Blockchain is synonymous with Bitcoin. However, it not limited to that. There are other cryptocurrencies too, but Bitcoin remains the undisputed cryptocurrency, upholding the superior-tech prowess of blockchain.
The technology is transforming various industries including healthcare, logistics, etc. It’s seldom that we hear about the technology making an impact in the education industry. The technology isn’t behind making a dent in the sector.
Essentially, blockchain is a digital and distributed ledger of records. Inherently, each record (referred to as ‘block’) is a permanent time-stamped record connected to the last record, visible to an entire network on the blockchain. Any changes made to a block are reflected next to the block, visible to everyone on the network. This characteristic of blockchain alone lends the technology sort of a superpower for various applications — immutability, data security, transparency, and unmatchable large data storage capacity, making it a solution to share student data extensively in collaboration.
Making education more transparent with blockchain
Higher education is replete with interruptions and mostly disconnected. Blockchain
1. With blockchain, education records of millions of students can be shared among numerous institutions. It can include information from various sources including online certifications, extra-curricular activities, exam results, and other learning experiences. It would act like a digital CV that can’t be tampered with.
- It would facilitate the sharing of data, exchange, and validation of student data among institutions. The blockchain could be private with an institution overseeing the processing of a block, or several institutions/universities can form a consortium where every institution has access to student data.
3. Data sharing can facilitate transferring credits and help with authenticating credentials for employment.
4. Further, blockchain can aid educator certification, credentialing and re-certification
5. Managing and tracking school assets such as property, transport, furniture, journal, textbooks, and technology will easier with blockchain technology.
6. Student privacy can be maintained with parental opt-in/opt-out permission
7. Provision student loan and other financial and non –financial aid
Blockchain so far …
Blockchain in education has come a long way. Not yet in applications yet, but innovation and development. Several companies have developed innovative ways to aid their operations in education with the help of blockchain.
- MIT Media Lab announced the development of software to issue digital certificates on the Bitcoin Blockchain.
- Holberton school provides academic credentials in collaboration with Bitproof, a blockchain-based notary that authenticates content ownership.
- Open Badges community that produces digital badges for the representation of skills and learning has started exploring ways to use Blockchain to make badges more advanced.
- Sony Global Education has developed Blockchain to facilitate the safe exchange of academic records.
This is a piece of the larger pie of uses cases of blockchain in education. Given the complexity and inconvenience of sharing education-related data and other learning mediums, blockchain poses a good solution.
However, the technology comes with its own challenges. The transaction time is long. It still relies on public and private keys to track transactions permanently and safely. Bitcoin, for instance, processes two to three transactions in a second, while Ethereum processes 20-30 transactions in a second. Thus, scaling blockchain is a challenge, and prohibits blockchain from mass adoption.
The limited supply of developers is another acute challenges. For every new technology, it takes time for developers to adopt it and universities and colleges to introduce relevant courses.
Blockchain is still in its infancy, so a supply of blockchain developers is limited. Measures such as blockchain certifications online and courses are available which are catering to the needs of those who are willing to learn.
Further, blockchain is highly energy-intensive. The energy consumed by Bitcoin could reach as much as Denmark’s total electricity consumption by 2020. Blockchain uses ‘proof-of-work’ for validating transactions. It requires users to solve complex puzzles that consume energy and therefore, it is a challenge to adopt blockchain for a longer or extended period of time.
Blockchain has paved the way for innovation in all sectors including education. Certain challenges hold it from being used at large scale. As blockchain scales, the education industry will see the transformation it deserves.