Kapil Sibal, has announced the start of an initiative, to be completed in 2011, of pushing all academic qualifications from school to Post Graduation, to a secure, authenticated online depository. The ostensible aims are to provide electronic access, reduce the forgery of certificates and link schools and academic institutions directly to the depository. This is indeed a welcome step from many perspectives.
The initiative will spawn an entirely new set of opportunities. For example, IMS Learning Profile and IMS Reusable Competency Definitions standards could be effectively used to model the data in a standard way. Other enhancements could include things like a Learning Styles Inventory, eportfolio summaries (projects, internships data) and extending it onwards, employment information. Obviously, securely used and properly modeled, this could also provide an amazing amount of research information that will help us improve our education system as well.
This could simplify things drastically. Whether it is transferring from a school to another, seeking internship or project work, applying for a job or any other process requiring verification of these records (like maybe a visa application), a secure, signed certificate with these credentials would remove the hassle and authenticity issues at one go.
Obviously, privacy and authenticity would still be major concerns. I would not want this metadata to be turned over to a telemarketing agency, nor would I want to hire someone whose credentials are not proven (in fact there are companies offering just these verification services).
This means that an effective digital rights management programme, a registrar and an ombudsman would definitely need to be incorporated.
Information could be personally stored and updated on student/employee ID cards as well that could connect up to the depository and be use to “swipe” information into a form when required.
This is certainly a good initiative in a country of this scale. I would like to see some more thinking around the possible benefits and linkages that this depository could provide, maybe also track teachers and their ongoing certifications/publications as well. Kudos!