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Could a Digital Credentials Clearinghouse Be in the Offing?

The Professional Examination Service is a company that's in the business of issuing and maintaining strong, secure digital credentials for degree holders and certified professionals of all kinds. On July 9, 2013, the company announced its ProExam Vault for Digital Credentials, a web-based environment designed to simplify the creation and management of secure digital credentials. It's designed to make it easy for credential issuers to provide digital badges for credential holders, and to let credentialed individuals store, share, and combine credentials.

ProExamService is the organization behind ProExam Vault, a Web-based system for issuing, managing, viewing, and sharing credentials of all kinds, including IT certifications

ProExam Vault is intended to permit professional associations, trade and technical schools, and colleges and universities, create and issues strong and secure digital credentials called "electronic badges." In fact, ProExam Vault adheres to the Mozilla Open Badge Infrastructure standard, which means that digital credentials issues may be displayed as "open badges" designed to recognize and verify all kinds of learning in the online world.

Mozilla Open Badges is already out there, primarily for post-secondary education stuff.

Here's how digital badges basically work: credential issuers control the requirements that "earners" (those who seek credentials) must meet to earn a credential. Data involved in a digital badge also includes a credential's description and a graphical image, that serves as an actual visual "badge." Earners can store badges, and decide how and where to share their badges, perhaps through social networks, on employment or other websites and services, or embedded in digital documents such as resumes or online job applications. Prospective employers can verify a digital badge in real time, simply by clicking the badge to produce a secure validation page that includes information about the earner and the issuer of the related credential.

Folks, this is an idea whose time has come for credentials of all kinds. It's not completely clear how much a credential issuer must pay to participate in the ProExam Vault program. I don't see any adoptions in the IT certification community just yet. But I have to imagine that the economics of participation will play heavily in whether or not what seems like a great idea in theory also turns into a widespread practice. If Professional Examination Services isn't too greedy, they may be able to create a real online phenomenon, and create a much-needed clearinghouse for digital certification (and other kinds) of credentials.