Blockchain Technology in Education: Is It Only Good for Cryptocurrency Transactions?

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By 2018 all of us have heard about the Blockchain technology, the smartest of us have even figured it out. Still, there is so much to learn about the impact the Blockchain has on different spheres of life.

Having the Blockchain technology explained from different viewpoints poses a range of questions. So, what’s in it for educators? How to use it in education sphere?

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The recent crypto crash has brought many cryptocurrency holders to tears. Although Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple etc. provide the benefit of privacy, they still lack stability. For sure, the cryptocurrency crash has exposed the need for Bitcoin education to protect users from fraud.

What is the Blockchain, again?

But back to the Blockchain, what is it all about? The Blockchain is often referred to as a digital public ledger of transactions using the peer-to-peer network principle. Simply speaking, it is a distributed database that first became famous as the technology behind Bitcoin.

The ‘Blockchain ledger’ contains a public record of digital transactions that is impossible to alter.  

Every ‘block’ represents a group of transactions included in the digital ledger (‘chain’) and has a cryptographic signature (‘hash’). Each subsequent block refers to the signature of every preceding block in the chain.

Tracing the chain to the first block (the genesis block) is possible. However, the record of the transactions will remain unaltered and relatively anonymous.

Using the Blockchain in Education: Probable Scenarios

The recent report issued by the EU Science Hub offers 8 scenarios of using the Blockchain technology in the sphere of education.

cryptocurrency-edu-pic

Securing digital certificates of education

Using the Blockchain to store the digital signatures (hashes) attributed to digital certificates of education will help to secure and easily identify their ownership. Even if the education system of the entire country collapses, the accomplishments of a particular person will be easy to verify.

Also, the costs spent to issue or reissue the paper certificates of education will be greatly reduced.

This scenario, however, has a few drawbacks. The Blockchain technology is to be used only for storing the digital signatures. Therefore, a secure storage system for the certificates is needed.

Another aspect is the software meant to issue and verify the educational certificates with digital signatures. As of today, there is an open-source solution called Blockcerts.  

Credentials verification

Different accreditation systems exist all over the world, which may cause issues with credentials recognition. Many important accreditations are issued by the non-governmental institutions. Thus, the credibility of the body issuing an accreditation may require additional verification as well.

The Blockchain could simplify the multi-step verification of individual credentials making it hassle-free.

Using the digital signatures would help to accredit the institutions that issue all types of educational credentials. Also, the Blockchain technology would help to automate the verification process and check the validity of credentials in one click.

Learning credits recognition and transfer

Educational facilities recognizing the ECTS or EQAVET credits could easily transfer and award them using a custom blockchain. This could facilitate the credits transfer between the schools. Also, using the Blockchain technology could help employers access an employee’s academic history and verify their credits.

The transfer system currently exists between some institutions. However, the verification procedure is extremely cumbersome.

To improve the current system, not only the custom Blockchain is necessary. The unified credits recognition and transfer standard must be worked out.

Also, a critical mass of institutions carrying out the transactions using the Blockchain would speed up the implementation of this scenario.

Learning passport for a lifetime  

Not only credentials acknowledgment is important. The Blockchain can help in storing all of the academic achievements in one place and making them easily verifiable.

How about a ‘learning passport’ to keep formal, non-formal or informal evidence of learning in one place? This could help to eliminate the CV fraud, as well as all the verification hassle at the time of employment.

As of today, the Open Badges functions as the system to store the achievements and provide verification. As for the Blockchain, it could become a system for people to upload the claims, which are then verified by the other Blockchain nodes.  

Tracking intellectual property

The unauthorized use and re-use of intellectual property is a pressing matter of the digital era. Tracking the use of intellectual property is expensive. This is why specialized agencies handle these issues. The use and re-use of self-published materials are extremely hard to track.

In this respect, the Blockchain technology can be used for:

  • making a publication announcement for open educational resources
  • creating an open record of the references used in these publications  

Using the Blockchain for education this way will help to authenticate the date of publication and tracking the instances of publication reuse and references to it.

Processing student payments  

Perhaps, the most probable scenario of all presented in the report. Electronic tuition payments are accepted worldwide. It’s natural that soon enough the tuition payments made in cryptocurrency will be seen as a usual thing. This is the most convenient outcome for both students and educational institutions.

In specific countries, students may have limited access to bank accounts or credit cards. On the other hand, access to the cryptocurrency wallet has no such limitations. This way, using the Blockchain-based cryptocurrency simplify the access to education

. The only thing needed to put this scenario into life is introducing the ways to receive crypto payments for educational facilities.

Student voucher funding via the Blockchain

Funding education in particular institutions using vouchers is becoming more common. The vouchers funded by the state provide free education compelling the educational facilities to improve the quality of services. Vouchers might have specific conditions like requiring a student to graduate.

All of this poses a question as to tracking proper voucher allocation. Using the Blockchain technology will allow releasing the tuition funding in tranches to either a student or educational facility. Implementing the smart contracts basis will allow receiving the funding in advance and release it only when specific requirements are met.

The benefits are obvious: less bureaucracy, no intermediaries, fair funding distribution.

Improved student identification

Is it possible to identify a student within the specific educational organization while keeping their personal data safe? Thing is, within large organizations, random people may have access to personal information. Developing a hack-proof system of restrictions is necessary to ensure specific data wouldn’t land into the wrong hands.

Implementing verified self-sovereign identities will ensure that the students themselves are the only data holders.

Also, this system will restrict access to everyone except people responsible for the first-instance identity verification. To adopt the self-sovereign identities universally, the vendors currently holding student information need to use this technology in their architectures.

Bottom  Line

The Blockchain is invading different spheres of human life. Soon enough the Blockchain training is likely to become a usual school subject.

As for now, experts are working out the ways of using the Blockchain to resolve the pressing matters in the education system. Some of the above scenarios are transcending from fantasy to reality.

The possibility of making modifications to the previous blocks within the chain of transactions makes the Blockchain technology trustworthy and fraud-proof. This gives hope to make education process more transparent and safe for all the participants.

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Blockchain Technology in Education: Is It Only Good for Cryptocurrency Transactions?
Title
Blockchain Technology in Education: Is It Only Good for Cryptocurrency Transactions?
Description
By 2018 all of us have heard about the Blockchain technology, the smartest of us have even figured it out. Still, there is so much to learn about the impact the Blockchain has on different spheres of life.
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