Blockchain Comes to the Aid of Education

“There can be infinite uses of the computer and of new age technology, but if teachers themselves are not able to bring it into the classroom and make it work, then it fails.”—Nancy Kassebaum

From fintech to supply chain, from airlines to automotive—blockchain has a good deal of promise to solve many issues in their respective industries. Another industry that is in the sites of blockchain use case, is education. While education is defined as everything from Kindergarten to the 12th grade, from first year of college to graduate and post doc degrees, it also includes everything from adult school, trade schools, to specialty schools such as law, nursing, and medical schools to name a few.

Aashish Sharma in Hackermoon highlights a number of areas and issues that blockchain can help to address or improve its efficiency. Educators are involved in tracking assignments, grades, absences, and testing.

Education is fully responsible for tracking educational records from grade school to graduate school and beyond. Education is involved in teacher to student classroom presentations, and web based technology to delivery of classroom instruction. All of which create student records from managing and scheduling courses, to grading and providing certificates of completion once a course is completed.

Tom Vander Ark wrote in an article for Forbes describes blockchain as a public ledger that can automatically record and verify transactions. The distributed ledger technology (DLT) has the ability to transform nearly any industry that needs to trace records, contracts, data points, and the like.

Ark writes that many industries have use cases for a transparent, verifiable register of transaction data are numerous because DLT operates through a decentralized platform making it fraud resistant. In this article, I provide a summary of areas that blockchain can address directly related to student, learner needs.

 From Grading to Validation

From Kindergarten to the twelfth grade (K-12), student records are kept in a centralized database. Grading continues to college and post-graduate level. The records are used for admission to colleges, graduate programs, getting a job, and more. Thus there is a need to secure transcripts that are universally recognized and verifiable.

Image Source: medium.com

With DLT, transcripts can now be decentralized. DLT can streamline verification process and can be used to reduce fraudulent claims of unearned educational credits. Yet another application of transcripts is for the graduate to make these available to a prospective employer.

Employers can be given a digital badge to verify skill assertions made by the applicant. Moreover, multiple badges can be used for an open badge passport that students can share with potential employers.

 Student Verification

DLT can be used as a student directory rather than as a data warehouse of the entire student’s records. A complete student record can be data intensive, and impractical for blockchain. Thus, blockchain can be used to secure access to a complete record, and it can also be used to share student records with interested parties. With the proliferation of learning apps and services—identity management has become a significant problem. That means that with blockchain platforms users can have access to their identity on the internet.

 Blockchain for Student Courses

Students often have a need to take a course online, or will need to find a classroom course. DLT offers the ability to eliminate middlemen. It can be developed to create learning marketplaces from test prep courses to offering practical classes on spreadsheets or graphic design. Learning marketplace platforms, where teachers and students come together, can help students find and pay for courses.

 Student Resources

All students have a need for learning resources. From books and online content, to libraries with a complete collection of reference material. Blockchain has the potential to have a number of applications in publishing. Educators and students may appreciate the benefits of expanded publishing options.

Blockchain platforms are “emerging to level the playing field for writers and encourage collaboration among authors, editors, translators, and publishers,” writes Ark. One example of blockchain application for publishing is the ability for authors to write, distribute, and get paid for their work.

With blockchain, writers can publish their work on the platform, and students will be able to buy books from blockchain platforms. With systems like Authorship Tokens (ATS), an Ethereum-based cryptocurrency—authors may be able to get 90% in royalties, and own the copyright.

DLT can also help libraries. With DLT, libraries can expand services by developing an enhanced metadata archive, a protocol for supporting educational collections, and facilitating more effective management of digital rights.

Image Source:learnovatecentre.org

Conclusion

With a growing population in America, and with the demand on educational resources, the costs of education delivery continue to rise. Recent teacher labor action in Los Angeles in January of 2019 demonstrate the strain on educator and student resources. (Blume, Howard ; Kohli, Sonali)

As blockchain and DLT become generally accepted in all industries, it is not surprising that DLT has a good deal of potential to meet the needs of educational services.

 


Sources

Ark, Tom Vander, “20 Ways Blockchain Will Transform (Okay, May Improve) Education”, Forbes, August 2018.

Blume, Howard ; Kohli, Sonali, “LAUSD teachers’ strike ends. Teachers to return to classrooms Wednesday”, Los Angeles Times, January 2019.

Sharma, Ashish, “Blockchain Could Revolutionize Education Next. Here’s How”, Hackermoon, December 2018.

 

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