Long-term Storage of Forgery-Proof Certificates in User Centric Environments

Although we live in a digital world, students who sucessfully leave the university still get a printed diploma or an academic certificate on shiny, high-quality paper. In order to use these certificates in a meaningful way, they have to be digitized by means of a scanner. The scanned diplomas must then be attached to job applications or enrollments for training courses – all processes which are nowadays entirely happening on the internet.

Hence the need for genuine digital diplomas, which of course should be more tamper-proof than their paper-based counterparts. In the pre-study “Long-term Storage of Forgery-Proof Certificates in Use Centric Environments” this topic will be adressed. In particular, approaches will be developed and discussed, that allow users to manage their digital diplomas in e-portfolio systems for a very long time – ideally during their entire life.

The kick-off meeting of the project took place this week, and it will be finished by December 2013. Participating institutions are the University of Geneva, the University of Lausanne and SWITCH.

Here’s an excerpt of the project application:

The e-portfolio tool allows learners to store various digital artifacts for presentations (CV, etc.) and/or reflections purposes (see UNIGE.10 – WP 9). The nature of these artifacts can take various forms: standard documents (word, pdf), multimedia (video, audio), wiki docs, etc. However, there are some artifacts that are difficult to implement in the current type of e-portfolios. Among them, (digital) certificates and diplomas delivered by higher educational institutions. These difficulties come both from the technical and organizational complexity stemming from the way digital certificates are implemented. In order to implement a workable solution at the Swiss level, a preliminary study on the subject is first needed.

Objective: Understand how forgery-proof academic certificates, signed and issued by universities, can be preserved by individuals in their pre- ferred personal environments. In particular, e-portfolio system should be able to manage and reference those certificates.

Work: Describe tools and organizational structures necessary to issue and manage signed digital certificates. Identify potential issues.