Blockchain is most commonly associated with cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. Data entered on a blockchain is stored in blocks that are linked together in chronological order, making tracing the data’s origins and verifying its authenticity relatively easy.
One industry where blockchain is just beginning to make a mark is education. Currently, the institutions that have adopted blockchain primarily use it to store and share academic records and credentials. However, researchers believe that the technology could revolutionize education in a number of ways: enhancing opportunities for lifelong learning, creating greater efficiencies for educators through smart contracts, and offering students ownership of their academic records, among other benefits.
Today, there are many benefits to using blockchain technology in learning institutions. Let’s take a look at the different applications of blockchain in education.
• Verification of Student Records
Blockchain technology transforms record-keeping of certificates and student credentials in learning institutions. There is no need for an intermediary in verifying degrees, certificates, diplomas, and other academic papers with blockchain technology.
• Decentralizing Online Learning
Learning institutions can use blockchain technology to ensure decentralized online learning. It helps students and instructors share information in real-time. When blockchain technology decentralizes online learning, institutions will not dictate the type of courses to publish and the amount to charge on every online course.
• Diplomas and certificates
Just like grades, a student’s diplomas and credentials could be issued and stored on a blockchain. Instead of asking the institution emitting the diploma to certify a paper copy, employers would only need to be provided with a link to a digital diploma. This prevents people from submitting fake degrees to potential employers.
• Lessons and courses
Many blockchains are also smart-contract capable. That means that lessons and courses can be programmed into the blockchain and executed automatically when certain conditions are met. For example, a teacher could set up tasks for students. The completion of each task could be automatically verified by the blockchain’s smart contracts. Upon completion of all tasks, teachers could receive payment with crypto tokens and students could be awarded credits. Entire courses could be laid out this way.
• Cost Savings on Courseware and Research material
Another area where blockchain can be useful in education is in making courseware accessible and affordable. One way is in cutting out intermediary fees in the purchase of software EBooks, for example, can be fitted with blockchain code and shared through the network. This will eliminate the fees charged by portals like Amazon and credit card fees. The books could be accessed straight from the authors themselves. This would mean major savings for both students and authors. Video tutorials and much more can be accessed this way
Blockchain is a technology that clearly has applications in the world of learning at the individual, institutional, group, national and international levels. It is relevant in all sorts of contexts: schools, colleges, universities, MOOCs, CPD, corporates, apprenticeships, and knowledge bases.
Rather than the old hierarchical structures, the technology becomes the focus, with trust migrating towards the technology, not the institutions.