Many people know Blockchain for its use with cryptocurrencies. However, Blockchain has enormous potential in many, many industries, among which is education.
To understand the impact of this technology on the Education Industry , it is important to understand what Blockchain is .
Blockchain is a database distributed among a large number of computers . This means that the data stored in this database does not depend on a central server, but that all the computers that are linked to the network guarantee the security and immutability of the information.
Blockchain arises from the need to generate trust through the internet (for example when making an online money transfer), which until now was impossible to do without the action of an intermediary, such as a bank. The intermediaries, although they were fundamental in this role, have access to our private information, and they usually charge high commissions.
One of the innovations it proposes is Smart Contracts . These are similar to traditional contracts, but written in code. Rather than requiring an intermediary for certain operations, it is technology that provides that confidence. These contracts execute actions automatically when other predefined actions happen (“if x happens, then y happens”).
Blockchain also allows tokenization. A token is a way to digitally represent a physical asset. It is the first time that it is allowed to generate digital scarcity, and therefore represent valuable objects that are unique.
Next we will analyze in greater detail how all this impacts on Education.
Registration of titles, certificates, diplomas, credentials.
The registration of titles, certificates, diplomas, credentials is probably the best known use of blockchain for education. Remember that Blockchain is an immutable database. Therefore, recording this information on the blockchain can guarantee that the titles cannot be forged. You can no longer make a forgery, for example with photoshop or emails, because what guarantees the existence of this is a web address where we can see its existence.
At the same time, possible losses or hacking of databases are prevented , which were previously centralized by educational education, and therefore susceptible to interventions, either from external persons, or even from malicious persons internal to the organization. Blockchain leaves a record of each modification in the database, so that any fraud attempt is quickly visible.
This if we think about it further, gives students the real power and possession of their degrees. The University is no longer required to validate the degrees, because they are available online.
The student can generate almost like an academic history (if we make an analogy with clinical health records, I really do not know if this term exists in education), but in these academic histories it is possible to record all the titles that a person is achieving at the same time. throughout its life, centralized, certified and immutable.
And as if that were not enough, this type of registration also streamlines processes that are now carried out manually, such as academic transcripts, and can today be exposed to human errors.
MIT, for example, began to use the Bitcoin Blockchain to award digital diplomas. They used this platform called Blockcerts , which is an open platform that allows to easily issue certificates leaving a record forever in the blockchain, and in turn verify these certifications in a simple way for future employers.
It is interesting that these platforms work with a logic where everyone has access to the blockchain. First, the institution or school that issues the certificate; then the student who receives it; and thirdly, the companies or employers that can verify it.
The student “owns” their degree , and this would make the need to write to universities asking for certified degrees, etc., obsolete. Something that nowadays generates a huge and super manual workload for institutions. And, like any manual process, it is exposed to potential human errors.
Discipline is a platform that allows students to centralize these titles to create this academic record.
Processes and transparency
On the other hand, Blockchain also brings an improvement in processes and transparency . It allows to simplify the accreditation of academic institutions by providing certification to these accreditations, as was the case with academic degrees. This in turn allows to verify the quality and qualification of the institutions and professors.
It is also possible to use Blockchain to certify the contents of a course, facilitating the comparison of equivalences between institutions.
In turn, the excuse that the teacher has missed our homework ceases to exist: this technology brings transparency in the registration of homework submissions, and we will have certainty about whether we have completed a delivery or not.
Ultimately, all these applications bring us a streamlining and automation of processes that today are manual and therefore risk human error, such as the translation of academic titles or transcripts.
Another interesting way to apply Blockchain in educational processes is in what has to do with gamification .
We can imagine lessons and courses that use smart contracts that run automatically when certain conditions are met. For example, courses with contents that are unlocked as we progress, or even careers where various subjects are unlocked when we finish the correlatives.
Tokens can also be used to deliver credits or points against tasks performed , allowing to integrate this logic more of a game to what is an educational career.
Blockchain can generate an innovation also when it comes to financing education. Students and professors or institutions could generate smart contracts that stipulate dates for student loan or student loan payments , avoiding the workload that today falls on institutions of validating whether a payment was made or requiring students to remember to do so.
And not to mention the possibility of paying in cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, a very interesting alternative, especially for international courses, an increasingly strong trend hand in hand with online education. Making an international payment is often very expensive, takes longer than usual, or has extra taxes.
Cryptocurrencies make these international payments much easier. In fact, one of the great uses of cryptocurrencies is to send remittances from people who live abroad and in this way send money to their families in their countries of origin.
In 2014, 6 years ago, the King College of New York announced that it was beginning to accept Bitcoin as a payment method.
On the other hand, BitDegree is an online course platform that allows obtaining “peer to peer” scholarships, between people directly without the need for an organization to manage it.
It allows prospective students to apply by telling their story and why they are applying for the scholarship, and donors can read these stories and decide who to fund. Without intermediaries, and with the transparency and security of knowing that the donated silver reached its destination.