Today we are going to school you on how blockchain tech is going to affect schools.
Education has evolved so much over such a short amount of time. I was actually going through school when the Internet gain popularity… So all those times digging through card catalogs and encyclopedias were rendered completely useless once Google was a thing. The Internet fundamentally changed how people learn, and that of course changed the way we teach.
The Internet was obviously a great disruptive force for education, and that was a huge challenge for educators to adapt to. Well, the disruptive technology known as blockchain might be on the horizon, and that will obviously impact the both the educational process and the administrative processes that make any educational system work.
What is the blockchain & what’s it good at?
If you’ve watched a few of our videos about the strength of blockchains, you may have noticed a theme. Blockchains are really good, and transparent, record keepers. Currently most permanent records — transcripts and private student information — are kept either on paper records and/or centralized local databases. What do those paper records and local databases have in common? They are really bad a storing information.
This may seem counterintuitive, because we use paper tracking and centralized servers for everything. But if you dig a little deeper you’ll see that there are deficiencies with both of these methods. Paper records can get destroyed, whether it be a flood or fire. That happens all of the time. Centralized servers, which act as a goldmine repository of information, are targets for hackers, which in turn can sell your private data.
The blockchain is a distributed network where every participating computer (one that is running the required software), or node, each has a copy of every bit of that data. This makes it really hard to alter this information, giving it permanence and immutability. Better yet, in an open blockchain, public information can be displayed to anyone seeking it.
So how can blockchains impact the field of education?
The easiest answer is verifying credentials and previous professional experience. Every so often you hear about a “professor” who ends up not being who he or she says they are. They might embellish their previous experiences in order to get a job or look like they have more experience then they really do. These untrustworthy individuals invade the academic space, and undermine its credibility.
In the short term, blockchains provide a simple and encrypted way of ensuring that a person is qualified and educated enough to fulfill the requirements for a position. They provide a plausible means of security for employers and employees to prove their credentials in certain areas. As blockchains are immutable ledgers, it would be difficult to lie or say you have taken coursework that you truly have not taken coursework in. It would be easy for employers to authenticate this information. It also leaves a traceable link to institutions that can help the employer verify it. This can provide a more secure solution to teacher-readiness accountability in public schools, and it can ensure that teachers have taken appropriate classwork for the job they are taking on, or help teacher show they are qualified in various areas.
Currently universities around the world have begun implementing blockchain technologies to monitor and keep account for transcripts and qualifications for students and educators. Like MIT who is testing “Blockcerts,” University of Nicosia in Cyprus, University of Melbourne in Australia, and more. There has also been questions regarding research into using blockchains to monitor and keep track of student assessment scores in K-12 education.
“Learning is Earning” is a company that has invented the idea of “edublocks,” which can be collected by various institutions and community centers to collect credits or prove that a person has taken classes about certain topics and subjects, and also allows others to use their credentials to be teachers or mentors. This project is specifically exciting as it has wide hopes to revolutionize the world of education. It give people the opportunity to use their education as a token, so to speak, in the modern world. These are just some projects that are currently being explored.
Blockchains also offer a secure database for student test scores and data from online learning systems. Some parents have begun to question the security of these systems. They track a great deal of information on students, and this information is being held online. Not only does this data hold substantial amounts private information that should not be accessible to all, but it also holds a great deal of information for teachers. That data is used to determine a student’s readiness to pass onto the next grade. What happens if these servers are hacked? Or if the information is lost because it is held in a centralized server? Blockchains can provide the security for students, parents, teachers, school districts, and companies.
And let’s not forget that education doesn’t end with school. Employee trunover causes companies to spend lots of money on training employees. A blockchain can streamline this process, saving cost and time.