Blockchain technology is to this period is what Steam Engine was to the Industrial Revolution. It’s leading the way for technological advancement, and it is omnipresent. The beauty and popularity of this piece of technology lie in its simplicity itself. In laymen’s terms, it is an electronic ledger.
It is encrypted in multiple layers, subject to continuous modification and verification, and completely decentralized where no single system involved, which is to say all systems involved act as a central unit. And the biggest merit of it is that it is completely transparent, albeit secure. A system opens to all with proper credentials and clearance.
One of the disciplines where Blockchain technology is extremely pragmatic is, funnily enough, the field of Education. The place where Blockchain has its most potential is indeed the place where books and information are of paramount importance.
The platform that blockchain provides to store, edit and broadcast information is currently used for serving many purposes and is predicted to revolutionize the field of education in the near future. Currently, it is used to issue and store certificates, check their validity, for open course circulation, evaluation, and storage of certificates etc. There are many real-life examples of this.
How’s Blockchain impacting the education sector – A Detailed Insight
Single schools, groups of schools and even groups of universities have come together to use blockchain as a shared platform for storing, authenticating and comparing certificates. For example, Holburton School in San Fransisco, MIT, and the University of Nicosia uses blockchain to store, verify and issue certificates. Paper copies issued to the holder of the certificate, along with Digital copies which are encrypted and stored in blockchain helps to prevent forgeries and fraud.
The same thing, on a much larger scale with a much broader scope is done by Universities coming together. Delft, Boston, ANU, UBC, and EPFL has decided to collaborate on certification, where they all will share the same platform, that is Blockchain to issue, accredit and store certificates. This will allow these universities and all affiliated bodies to come together in a codeshare like agreement and blockchain act as the scaffolding to do so. As a result, sharing of certificates between these universities become a lot easier and foolproof. This technology can be extended to form a national, or even international alliance of educational institutions, offering an easy, encrypted, tamper-proof and reliable means of certificate sharing. A National or Global Blockchain Database is not far off in the future.
This aspect of Blockchain as a means of Certification is remarkably suited for open courses and badges as well. Many prestigious universities like Harvard, MIT etc provide MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) which help education reach all corners of the world. This era of Online Education can be ushered in faster and more efficiently. These online courses can be fruitful with the right means for recognition and Blockchain can provide just that. Major providers of Open Courses can cooperate to provide degrees through Blockchain, which would not only make them safer and fraud-proof but also more valid, even if not as valid as actual degrees. If this happens, then these universities can discuss the terms of standardisation of the MOOC degrees, which will then, in time match the quality of an actual university degree since they’re being monitored and validated by multiple universities at a time. Hence, these degrees will have the same credibility as university degrees and can help widen the reach of education to places which don’t have these eminent universities.
Going beyond conventional education, Corporate and Professional Learning can also be largely improved by the addition of Blockchain technology. The purpose of this form of education is to improve the quality of work done by employees by providing them with coaching and training in their field of work. This opportunity is usually passed up by many employees, one of the major reasons being the lack of certification for them which can be added to their resume. But given the capacity of Blockchain to function as an electronic databank for these certificates, the idea of creating a program connected to this database, which monitors the attendance and performance of an individual in said classes, mark them and provide them with valid certificates, it will encourage them to take up these classes and significantly improve the quality of existing workforce.
Also related to the Education industry is the subject of internships. These are necessary to ensure that a student gets experience in their field of study during or post education. These are opportunities which allow the students to see and work in places which is related to their discipline, giving them a taste of how the theory they learn is applied in real life. An integral part of an Education, these also come with certificates and other associated documents which goes on a student’s CV as Work/Internship experience and hence, need to be acquired and authenticated. By introducing Blockchains, the flow of this information can be done seamlessly and securely, preventing frauds that prevail in the field today.
What’s in store?
This technology, of course, has future scope beyond anything the field has ever seen. The advancements in this field can result in novel advancement in the Education industry. The current applications are largely based on how safe and easy Blockchain technology is as a storage space. The future will see it bringing another one of its key features to the table- Decentralization. This technology will help decentralize the education sector in a huge way, taking it from inside classrooms of colleges to maybe even the homes of the students. The fact that they are a secure ledger for certificates, constantly edited and monitored by all the systems that are a part of it is a validation of its capabilities and reliability. It is only a matter of time before knowledge, study material itself begin to enter the flow.
The information stored on Blockchain can be accessed, edited and verified by all systems which form a link in the network, thus enabling the populace to act as the regulators of this information. This ensures that the data uploaded is completely accurate and forms a reliable data bank from which people can gather and study information. This will drastically change the way education is spread all over the globe, helping the masses have access to the kind of education, that otherwise would be restricted to closed classrooms of colleges, which may not be accessible to them. They will have the means to get the knowledge and study themselves, and a place to keep their certificates too. This will immensely improve the literacy rate of the entire world and would help create a large force of educated people who would otherwise remain poor, illiterate and unemployed.
Also, the advent of blockchain could also result in people having much easier access to their certificates, which would now be available online for anyone with the proper credentials. This would make it effortless for people, as they now have much less hassle dealing with all their paperwork. They could simply just get them online.
Blockchain technology is something that must be a part of the education industry. The role it can play as a ledger remains a rough diamond, full of untapped potential. The amount of good it would do to the industry is equal to the way e-books reformed reading, if not more. This is the new steam engine that will propel the industry into heights never obtained before.