Blockchain the currency of education
Blockchain technology has transformed processes into different economic, scientific, and other sectors. In fact, there are platforms that use blockchain technology to make visible the supply chain of the products we eat, managing to follow the path that travels the food from the start of a crop until it reaches our table.
Electoral processes can also benefit through blockchain technology since the use of decentralized accounting for vote counting may be a good option to fill in the failures of existing audit systems in elections. In Colombia, the possibility of using this type of technology to systematize property titles or validate studies abroad has already been studied.
On major personal data breaches happening around the worldalmost every day, adopting a technology that keeps records secure and immutable, such as blockchain, increasingly becomes a necessity. And while the use of this technology has been increasing in recent years, many people still do not know the social benefits and potential of this technology, especially in education.
Blockchain can be applied in schools, colleges, universities, online courses, corporations, internships and many other areas of knowledge, but before understanding its applications, it is vital to understand what exactly blockchain.
What is Blockchain?
Blockchain is not a company or an application; it is a completely new way to document data. It is a series of immutable, shareable, and time-sensitive data, managed by a group of computers.
The information in the blockchain or blockchain is distributed through ledgers, which record the information in a community. In each block, all members must validate each transaction so that all involved also have a copy of that information, so it is impossible to alter the above data thanks to consensus.
Ledgers serve as tools that determine asset ownership, regardless of type, at any time. They provide a list of centralized authority transfers in each information block. Blockchain information can range from money transfers, ownership, identity documents, an agreement between the parties, or any other information that requires peer validation for confirmation and liability.
The different types of Blockchain
Three different types of Blockchain solutions can be used:
- Public Blockchains– Anyone can download, adapt, or customize and transact. Usually, this type of blockchain requires millions of machines. This type produces the highest immutability and transparency; however, it also has the highest inefficiency due to its high costs of storage and use of electricity, and low transaction speed.
- Private Blockchains– They work by invitation only and follow a set of rules created by the inviters. Due to the low number of people involved, it can be more specialized, with ups and downs such as lower immutability and transparency, greater centralization, efficiency, volume of transactions and speed. All of this reduces the cost and resources used.
- Blockchain consortia: it is a hybrid between the private and the public, it also works only by invitation or by request, but all guests have the same voting rights when they make decisions by consensus.
Advantages of Blockchain technology
- Authenticity: Users can identify themselves while keeping all their personal and storage data private.
- Trust: This technology gives people sufficient confidence in operations to conduct transactions such as payments or certificates.
- Transparency and origin: Users can transact knowing that each party can participate in that transaction.
- Immutable: Records are written and stored permanently without modification, making them immutable.
- Decentralized—Eliminates the need for centralized authority in charge of transactions and record keeping.
- No mediators: Users can transact directly between them without the need for mediation by a third party.
Uses of Blockchain in education
Permanent security certificates
Educational institutions currently issue paper certificates or diplomas, sometimes in an electronic format that uses a public key infrastructure. These formats require a lot of time and costs toprocess, especially to maintain and verify them, require certification from a third party and are also prone to being lost or even destroyed in inadequate storage, a natural disaster, a conflict, or a simple human error.
At Territorium we offer a new Comprehensive Learner Record (CLR) product, this new solution gives validation and mobility to documents or certifications.
When using a public blockchain to issue certificates, each user has a unique signed digital certification, so to be verified, it only has to be compared to the signature on the blockchain. Certificates will be stored securely and permanently, protecting the user in the event that the institution that issued it closes. Another benefit to third-party validation comes from solving the problem of issuing the certification of the educational organization, since they do not need more resources to confirm their validation to others, since they can do it themselves with this technology.
For this to happen, institutions need software, such as Blockcerts, that allows certificates with signatures published in a blockchain, as well as verification software to confirm them.
Using Blockchains to verify multi-step accreditation.
Currently, each country has a different accreditation system, which means that non-governmental agencies or private companies accredit other agencies so that they can pass a certificate. In addition, for an educational organization that recognizes a diploma, they must verify not only the problem, but also the quality of the institution issuing the accreditation, resulting in a time-consuming process.
By issuing accreditations using blockchain technology, institutions can validate the person’s credential with a simple click. Automating the current process makes it easy to view the accreditation chain and verify that the information presented is valid and real.
Using a Blockchain for automatic recognition and credit transfer
Educational organizations that use credits to confirm student learning can use a blockchain to transfer those credits. In doing so, the guarantee of a certificate and the certificate itself will be stored securely and immutably. For students, this means they will not need a third party involved; they just need to give future employers access to their profile and their total credits are instantly visible and verifiable. In addition, when a student travels abroad for an international exchange program, the use of blockchain can be very beneficial for both home and receiving institutions.
At present, the transfer of credits depends on both institutions agreeing to recognize the other party’s credits under certain conditions, which cannot lead to any recognition. By using blockchain, these agreements can be drafted into contracts that, when both parties meet these conditions, the transformation of credits is automatic.
This can only be achieved if there is a standard for existing credits, a custom blockchain design for storing information together, and a high number of participating institutions.
Using a Blockchain as a lifelong learning passport
Many of the alternative credentials on the market provide users with a way to record their achievements; however, very few of them offer ways to verify the experience and credentials. Therefore, they end up being like a box full of paper but digital certificates, with no benefits or efficient accreditation process.
By using blockchain, the student stores their own achievements from any source, formal or informal, and can share it with this technology for instant verification. This can reduce CV fraud, as well as reduce the workload for organizations and individuals interested in the person sending that resume.
For this to happen, a verified digital federal identity must be created, such as a metadata standard that can be used by recruitment software that automatically checks whether the person has the skills needed for the position.
Blockchain to track intellectual property and reward the use and reuse of that property.
Due to the complexity of intellectual property tracking, it is very difficult for self-publishing writers to follow the reuse of their intellectual property, especially due to its cost and the functioning of the specialized institution. In addition, in the case of leveraging open educational resources, they are rarely tracked, and if you do, it is through simple metrics with limited use.
Educators can use blockchain to transmit their post and record the reference they used, allowing evidence of the publication date for copyright issues and the opportunity to track any specific resources that reuse the post.
While there are systems for tracking appointments, they require intermediaries who place high access costs in exchange for limits on the use and exchange of items. When using blockchain, intermediaries will be removed, allowing anyone to publish openly and track usage accurately and without restrictions. In addition, it will allow teachers to be rewarded based on the use and use of their publications.
Blockchain can also be used to transmit publishing resources and coins can be delivered to teachers according to the level of reuse of their resources.
Receive student payments through Blockchain.
Currently, students pay for their education using a specific currency, such as dollars or pesos, but blockchain-based cryptocurrencies such as bitcoins can also be accepted.
Although this app might seem distant, it could be very beneficial as many students do not always have a bank account or credit card, either because of their age, country, working status, etc., making it difficult for them to pay for their education. Cryptocurrency-based payments can be a solution to this problem, the only requirement is that both the student and the institution have a system to receive and send cryptocurrencies.
Use of verified absolute identities for the identification of students within educational institutions.
Students who attend a large university or educational institution also need to be regularly identified in different parts of the institution, such as to enter the library, gym, dormitories, etc. In these cases, many people can access a student’s personal information, so keeping that information secure can be a big advantage. Especially when it comes to managing access rights for each employee and that each device is protected from piracy.
By using blockchain as a verified absolute identity, in addition to the student, the only person responsible for verifying the identity of the same has access to the data. In addition, your organization no longer must spend resources on managing the complex system to keep a student’s data safe, you only need to protect the device or network where the initial verification was performed.
Unfortunately, the use of blockchain technology in education is still at a pilot stage, but it has the potential to launch a wave of innovation around student and organization data.
But these benefits can only be achieved through the open use of blockchain, which uses an open-source system, open data standards and applies autonomous data management solutions. To achieve this, the development and application of this technology in education must be seen as a shared competence, to ensure a balance between the private sector and the public interest.
Grech, A. y Camilleri, A. F. (2017) Blockchain en Educación. Inamorato dos Santos, A. (ed.) EUR 28778 EN; doi: 10.2760 / 60649