Technology Research

How to Answer the Trust Question: Five EdTech Vendors to Watch

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All of us have been in a situation where we have had to validate our identity or provide proof of our abilities. You may have recently used your driver’s license to go through airport security or rent a car, for example. While these activities may seem simple, they depend on a complex relationship of trust between the issuer and reviewer of your driver’s license. In a sense, the driver’s license represents an official certification of who you are and what you can do.

You can find examples of this trust relationship in higher education as well. Most notably, they center around often-discussed topics such as credentials, blockchain, and identity access management.

At its core, the “trust question” in higher education requires three key components to be successful:

  1. Validity: Enable all parties (issuer, reviewer, and you) to accept that the information is authentic.
  2. Security: Enable all parties to accept that there have been no unauthorized changes to the information.
  3. Portability: Enable all parties to access and show information in different environments.

Several edtech vendors have stepped in to address the trust question. While they approach it in different ways, each enables stakeholders to obtain, develop, and share credentials or allows institutions to ensure that users of applications across an ecosystem have the right access to information, depending on their roles.

We dedicate today's Wake-Up Call to helping institutions sort through the marketplace for these solutions. We highlight a handful of companies we believe are the most influential performers in two key areas: credentialing solutions and solutions that provide access across a technology ecosystem.


Often, discussions about credentialing solutions focus on the technology behind them or their relevance for institutions who want to prepare students for the job market. We highlighted the credentialing solutions below because of how they address the three critical components of the trust framework:

  • Credly: Founded in 2012, Credly has become one of the most well-known digital credentialing platforms. But the actual benefit of the Credly platform is not in how it allows users to create and share credentials; it is in how it works to establish trust between employers and institutions. Specifically, its 2018 acquisition of Acclaim Badging—a credentialing platform for businesses—gives Credly unique insight into employer needs. It also helps institutions overcome a significant challenge in improving the employability of their students by linking these needs with skills students have obtained in college.
  • EdRec: A recent winner of the U.S. Department of Education’s Reimagining Higher Education Ecosystem Challenge, EdRec seeks to create a permanent, lifelong, and transferable set of educational credentials that students can own throughout their learning journey. Founded by a collaboration of BrightHive, Concentric Sky, and DXtera Institute, EdRec stands out to us for how it extends current efforts around open standards to ensure that stakeholders can own trusted credentials regardless of the source of data.
  • Salesforce: Although it may seem unusual to consider Salesforce among credentialing solutions, its recent work with Arizona State University and Foothill Community College indicates otherwise. This work stands out to us for how it creates a blockchain-powered ecosystem in which credentials and other student data exist. Within this ecosystem, Salesforce has taken a unique position as a hub through which stakeholders can trustfully access credentials and student data and creating them for storage in the ecosystem.

Access Across the Ecosystem

Identity and access management is growing in importance in higher education, especially as institutions struggle to grant, change, and control the access rights of a variety of stakeholders over disparate systems. The following companies in this area stand out for how they help institutions establish and preserve trust in access to information.

  • Okta (Federated Identity): Founded in 2009, Okta is a more recent entry into the cloud-based identity management solution segment. Called “Identity as a Service” (IDaaS), this segment allows institutional leaders trust that the right users have the appropriate access to information per their rights and restrictions. Okta stands out to us for its ability to enable this trust and control across heterogeneous ecosystems, which comprise on-premise and cloud-based solutions.
  • Microsoft (Azure Active Directory): A long-time presence in the world of identity management, Microsoft has added to an IDaaS, Azure Active Directory, to its product suite. Like Okta’s product, it enables trust and control across an ecosystem. To us, however, Active Directory stands out because of its superior ability to allow institutional leaders to provide this trust and authority across entire groups, and for its close integration with the Microsoft’s popular Office 365.

The Bottom Line

No matter what technology solution you choose, answering the trust question is about much more than technology. There are additional concerns—around policies, rules, and standards—that institutions should resolve first before focusing on which technology product best fits their needs. Searching for a specific technology solution without first taking this initial step can prevent institutions from answering the trust question for themselves.


The Role That Social, Mobile, and Digital Marketing Should Play in Your Recruiting Plan

Thursday, January 24, 2019 at 2PM EDT/1PM CDT

A decade ago, the enrollment management community had high hopes for social media. Facebook was an emerging communication channel, and along with MySpace, was strongly competing for members. Together, they were widely regarded as the potential magic bullet to reaching and recruiting traditional-aged prospective students.

Since then, Facebook and Twitter have become household names among all age groups. But how much emphasis and budget should you put towards social media or does it work best when used as one of several key supporting elements of a balanced digital channel strategy? Data from Eduventures® Student Sentiment Survey™, featured in this webinar, identifies important opportunities for creating an effective digital strategy that includes social media.

Join us on a webinar to learn:

  • The groups that are most responsive to social media as a means for engaging with higher ed institutions
  • Why social needs to be a portion of a larger digital strategy
  • How you can leverage mobile-based digital marketing to enhance your reach
  • Practical application strategies you can employ today
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