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Parchment Roadmap: A Digital Platform for Turning Credentials into Opportunities

To our members, employees and partners,

At Parchment, our mission is to help turn credentials into opportunities. The Parchment platform transforms credentials from paper to digital, and in doing so enables credential issuers to innovate the form and function of their credentials at a time of great need in our knowledge-based economy and society.

We use the term “platform” thoughtfully, reflecting how our technology connects the different stakeholders who participate in a credentialing ecosystem: issuers, receivers, and most importantly, learners. The term also reflects the ability of our technology to enable learners to access, collect and put to work the academic and professional credentials they earn throughout their lives.

Initially we developed the Parchment platform to support academic transcripts. The Parchment transcript network enables millions of enrollments at member high schools and universities to request, collect and deliver their digital transcripts to pursue admissions, licensing and employment opportunities. In 2016 we transacted more than 8.7 million credentials, representing a 40% annual growth rate (CAGR) since 2011.

The Next Step in Realizing Our Vision

Today, I’m proud to announce that we are taking another step towards realizing our vision by adding digital certificates and diplomas to the Parchment platform. We are bringing these academic credential types into the digital, portable and social world seamlessly, without introducing new terminology and concepts. We are excited that Parchment is now the first true multi-credential digital platform.

The addition of these new credential types is just part of the story. The launch of our new Parchment Award services for diplomas and certificates also puts the learner credential profile front and center. The credential profile allows students and alumni to manage and share their credentials securely, collected from across the Parchment network.

Put simply, our expanded digital credentialing platform enables learners and institutions to collect, verify and share any digital credential. It’s a milestone for us, so allow me to share more and put it into the context of our broader roadmap.

Three Enablers for Turning Credentials Into Opportunities

In a recent blog post, Parchment CEO Matthew Pittinsky described three key technology enablers that help make Parchment’s mission a reality. Our roadmap is laser focused on delivering those enablers for our institutional members and their individual learners:

  • First, credentials must be issued digitally with machine-readable data. Only digital credentials with data are truly actionable.
  • Second, institutions must leverage the inherent benefits of digitization to innovate the form and function of their credentials.
  • Third, digital credentials should be truly portable, collected and controlled by the learner through a unified interface across the places where they learned.

As a company, these are the north stars that guide our product development, and it is our privilege to bring them to life. The Parchment credential management platform is how we get there, serving three distinct stakeholders: the learner, the issuer and the receiver. Much like a three-legged stool, each stakeholder group has a role to play.  

What Learners Need and What We Will Provide

Our goal for learners is to provide a secure, unified experience for requesting, collecting, delivering and displaying their official academic credentials. We are investing in Parchment.com so that learners may create a comprehensive online portfolio of their verified credentials in one secure place. To that end, over the past 18 months we have:

  • Enhanced Parchment.com to include a credential profile, a personal vault of digital credentials, that supports not just digital transcripts but also digital diplomas and certificates. The credential profile expands on the credential request and delivery features that are the core of Parchment’s consumer services.
  • Developed new integrations to make it easy for learners to promote and verify their credentials on social media sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
  • Improved the core tools that allow learners to order their credentials through a modern, mobile-optimized experience, and to track their requests, both electronic deliveries and those we print and mail.

Looking forward, our roadmap for the learner focuses on refining and extending the credential profile, especially with digital diplomas and certificates. As today’s mobile learners accumulate educational credentials from multiple sources, Parchment’s credential profile will be there for learners to collect, share and analyze their credentials across all those institutions.

Our institutional members using the Parchment 7 platform (all high schools and some higher education institutions) already have this entire experience available to their students and alumni. Our Parchment 6 members (most of our higher education institutions) will be able to offer this experience to their learners by the end of 2017.

What Issuers Need and What We Will Provide

Job number one for issuers is to securely automate the request and delivery of their credentials. Yes, our goal for issuers begins with  the movement of paper-based credential request and fulfillment to digital.  From there, we want digital credentials to support key innovations in the content and format of credentials, better serving learners in admissions and employment. Finally, we are excited to support our members as they experiment with new formats and credential types (e.g., competency and experiential transcripts). To that end, we have:

  • Transformed our transcript-centric credentials services into a true multi-credential management platform that allows members to issue all types of digital credentials. We now support many different kinds of transcripts (academic, co-curricular, experiential and competency based), as well as unique features for digital diplomas and certificates.
  • Created security mechanisms for embedding metadata in all issued credentials to make sure they’re 100 percent verifiable using Adobe blue-ribbon technology.  
  • Allowed delivery of credentials in standards-based, machine-readable data to increase operating efficiencies and allow receivers of credentials to act on them much faster.

Looking forward, our roadmap for the issuer focuses on a variety of initiatives. We will:

  • Support comprehensive student record initiatives by enabling many newer/standardized formats of experiential and competency-based credentials. These innovative credentials will allow attributes that make them much more useful for employers and allow learners to stack them to promote lifelong learning.
  • Expand Parchment 6 automation options to members using the Parchment 7 platform as we bring the best of both of these platforms to all of our members. We’ll also further enhance these automations to get machine readable data in standard formats such as PESC XML.
  • Support for all 36 of the Liaison International Common Application Services (CAS) including NursingCAS, PharmCAS, et. al.
  • Enable registrars working with continuing education, single schools, multiple schools and school districts to better customize and personalize their workflows.
  • Deliver easy ways for Parchment Send members to accept requests from third parties such as background-check companies and employers. (We already allow Parchment Receive members to request credentials from learners of Parchment 7 members.)
  • Lead the charge to enable vendor-independent electronic data exchange of credentials by supporting the development and adoption of open standards such as PESC EdExchange.
  • Expand the scale and scope of our analytics exponentially to include how credentials are being used, trends in where credentials are being delivered, which social media are being used to share credentials and the reach/impact of such social sharing.

What Parchment Award Will Provide for Issuers

Parchment Award enhances the Parchment credentials management platform and allows organizations to have a new workflow of “Award/Claim/Share.” This adds significant new capabilities to our platform, especially allowing us to mass issue certificates and diplomas to learners. They can then claim the credentials on Parchment.com and share them on social media such as facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to showcase their achievements.

What Receivers Need and What We Will Provide

Our goal for receivers is to allow admissions offices and employers to benefit from the efficiencies and insights that digital credentials provide. We want receivers spending time on candidate evaluation, not credential collection and processing. To that end, we have:

  • Provided a unified inbox to collect all incoming documents, whether sent using Parchment’s network or other services such as Naviance, SPEEDE, CHESSIC and BridgeU.
  • Enabled the electronic delivery and seamless processing of digital credentials as data, not just as a PDF image, eliminating paper documents, increasing operational efficiency and decreasing time to admissions or hiring decisions.

Looking forward, our roadmap for receivers will address a number of key issues. We will:

  • Expand the unified inbox with additional partners so that receivers can benefit from seamless electronic inbound processing regardless of the technology used by a credential issuer.
  • Improve integration with enrollment technologies and Enterprise Content Management (ECM) Systems such as Banner Document Management System (BDMS), Slate and Hyland OnBase.
  • Lead the charge for a vendor-independent exchange by supporting development of open standards, such as the PESC EdExchange.
  • Provide the ability to mine the data, enabling admissions offices to promote institutional brand and facilitate recruitment.

The Journey Continues

It’s a great responsibility to be the technology platform that helps facilitate such important transitions in the lives of learners, from high school to college and beyond. While we have come a long way from the days when we only digitized high school transcripts for college admissions, our roadmap makes it clear we have still have a long way to go.

We are adding support for secure, digital diplomas and certificates today, and in future releases, we will continue to expand to all types of academic credentials (and eventually professional credentials). The Parchment credential management platform connects the dots between learners, issuers, and receivers as they progress through every stage of education and career.  

Which brings us back to our mission. In it we say Parchment helps turn credentials into opportunities. We include this qualifier because technology is not the universal solvent for education. It is the network of school and university members, and their learners, that turn credentials into opportunities. We are proud and humbled of the role we play in this.

In the future, we’ll be publishing a series of blog posts that explain the technical underpinnings of the platform and how you can get started using it.

Rajeev Arora, Sr. Vice President of Product Parchment Inc.