At the beginning of 2019—Andrew Arnold reviewed the state of blockchain. In 2018, he says, “95% of companies across different industries were investing in blockchain tech projects.” Many of the pilot projects finally moved from a test stage to end users. Beyond investing and finance, blockchain projects were released in many other industries—including cybersecurity, healthcare and agriculture.
More recently, the education sector started to look at blockchain use case applications. In particular, according to Lilian Yedigaryan (Nooor Blockchain Armenia), “big steps have been taken towards revolutionizing the education system—with the help of blockchain.” (Noor)
Blockchain Education Use Cases
With blockchain distributed ledger technology and its decentralized properties, blockchain can be used in education on a number of levels. The following are a few key use case applications reviewed by Yedigaryan—where blockchain is poised to disrupt education for both learner and industry.
Diplomas, Certifications. There are an estimated 200,000 fake diplomas sold by diploma mills in the U.S. With blockchain’s trusted and secured data protection, diplomas can be validated and made available on the distributed network for any interested party.
Security and File Storage. School data storage systems contain student data and are vulnerable to hacking. Blockchain’s security can be used to protect networks and student data.
Human Resources. With blockchain enabled records, students will be able to provide employers verification of their degrees, certifications, and credentials. When schools and HR collaborate, students can provide access to their records without having to request transcripts from their school—a timely and costly process.
Publishing. Graduate students writing research papers, often with new concepts and innovation, will have more access and protection. Much of their work is published in academic journals and publications. With blockchain—the rights of the student can be protected.
Blockchain can have various applications within academic publishing, and in terms of rights management. Currently, academic research is published by a handful of large publishers. If the student is not part of this system—their work will go unnoticed. Moreover, the peer review process, says Yedigaryan, is outdated. The result is that it will take a good deal of time and financial resources for a paper to be peer reviewed and published. With blockchain—the entire publication process could be disrupted for the whole industry.
Promises of ODEM
One startup project that is focused on disrupting education is ODEM. It is a blockchain educational platform that according to its website seeks to transform “the way we learn, work and grow on a global scale.”
ODEM, which stands for On-Demand Education Marketplace, is a blockchain-based educational platform based in Switzerland. It is designed for academic and enterprise applications, say the authors of Crypto Briefing. Educators and students can “store credentials in Ethereum smart contracts.” The progress of the student can be validated with smart contracts.
ODEM’s plans to enter the learning space by offering college courses online. While many platforms like Coursera offer thousands of courses online for reputable colleges like “Princeton, Stanford, and [the] University of Michigan to over 33 million users”, ODEM is looking to build a peer-to-peer (P2P) marketplace for in-person interactions.
A challenge faced by most schools and learning centers is the ability to offer all courses to all students. A learner who wants to take a course in virtual reality from one school may not be able to take a class, say in economics from the same school. Thus ODEM’s goal is to meet the needs of the students’ self-directed learning path.
According to Crypto Brief, the primary goal of ODEM is “to remove all borders in college education.” Learners who want to study subjects such as blockchain, AI, or virtual reality will be able to craft their very own learning path across any school or institution offering related content.
This gives the learner the ability to “simultaneously take classes from MIT, Cambridge, and ETH Zurich” in a way that the learners can meet their personal goals while getting the best possible education: The ultimate promise of ODEM.
However, offering one-on-one in person sessions will require video conferencing tools like Skype or Google Hangouts. The ODEM algorithms are constantly working to match students and educators based on personalized academic supply and demand system on the platform.
Did you know you’re now able to register as a student or educator on the #ODEM platform? Just go to our newly revamped website to register & gain early access to our educational portal! Visit https://t.co/ics1u5vgND for your first look! 📚#education #highered #edtech #blockchain pic.twitter.com/1DUNIMfKSo
— BlockchainGirl (@BlockchainGirll) March 6, 2019
The challenge of many employers is hiring qualified candidates. Unfortunately, too many candidates are not forthcoming or truthful about their background and work related experience. While ODEM is using blockchain technology and distributed ledgers to correct for this problems, they are also poised to bridge learning centers for students to be able to craft their educational background in a way that tailors their career path well into their future.
The ability for student records to be stored on a smart contract, making them permanent records is one the goals of educational blockchain use case applications. Thus—by the end of one’s career at 65—one could look back at every course ever taken in their life: A vision of things to come, and a goal still a long way from reality.