education's digital future

academic credentials in the digital era

Credentialing and accreditation are crucial features of every education system. Schools certify both students and knowledge: The high school diploma and the college degree are widely recognized standards by which graduates are sorted into jobs and other social positions; named and elaborated academic programs are how societies formally ensure that certain skills and knowledge are reproduced over time.

The credentialing system that currently obtains in the US developed as a series of independently negotiated compacts between particular schools sharing similar prestige and status. They were, essentially courtesy agreements that are now being challenged by seismic changes to the political economy of US higher education. How should credentialing happen in education’s digital future?


This forum assembled four experts to specify key problems in the current college credentialing system and offer positive new directions for credentialing going forward. Participants were Richard Arum, Professor of Sociology and Education at NYU and lead author of Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses (Chicago 2011); Therese Cannon, former Executive Vice President of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges; Emily Goligoski of Mozilla Open Badges; and John Katzman, founder of Princeton Review, 2U, and Noodle Education.