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Episode 19: Blockchain for education and workforce communities


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Listen to this IBM Blockchain Pulse Podcast episode and others on iTunes, Spotify, TuneIn and Stitcher.


Helping education go further

blockchain pulse

Today’s episode of the ​IBM Blockchain Pulse ​podcast features a great conversation with Rick Torres, the CEO and President of National Student Clearinghouse. This is a first for the podcast, as our host Matt Hooper has yet to have a leader in the field of education on the show. Rick has dedicated his life to solving problems in the space of education and his current work with the National Student Clearinghouse is no exception.

The National Student Clearinghouse’s goal is to “help education go further” and the work they do goes from improving students’ career readiness to understanding student outcomes to much more.

So what are some of the educational progresses already underway? And what will the ecosystem look like in a couple of years? This conversation with Rick covers this along with credentialing, verification and of course blockchain! Don’t miss out.

Learn how innovative companies and individuals use blockchain for social good

Key takeaways

[:00] An excerpt from today’s episode.
[:36] About today’s episode with ​Ricardo “Rick” Torres.
[1:42] Matt welcomes Rick on to the podcast!
[2:15] Rick shares what he gets to do all day long as the CEO of the National Student Clearinghouse.
[5:47] Rick provides some historical context on how the organization operated when it was founded back in 1993 and how it has evolved since then.
[11:22] Matt shares how IBM is bringing resources together for you and your businesses during this pandemic.
[12:40] Rick shares the goal of the National Student Clearinghouse and explains how they’re achieving it.
[15:05] Rick explains how National Student Clearinghouse is making sure that students, workers, and learners are succeeding in their education.
[21:42] Rick highlights some of the missing elements for education programs to be successful.
[23:04] How is blockchain helping to streamline the process of verifiable digital credentials? And what is some of the specific work the NSC is doing around blockchain?
[25:05] Rick shares some of the conditions that he found that needed to be true in order to have blockchain work regarding verifiable digital credentials. Rick also shares what he believes the overall promise of blockchain to be.
[26:05] How blockchain can help aid collaboration between all the different players.
[29:20] What the promise of blockchain requires.
[27:15] The four types of transitions learners go through and how blockchain can verify this lifelong learning.
[28:28] Rick explains the importance of the standards around the skill definitions.
[29:20] If one of the ultimate goals of blockchain is to bridge the skills gap in education and reduce the guesswork that goes into confirming academic credentials records, where does Rick see this field evolving in two to five years?
[33:00] Rick speaks about what is being done at an education industry level and the NSC around a post-COVID-19 world and an uncertain economic future.
[37:35] Rick shares what area the NSC is currently innovating.
[39:23] Rick talks about the importance of impact regarding the work that the NSC is doing.
[40:19] Rick wraps up the podcast by speaking about NSC’s mission and blockchain as a whole.
[44:42] Matt thanks Rick for joining the ​IBM Blockchain Pulse p​odcast!

Sources mentioned

National Student Clearinghouse
IBM Blockchain COVID-19 response

Follow-up with our guest

Rick Torres’ LinkedIn

Looking for more episodes?

Visit IBM Blockchain​ — and for news and updates, follow ​@IBMBlockchain​ on Twitter!


“To be honest with you, … this has been the job of a lifetime. I never expected, when I joined this organization 12 years ago … to have the opportunity to have an impact on education, [the] workforce, and the future of how [they both] come together.”
— Rick Torres

“This is at the heart of the … mission: … creating a normalized way for … education organizations to understand … the interventions … and the program changes that they’re making are actually working to support social trajectory change in the U.S.” — Rick Torres

“In order for [education] programs to be successful, there are a couple of missing elements … with or without blockchain, you actually need to have standards around things like skills.” — Rick Torres

“The promise of blockchain, I believe, is that it can be a convening technology.” — Rick Torres

“The question is: if you’re going to create a new technology and a new way to go about doing something, then the benefit has got to be very, very clear.” — Rick Torres

“Imagine employers being able to recruit the right employee for the right role. We are trying to accelerate the work that we’re doing in this space so that we can get this out here in time to serve the needs of this population — and ​that, ​I believe, is a major innovation.” — Rick Torres

“I’ve never been prouder of my team [at NSC] … and how we’ve stepped up and tried to help these schools. It’s times like these where your organization is defined in terms of what you’re all about.” — Rick Torres

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