SWITCH Identity Blog

The Identity Blog puts the spotlight on identity management, digital identities, identifiers, attributes, authentication and access management.

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.

Using the e-Portfolio as Base for a Long-Term Digital Identity

e-portfolios have already gained interest as tools for learning during the studies or to conduct portfolio-based assessments. It seems that the third main application of e-portfolios as presentation tool is less developed so far.

This topic will now be adressed In the project Using the e-Portfolio as Base for a Long-Term Digital Identity funded in the context of the CRUS cooperation and innovation project Learning Infrastructure. The Unversities of Geneva and Lausanne together with SWITCH are going to identify

  • the most important sources of artifacts during the studies
  • the short-term and long-term usage of the artifacts
  • a concept for structuring and presentation of artifacts in the face of long-term usage

The kick-off meeting of the project was last week, and it will be finished by December 2013.

Here is an excerpt of the project description:

Whether reflexive, evaluative or showcasing the individual competencies, e- Portfolio systems store a considerable amount of data related to one’s identity. Research done in a previous the AAA-PLE.UNIGE.9 project made clear that tools integration, long-term preservation and availability of the e-Portfolio are critical factors for its adoption on the long-term. Depending on institutional implementation and scenario of use, e-Portfolio data can take multiple forms and formats. Currently, the typical e-Portfolio data structure does not provide suitable tools for the long-term management of personal digital information.

Objective : Provide the universities with a sound basis for the elabora- tion of their strategy for long-term preservation of e-Portfolio data. Work : Definition of a structural model to support the lifelong exploitation and management of e-Portfolio heterogeneous data and processes.

Visualising and presenting the e-Portfolio content in a lifelong perspective is a challenge in itself. It requires long-term dedication and systematics from the user. The AAA-PLE.UNIGE.9 project provided a first step in making possible the selective importation of reference skils lists into the e-Portfolio. In addition, support to further learning and showcasing one’s skills and knowledge to the professional world should also be facilitated on a lifelong basis.

Objective : Provide the individual learner with a data visualisation system to enhance quality of learning, as well as knowledge and skills awareness. Work : Specification of a data, artifact and processes aggregation system.