The education system as we know it today has remained largely unchanged for over a century. However, with the rise of new technologies like blockchain and artificial intelligence, the education sector is poised for major disruptions and innovations.
Blockchain technology, in particular, has the potential to greatly impact and transform learning and education in the coming years. From storing educational records to enabling new models of learning, blockchain offers solutions to many existing challenges in education.
In this article, we will explore how blockchain technology will shape and change education in the future. We will look at the key ways blockchain will impact core education processes like content delivery, learning analytics, credentialing and payments. We will also examine some current blockchain projects and initiatives aimed at transforming the education sector.
How Blockchain Works and Its Key Attributes
Before looking at the impact of blockchain on education, it is important to understand what blockchain technology is and its main features.
A blockchain is essentially a distributed, decentralized digital ledger that records transactions or data securely in a verifiable and permanent way. Some of the key attributes of blockchain technology are:
- Decentralized – Blockchain does not rely on a central authority or third party to validate transactions. The records are distributed across a peer-to-peer network.
- Transparent – All transactions on a blockchain are visible to the participants. This enhances trust and accountability.
- Secure – Cryptographic principles like hashing make blockchain very difficult to tamper with. Data recorded is tamper-proof.
- Verifiable – Transactions can be verified easily by participants on a blockchain network. This maintains integrity of data.
- Immutable – Any data recorded on blockchain cannot be altered, ensuring permanence of records.
These features make blockchain highly useful for managing records, identities, certificates and payments in a trusted manner. As we will see, these characteristics have great relevance for transforming education services.
How Blockchain Will Impact Education
Blockchain technology has the potential to disrupt traditional education models and systems. Here are some of the key ways blockchain will impact education:
Enabling Lifelong Learner Profiles
One significant impact of blockchain on education will be enabling verifiable lifelong learner profiles that record all educational achievements by a student throughout their lifespan. This is possible by creating portable and permanent records of achievements on a blockchain.
Some benefits of lifelong learner profiles include:
- Students can consolidate all their certificates, credentials and achievements earned from different institutions over time in a single verified profile.
- Prospective employers can easily verify candidates’ qualifications listed on their blockchain-based learner profiles.
- Admission officers in higher education institutes can seamlessly verify applicants’ past academic records for admissions.
- Learners can supplement their profiles with additional records like completed courses, workshops, hackathons, bootcamps etc.
- Profiles can aid personalized and adaptive learning by tracking individual student’s learning over time.
Blockchain has the potential to transform the credentialing process in education by enabling decentralized issuing and verification of certificates and digital diplomas.
Key benefits include:
- Educational certificates issued on blockchain will be tamper-proof, reducing risk of fraudulent credentials.
- Prospective employers or colleges can easily verify authenticity of candidate’s credentials by checking the blockchain.
- Instant verification will eliminate tedious verification processes via emails, calls or in-person.
- Blockchain credentialing will prevent issues like degree fraud which is prevalent in many countries.
- Universities can issue additional blockchain records like merit certificates, participation certificates etc. besides degree certificates.
- Even traditional paper degrees can be given blockchain-verifiable digital companions.
Changing How We Produce and Consume Educational Content
Blockchain will facilitate new models of creating, accessing and paying for learning content. Education content platforms based on blockchain will have features like:
- Content creators like teachers can upload and sell digital learning resources like articles, videos, ebooks etc. and get micropayments directly from consumers.
- Learners can access content by making marginal payments and not pay for full expensive textbooks.
- Publishers and content creators can track usage and earnings in a transparent manner.
- Plagiarism will be prevented as content usage will be trackable on blockchain.
- Top educators can create premium paid content that learners worldwide can purchase. This can supplement educator’s income.
Overall, blockchain will enable transparent and decentralized content marketplaces in education with benefit for both creators and consumers.
Enhancing Learning Analytics
Blockchain’s transparent ledger system can dramatically improve learning analytics around students’ academic performances. Some applications include:
- Students’ learning data like test performance, assignment submissions, grades etc. can be recorded on blockchain to generate lifelong academic analytics.
- Data can be analyzed to discern learning patterns and customize education. Students who need special attention can be identified.
- Students’ learning analytics can be provided to parents to allow monitoring their child’s academic progress.
- Analytics from blockchain learning data can help improve course structures and teaching methods.
- Students will be motivated to perform when they know records like grades are permanently logged.
Thus blockchain will enable advanced learning analytics to improve both learning and teaching.
Blockchain solutions can greatly simplify cumbersome admin processes involved in running academic institutions. Key benefits:
- Academic records on blockchain will eliminate manual paper record-keeping. This will save costs and efforts.
- Admissions management will be faster by eliminating manual verification of documents.
- Authentication of identities, submission of assignments, payments etc. will become easier.
- Overall processes will become more efficient, transparent and secure.
Thus blockchain will enable leaner and digital administration of academic institutions.
Blockchain brings advantages to education-related payments like:
- Fees payments can happen via cryptocurrencies, eliminating banking hassles.
- Transparent ledger simplifies accounting and reconciliation of payments.
- Students abroad can easily pay fees by transferring cryptocurrency.
- Micropayments become feasible enabling new models like pay-per-view of content.
Thus blockchain will facilitate domestic and international payments for educational services in a secure manner.
Enabling New Pedagogical Models
Blockchain technology offers the scope to explore new pedagogical models and ways of learning:
- Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs) can enable new models of community learning without central authority.
- Smart contracts over blockchain can track assignment submissions and even automatically evaluate them based on pre-defined criteria.
- Gamification can be integrated with blockchains to motivate learning and incentivize academic achievements.
- The transparency of blockchain encourages learners to keep records that can aid self-directed and personalized learning.
Current Projects Exploring Blockchain in Education
Many projects today are already exploring the use of blockchain technology to transform learning and education. Some notable examples include:
Sony Global Education Develops Educational Platform
Sony Global Education, a subsidiary of Sony, has developed a educational platform in partnership with IBM that uses blockchain to secure, share and analyze academic records and data. It aims to improve learning analytics.
MIT Issues Digital Certificates to Over 200K Learners on Blockchain
MIT has issued blockchain-based digital certificates to over 200,000 learners on its edX platform. Learners can share their tamper-proof certificates with potential employers.
University of Nicosia in Cyprus Issues Academic Credentials on Blockchain
University of Nicosia in Cyprus is recording and verifying academic credentials issued to students on the Bitcoin blockchain. It also offers a MSc degree program in digital currencies.
Learning Machine Provides Blockchain Credentials to Learners
Learning Machine is a software company providing blockchain-based credentialing solutions to institutions like Dallas County Community College District, University of Melbourne and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Odem Enables Decentralized Education Marketplace
Odem is building a decentralized education marketplace based on Ethereum blockchain that allows educators to create paid online courses and get directly paid by students in cryptocurrency.
Woolf University Aims to be First Blockchain-Based University
Woolf University aims to become the first decentralized, blockchain-based online university. It plans to use blockchain for operations including admissions, records, payments and credentialing.
Challenges in Adopting Blockchain in Education
While blockchain technology shows much promise for revolutionizing education, some key challenges need to be addressed:
- Regulators must provide clear guidelines on legality of blockchain-based academic records and credentials.
- Users like students, teachers and parents may resist adopting new systems and require extensive training.
- Blockchain platforms need to be customized for compliance with regional education policies and laws.
- Issues of data privacy and protection may arise from permanent storage of academic records on blockchain.
- Scalability has to be robust enough to store academic achievements of students across educational lifespans.
- Suitable incentives may be required initially to motivate students and teachers to record achievements over blockchain.
The Future of Education with Blockchain
In the coming decade, we will see massive changes in the education sector driven by blockchain technology. Some potential future scenarios are:
All mainstream schools, colleges and universities will maintain learner profiles and issue credentials on blockchain. This will eliminate fake degrees and resumes.
Decentralized education platforms will enable anyone to teach or write educational content and directly earn from thousands of learners across the world.
With records on blockchain, students will be motivated to build strong academic portfolios from a young age for future career growth.
Analytics from blockchain data will enable customized and personalized learning trajectories for each student.
Admissions and hiring will happen seamlessly with easy online verification of candidates’ backgrounds from their blockchain-based profiles.
New decentralized models of learning, teaching and content-creation will become mainstream thanks to blockchain technology.
Blockchain technology has huge potential to bring groundbreaking changes to education in the coming years. It promises to introduce trust, transparency, decentralization and innovation in delivering education. While some challenges exist, blockchain solutions suited for education systems can enable new paradigms for learning that benefit students as well as educators. Adoption of blockchain in education is expected to pick up pace over the next decade. The future of learning with blockchain looks very promising and transformational.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Here are 5 frequently asked questions about the future of education and blockchain technology:
How will blockchain technology impact student records and data?
Blockchain will enable creation of secure, permanent digital records that consolidate all academic achievements of students throughout their education lifespan. This will eliminate fraudulent records and ease verification of qualifications.
How can blockchain help transform credentialing and degrees in education?
Blockchain will allow issuing tamper-proof digital certificates, diplomas and degrees. Prospective employers or colleges can seamlessly verify authenticity and validity of candidates’ credentials using blockchain.
What are the benefits of blockchain for educational content?
Blockchain will facilitate new models for creating and accessing educational content. Creators can distribute content directly to learners and earn payments via blockchain-powered marketplaces. This will supplement incomes. Learners can access affordable paid content.
How will blockchain improve administration of academic institutions?
Blockchain will significantly streamline cumbersome administrative processes like enrolment, record-keeping, identity management and payments. It brings transparency, security and efficiency to education administration.
What are some challenges in adopting blockchain technology in education?
Key challenges include lack of regulatory clarity, resistance to new systems from stakeholders like educators and parents, scalability issues, and concerns regarding data privacy and security. However, these can be addressed by designing customized blockchain solutions for education.