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Faculty of Engineering hosts panel discussion on digital credentialsApril 5, 2019

On April 10, the Faculty of Engineering will welcome Globe and Mail columnist Jennifer Lewington to moderate a panel discussion on how digital technology – like the blockchain and digital badges – is transforming postsecondary education.

The event, part of the faculty’s Café X public conversation series, will explore how microcredentials, stackable courses and digital degrees could offer new opportunities to both students and educators.

The panel will include:

  • Kim Hamilton Duffy, CTO of Learning Machine
  • Melissa Pool, McMaster’s registrar
  • David Porter, CEO of eCampusOntario, and
  • Ishwar K. Puri, dean of McMaster’s Faculty of Engineering

Blockchain technology – the digital infrastructure used by cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin – allows students to present their academic credentials digitally, in a way that is both secure and verifiable. Other digital technologies, such as badging, have the potential to showcase specific skills and learning outcomes.

“McMaster students come from more than 130 countries around the world,” says Pool. “Similarly, our alumni network spans the globe. It is incumbent upon the REgistrar’s Office to explore portable credentials that will allow our students to be able to take their credentials with them wherever they go.”

The Café X panel is the latest event on campus to explore the question of digital technologies. Earlier this year, blockchain technology was the focus of the 40th McMaster World Congress, a student business conference held by the DeGroote School of Business.

The Faculty of Engineering is currently running a pilot program with McMaster’s Office of the Registrar to offer credentials using blockchain for its MacChangers program this April. As well, it will be offering Canada’s first digital degrees to engineering students this June.

“Digital credentials are the wave of the future,” says Puri. “Why? Because we believe in the self-sovereign identity of data: that data should belong to the student.

“It is important for us to invest in and to implement digital credentials using platforms such as blockchain because we are innovators. Just as society is innovating and business is innovating, higher education must also innovate.”

To register for the event, go to the Faculty of Engineering’s registration page.