Wednesday Deep Dive: Blockchain in Education
As part of our weekly Wednesday deep-dive into the applications of blockchain across different industries, last week we talked about the applications of blockchain in healthcare.
This week, we’re talking about the case for blockchain in the field of education.
Headlines were recently made when a number of high-profile universities started offering blockchain courses to their students. While encouraging young minds to study and advance the fields of blockchain, cryptocurrencies, and distributed ledger technologies is certainly a noteworthy cause, a related question that sometimes is ignored is this: How can these technologies be used to revamp and redesign education as a whole?
Many answers immediately come to mind: Distributed ledgers eliminate risks that arise from individuals claiming to have a degree from an institution that they did not graduate from. DLT can also help improve efficiency and lower costs by introducing automated procedures for processes such as student assessments, class registrations, payments, course submissions, and other administrative tasks. Smart contracts can even be used to validate the likes of attendance and assignment completion, which can even be done with a simple click of a button on a phone app.
We found the different applications of blockchain and cryptocurrencies in education to be truly fascinating, so here are a few more applications that we’d like to share with our readers.
- Learning marketplaces. One of the biggest advantage of using blockchain and distributed ledgers is the removal of the middleman. TeachMePlease is a Russian program that brings teachers and students together, and it helps students find and pay for courses that are registered by educational organizations or teachers themselves. ODEM and Edgecoin are other noteworthy examples of blockchain-powered learning marketplaces that are setting the trend in this space.
- Transcripts and records management. Blockchain can reduce manual processes, reduce fraud and human error, and increase accountability between authorities and the people they serve. Blockcerts is a project that provides an infrastructure for doing this: Their service can be used not only for creating but also issuing, viewing, and verifying blockchain-based certificates and records. Such solutions will help make academic credentials and education records universally recognized and verifiable, replacing what is currently a largely a manual process.
- Badges. Indorse is a project that uses blockchain to verify online portfolios, allowing the owner to verify and demonstrate specific skills using an electronic, digital badge.
- Student records. Sony and IBM have reportedly partnered up to use blockchain to secure and share student records. Progress is sure to be made slowly over time.
- Identity. Identity verification and management are big problems in education. Platforms such as Civic and Blockverify work by collecting specific types of user data and passing them to a government or third-party identity verification agency to store verified data in the blockchain while erasing other personal data from the system. Such systems can be used for authentication in order to be able to use other services (think of logging into other accounts using your existing Facebook or Google ID).
- Security. Xage is a company that is using blockchain for sharing security data across device networks. This has wide applications across university campuses, dorms, and labs.
- Payment cards. Blockchain can be used to help retailers offer secure gift cards and loyalty programs to students. Gyft is an online platform for buying, sending, and redeeming gift cards, and it partnered with blockchain infrastructure provider Chain to run gift cards for thousands of small businesses on the blockchain. These cards can be used by cities, schools, and families to purchase everything from school supplies and transport credits to tuition and tickets to events.
- Payments and administrative processes such as HR. Conducting background checks, verifying employment histories, and conducting applicant assessments can be very time-consuming and costly. Having employment and criminal records stored in the blockchain would streamline the candidate vetting and filtering process, thereby moving the hiring processes forward much more quickly.
A program developed by Chronobank could also be used in a university setting to make it easier for people to quickly find work and receive payments via crypto tokens without any involvement from traditional financial institutions.
- Governance. Boardroom is an app that provides a governance framework that helps decision-makers manage strategy and follow transparent accounting principles much more easily. All that is needed is for specific rules or guidelines to be coded into the blockchain and rules and decisions are automatically executed accordingly using smart contracts.
- Libraries. Blockchain can help libraries expand their services by enhancing existing archives, improving community-based collections, and facilitating better management of digital rights. An example of progress in this area is the San Jose School of Information receiving funding for exploring blockchain’s potential for in the realm of info services.
- Publishing. Authorship is a project that allows writers to publish their work on the Authorship platform while allowing readers to purchase the books using Authorship Tokens (ATS). Authors own the copyright to their work and receive 90% of ATS revenues that are generated, and there are other ambitious projects, such as PageMajik, that are helping to level the playing field for writers and encourage collaboration among different people such as authors, editors, translators, and publishers.
Notable mentions beyond the projects and tokens already covered above:
Woolf University uses blockchain to validate teacher and student attendance, assignment completion, for facilitating distributed learning schemes, for providing funding blockchain-based payment solutions, and performing audits of experiences, skills, eligible providers, terms and conditions, etc., obviously covering not only students and teachers but also vendors and partners.
CampusCoin (CMPCO) is an ambitious project that essentially tries to tie in most of the features discussed above: student IDs, enrollment, automating manual processes, connecting students with parents and educators, facilitating payments, and lots, lots more.