Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Blockchain?

A blockchain is a data structure that stores a ledger of transactions that have occurred over time. Transactions are stored in blocks and linked together sequentially, forming a chain of events. This operates as an immutable timeline of history. A blockchain is best utilized when recording the movement of digital assets from one party to another. In the case of financial transactions, it records who sent it, who received it, how much was sent, and perhaps some other information. In the case of credentials, a blockchain records the same basic things: who issued it, who received it, and a one-way hash of the certificate. All of these pieces form the essential components for using a blockchain as a digital notary that can be used to verify the authenticity of official records.

Why does Learning Machine use the Bitcoin blockchain?

The Bitcoin blockchain is a distributed network replicated all over the world, much like the Internet, so it can’t be easily taken down or manipulated. It is a public blockchain open to anyone, and it is not owned by any company or government. Further, Bitcoin is the most secure, most widely-tested, and most widely-adopted blockchain.

While other blockchains may boast of greater speed or flexibility, an academic credentialing system doesn’t need speed or flexibility; it needs reliability. We chose the Bitcoin blockchain because it is best-positioned to guarantee immutability and longevity for credential holders.

What types of records can be represented as a certificate?

The word “certificate” is being used generically as a symbol for any number of form factors. This includes diplomas, transcripts, course completion, badges, professional certifications--anything. A certificate is content-agnostic and simply makes claims of achievement independently verifiable.

Issuing a batch of certificates is similar to an email campaign, in that variables can be merged into each certificate. Simple certificates may use the recipient’s first name and last name. More complex documents, like a transcript, could merge in an individual’s grades across subject areas.

When is Learning Machine a good fit?

Learning Machine serves countries, companies, universities, and others. The technology we provide is a bridge to conveniently take advantage of the public blockchain infrastructure, regardless of the content type. Notarizing official records on the blockchain is most appropriate when your institution wants to provide a record of achievement or membership which is important enough that third parties may later want to verify those claims.

Can certificates be edited, versioned, or revoked?

Once a certificate has been issued, it cannot be edited by the issuer or the recipient. This is one of the blockchain’s primary features. However, certificates may have expiration dates, and they can be revoked if necessary. New certificates may be issued at any time.

What’s unique about Learning Machine’s offering?

Learning Machine is the first to offer a complete ecosystem that utilizes the blockchain for issuing, viewing, and verifying certificates. While other vendors may offer to notarize records, Learning Machine has made it possible for your communities to hold their own official records. The primary piece creating convenience is Learning Machine’s mobile app, which handles all cryptographic key management in the background. This allows certificate recipients to easily organize, view, and share their official records directly with others in a manner that is safe, tamper-proof, and trusted.

How does Learning Machine work with its partners?

While Learning Machine is a product company, we form deep service relationships with our customers to help them design, deploy, and operate effectively and securely. A typical engagement begins with educating key stakeholders about the technology and conducting product demos. Once understanding and confidence is established, planning and design for a one-year pilot is established. Our integration team will help get your production instance configured and integrated with your other systems of record. Training and ongoing support will help to ensure your success.

How much does Learning Machine cost?

Price varies depending on the scope of your implementation. At the enterprise level, we will spend time (for free) educating your various stakeholders to help determine institutional intent. Once intent is established, we can help you plan, customize, and install a production pilot instance for one year. Expanding to a wider installation across your network will take into account factors like the number of issuing workspaces, number of certificates issued, and the amount of training and support for ongoing operation.