Blockchain isn’t something new to education. As with other industries and fields, this technology has been influencing education systems around the globe for quite some time.
First, blockchain was something that was only available to the top universities and educational institutions. MIT, of course, was the first one to use this technology, as it started issuing digital diplomas using blockchain back in 2017.
However, today, we can also see smaller colleges and universities implement blockchain technology into their academic processes.
For example, recently, Central New Mexico Community College became a leader in using blockchain to collect and share student records. This community college also developed an open-source platform to collect digital credentials and also issue digital diplomas.
Blockchain takes over all areas of education so fast that it makes you wonder – what else can this technology bring? What is blockchain’s potential for the education system in the future?
Let’s take a look at a few several scenarios, how blockchain can possibly change education around the globe.
1. Verification of Credentials
One of the biggest problems that students have to face is the lack of access to their credentials. When they graduate, they get the confirmation of having completed a degree program.
However, these documents aren’t easily shared with employers, who often require proof of a degree. This creates unnecessary problems during the recruitment process.
Previously, to solve this issue, employers had to go to the National Student Clearinghouse, who would transfer student data to verify credentials.
The problem here is that the NSC is a third-party organization, which charges fees for providing this proof. Besides, not all universities and colleges use NSC’s services, which often leads to fraud and misrepresentation.
How can blockchain help verify student credentials?
The nature of blockchain technology allows universities and colleges to turn paper documents into digital credentials. We already mentioned that MIT is doing something similar to this by issuing digital diplomas.
However, with blockchain, educational institutions can go further and encompass all the documents needed for the verification of student credentials. Universities can take advantage of blockchain’s ability to time-stamp data, which can be an extra confirmation of the validity of every document.
The general benefit in terms of the verification of credentials is that every block in a chain is secure and cannot be altered. And when the data in a block gets changed, every nod gets an alert, which means that these changes cannot go unnoticed. This is one of the biggest benefits that blockchain technology can bring to education.
Verification of academic credentials: a use case
There are companies that have already introduced blockchain to educational institutions to make the process of verification easier. APPII is one of them.
APPII is a London-based company that mostly does employee background checks and CV verification using blockchain. With its service, a person can:
- submit the CV for verification
- run the CV through the APPII’s blockchain-powered platform to check the validity of credentials with universities or employers
- get a badge confirming the verification of credentials
To eliminate the bureaucratic struggle of confirming the validity of students’ academic credentials, APPII has partnered with The Open University to launch an accreditation platform that collects information about new students and stores alumni records, which they can later withdraw if their future employers need proof of their academic achievements.
2. Better Management of the Academic Progress
The methods that many colleges and universities around the globe use to track student academic performance are getting obsolete and irrelevant. Attendance journals and Excel spreadsheets with test scores aren’t the best and most beneficial solution to evaluate students’ academic progress.
How can blockchain solve this issue?
Blockchain has the potential to help manage academic progress more effectively. This technology can provide teachers with an opportunity to track academic performance in real-time.
Moreover, students can also get their benefits from this solution. Claire Jefferson, a researcher and editor at Subjecto, says: “Thanks to the decentralized ledger platform powered by blockchain, students can monitor and evaluate their general academic performance over a long period of time.” Thus, blockchain can help students evaluate their academic progress objectively.
A blockchain-powered platform can also help teachers keep track of all the test scores and assignments in one place. Such a solution would also allow teachers to give immediate feedback, making the learning process more agile.
Management of the academic progress with blockchain: a use case
Shikapa, a startup based in San Francisco, has developed a blockchain-backed solution for the kids in Western Africa to help monitor their academic progress. With it, both teachers and students can:
- monitor grades
- track the curriculum
- store student attendance records
- communicate via a centralized network
- review the breakdown of student performance data
This startup is focused on the third-world and developing countries in Africa because of the numerous issues in their education systems. The goal is to use data and blockchain to introduce positive, tangible changes throughout the entire K-12.
Such an application of blockchain technology shows its incredible potential for the education system, especially in the countries that don’t invest much into high-quality education.
Platforms, like Shikapa, not only help manage academic progress but also connect students and teachers with other educational institutions and government officials, helping them make their voice heard.
3. Improved Continuous Education
Over the past few years, online courses and distance education have become quite popular. Universities and colleges also invest more in online education. Reportedly, 48% of higher education institutions increased their budgets for distance learning last year.
All these efforts largely contribute to improving continuous education. However, when distance learning becomes the new normal, colleges and universities might find themselves in need of the technology that will help them make online education more organized.
How can blockchain improve lifelong learning?
Last year, the Blockchain Research Institute presented its take on the impact of blockchain on continuous education.
In the whitepaper, researchers from this institute suggested that blockchain can not only provide students and educators with full access to learning data but can also improve the security of the entire learning process.
On top of that, the nature of blockchain technology will change the pedagogical approaches that educators use during lessons.
Because the data will be more accessible and educational processes will all be happening in real-time, teachers will have to make the online learning environment more personalized and customized to fit the abilities of each student, which will benefit their learning abilities.
Improving continuous education through blockchain: a use case
Although the use of blockchain in distance learning requires more research, there are companies that are already implementing it.
For example, ODEM, a Swiss blockchain startup, has created a digital marketplace for learners and teachers around the globe.
The company uses blockchain technology to connect students and educators and help them find relevant courses to advance their skills and careers. Both students and teachers use smart contracts to start certain courses.
The system then analyzes the courses that a student has taken or an educator has taught and assigns tokens that boost their reputation on the ODEM platform. Students can also use these tokens to pay for courses later.
ODEM’s solution is a great example of an innovative approach to continuous education. Its platform is focused more on educational value than on monetary value, which benefits both students and educators, and encourages them to keep learning.
Although there are quite a few applications of blockchain in education available to us already, there is still a long way to go until this technology fully penetrates the education system.
But we can already see the amazing benefits that blockchain brings to both students and educators. The ways that blockchain is already changing the way we learn truly show its great potential to improve the global education system in the future.