Lehman Graduation Goes High-Tech with New Digital Diploma

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Lehman Graduation Goes High-Tech with New Digital Diploma
Lehman Graduation Goes High-Tech with New Digital Diploma

If you’re one of the 3,670 Lehman students graduating this year, there’s a new option for receiving your diploma.

In addition to traditional paper diplomas, Lehman graduates will also receive digital diplomas supported by blockchain technology.

"We are delighted to pilot the use of digital credentials for our graduating students. Lehman degree earners will now have a portable, secure, and verifiable credential that leverages an important and emerging technology, blockchain," said Peter O. Nwosu, Lehman College provost and senior vice president for academic affairs and student success. "This further reinforces our mission of educating, engaging, and empowering our graduates."

Why a digital diploma? It is a portable and secure record of a Lehman degree that allows students to have greater control over access to their credentials. The diploma will be stored in blockchain—the same technology that underlies digital currencies like Bitcoin. Just like paper diplomas, digital diplomas will be offered at no cost to students.

With the launch of this initiative, Lehman will be the only CUNY institution offering a credential that can be verified with blockchain, an emerging technology that allows for digital information, or transactions, to be stored in a distributed fashion without relying on one central authority for access. These credentials are a unique, time-stamped, and secure record that is cryptographically signed and accessible from any computer.

Lehman already offers students the option of earning digital microcredentials and badges for extracurricular learning and academic success. Over the last 18 months, the college has issued 11 badges or microcredentials to more than 5,000 students using the Credly platform.

"Digital credentials provide students with a secure, portable, verified record of learning achievements," said Jonathan Finkelstein, CEO of Credly. "In offering the ability to publish those achievements to blockchain, Lehman College is taking steps to future-proof the accessibility and ongoing integrity of its digital credentials."

Students will have the choice on whether or not they wish to use the electronic credentials.

"This new approach reinforces that students own’ their credentials as lifetime learners," said Ronald Bergmann, vice president for Information Technology and CIO at Lehman. "The use of blockchain will grow, and if a student chooses, employers, colleges and universities will have a fast, secure method of verifying the degree. This also reduces the need for former students to return to the college to request a certification of their degree."

Lehman's digital diplomas can be verified using Blockcerts, an open, collaboratively-developed standard originally developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. With Blockcerts, academic credentials, professional certifications, and other records become secure, verifiable, and shareable from any open-standards based credentialing platform.