Digital Upgrade For Transcripts

Career College Central summary:

  • The much-maligned college transcript is finally going digital. A small group of private firms are seeing increasing demand for their repositories for e-transcripts, as colleges move away from paper versions for both incoming and outgoing students.
  • Roughly 24 percent of institutions received some form of digital transcripts in 2009, according to a survey conducted by the American Association of College Registrars and Admissions Officers. Only 17 percent sent them to other colleges or to employers. But those numbers have almost certainly increased.
  • The nonprofit National Student Clearinghouse runs an electronic transcript exchange that makes it one of the biggest players in the expanding field. The clearinghouse also has partnered with Hobsons and Ellucian, two education technology companies, on transcript processing and delivery. Parchment is a major competitor. The company got its start with high school transcripts. Currently more than 5,600 high schools use Parchment’s digital credentials.
  • Experts hope the shift to digital will help improve the college transcript, which most agree tells little about what a student knows or can do. Electronic transcripts can include more information, often including links to descriptions and examples of students’ work, knowledge and skills. For example, Reilly points to Stanford University’s electronic transcripts, which can feature “hot links” to a wealth of information that a static, paper version could not convey. When they are used this way, digital transcripts share similarities with other emerging forms of credentials, including digital badges, competency-based transcripts and new skills certifications from testing firms.

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