Technical Guidance

LERs are digital credentials representing learning and employment related achievements. LERs could be a single credential or a collection of credentials. Across a lifetime, one may earn many LERs.

For LERs to be effective at scale, they must be able to function across a variety of technical and human systems where individuals may seek to use their employment and education data. The recommended path towards LER interoperability across the web is to leverage the W3C Verifiable Credentials web standard. Verifiable Credentials provides a container that may be used for LER achievement data and instructions for how LERs can be digitally signed. Verifiers of LERs use software that checks the integrity of the digital signature and evidence that the credential hasn’t been tampered with since it was issued. They may check additional data points such as whether the credential has been revoked or expired, if the issuer identity can be trusted, or if the content in the LER is suitable for the context in which it is being used.

As described in the the Digital Credentials Consortium white paper, Making Sense of the Key Data Standards for Verifiable LERs, the 1EdTech standards, Open Badges 3.0 and Comprehensive Learner 2.0 (CLR v2), function like W3C Verifiable Credentials. As with previous versions of these standards, the latest versions can accommodate rich descriptions of learning and employment. Unlike previous versions, Open Badges 3.0 and Comprehensive Learner Record 2.0 can be digitally signed, making them suitable for the issuance of formal documents such as degrees and transcripts.

Advantages of Verifiable Credentials:

  • Issued on demand
  • Digitally signed by issuer
  • Cannot be changed once signed
  • Identity provided by L/Earner
    • Could be a decentralized id
    • Could be another identity agreed upon with issuer
    • Does not need to be an email address (which could be changed or lost)
  • Stored in web or mobile wallets that l/earners control
  • L/earner controls privacy
    • Decides with whom or what to share
    • Verification is between verifier and l/earner
    • Issuer is not contacted for verification

It’s often asked if learning and employment records issued using older digital credentials standards, as PDFs, or in other formats besides Verifiable Credentials are considered to be “LERs”. The answer is yes, but they will be inherently less usable and applicable on the web when Verifiable Credentials are expected by web sites and applications.

For as long as Open Badges 2.0 and earlier are hosted by their issuing web platforms, they should continue to be available to share online but they will not be verifiable in the same cryptographic manner because they won’t be digitally signed. PDFs will likely continue to have their place in the world but even digitally signed PDFs are not as functionally usable as the machine readable data in Verifiable Credentials. The best course of action is to seek software and vendors that are using or willing to use the W3C Verifiable Credentials standard for LERs.

The Competency Based Education Network Interoperability Principles offer guidance and key design elements for optimal LER systems. Recognition and adherence to these principles is encouraged for technology vendors and other decision makers within the ecosystem.


Data included in LERs are formatted using a standard structure, allowing for easy exchange between individuals, education, and employment.


Systems protect the privacy and security of individuals' data, which, in turn, builds and maintains trust in LERs.


Learning is lifelong, and quality learning can occur outside of the classroom. Interoperable LERs honor the value of all learning and offer processes for validating a wide range of learning, skills, and competencies.


Interoperable LERs support learners' mobility by functioning in local, regional, state, national, and global talent marketplaces.


Interoperable LERs are user-centered and ensure every potential user has access to and control over a digital wallet to store, manage, and curate LERs.


All stakeholders, including employers, states, and local, regional and, federal agencies, are aligned, intentionally collaborating to support and ensure fidelity to interoperability principles.


A healthy marketplace is cultivated and regulated to both encourage innovation and ensure that the benefits of interoperable LERs are shared by all stakeholders.

This work was supported by a grant from Walmart