W3C Verifiable Credentials Education Task Force 2022 Planning

Kerri Lemoie, PhD
3 min readJan 18, 2022

At the W3C VC-EDU Task Force we’ve been planning meeting agendas and topics for 2022. We’ve been hard at work writing use cases, helping education standards organizations understand and align with VCs, and we’ve been heading towards a model recommendation doc for the community. In 2022 we plan on building upon this and are ramping up for an exciting year of pilots.

To get things in order, we compiled a list of topics and descriptions in this sheet and have set up a ranking system. This ranking system is open until January 19 at 11:59pm ET and anyone is invited to weigh in. The co-chairs will evaluate the results and we’ll discuss them at the January 24th VC-EDU Call (call connection info).

It’s a lengthy and thought-provoking list and I hope we have the opportunity to dig deep into each of these topics and maybe more. I reconsidered my choices quite a few times before I landed on these top 5:

  1. Verifiable Presentations (VPs) vs (nested) Verifiable Credentials (VCs) in the education context — How to express complex nested credentials (think full transcript). The description references full transcript but this topic is also related to presentation of multiple single achievements by the learner. I ranked this first because presentations are a core concept of VCs and very different from how the education ecosystem is accustomed to sharing their credentials. VPs introduce an exchange of credentials in response to a verifiable request versus sharing a badge online or emailing a PDF. Also, there’s been quite a bit of discussion surrounding more complex credentials such as published transcripts that we can get into here.
  2. Integration with Existing Systems — Digitizing existing systems, vs creating; existing LMSes; bridging; regulatory requirements — ex: licensing, PDFs needing to be visually inspected. To gain some traction with VCs, we need to understand how systems work now and what can be improved upon using VCs but also, how do we make VCs work with what is needed now?
  3. Bridging Tech. This ties into integrating with existing systems above. We are accustomed to the tech we have now and it will be with us for some time. For instance, email will still be used for usernames and identity references even when Decentralized Identifiers start gaining traction. They will coexist and it can be argued that compromises will need to be made (some will argue against this).
  4. Protocols — Much of the work in VC-EDU so far has been about the data model. But what about the protocols — what do we /do/ with the VCs once we settle on the format? (How to issue, verify, exchange, etc). This made my top five because as the description notes, we’re pretty close to a data model but we need to understand more about the protocols that deliver, receive, and negotiate credential exchanges. Part of what we do in VC-EDU is learn more about what is being discussed and developed in the broader ecosystem and understanding protocols will help the community with implementation.
  5. Context file for VC-EDU — Create a simple context file to describe an achievement claim. There are education standards organizations like IMS Global (Open Badges & CLR) that are working towards aligning with VC-EDU but having an open, community-created description of an achievement claim, even if it reuses elements from other vocabularies, will provide a simple and persistent reference. A context file in VC-EDU could also provide terms for uses in VCs that haven’t yet been explored in education standards organizations and could be models for future functionality considerations.