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Exploring the potential of blockchain technology in education

On 12 Jan 2023

The term blockchain is typically associated with cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. On a blockchain, data is stored in blocks that are linked chronologically, which makes it easier to trace their origins and verify their authenticity. The technology’s decentralized nature, coupled with these features, has led to its adoption across several industries, most notably the financial sector. By 2023, global spending on blockchain technology is expected to reach $14 billion across all industries, according to International Data Corporation (IDC).

Education is an industry where blockchain is just beginning to make a mark. Blockchain technology is still in its infancy in education, with only a few institutions adopting it. According to a Gartner survey conducted in 2019, only 2% of higher education institutions use blockchain, while 18% planned on doing so in the next two years.

Institutions that have adopted blockchain currently use it primarily to store and share academic records. The technology, however, could revolutionize education in a number of ways, according to researchers: enhancing opportunities for lifelong learning, creating greater efficiency for educators through smart contracts, and offering students ownership of their academic records, among others. The use of blockchain in education is likely to increase as the technology continues to evolve.

Blockchain has clearly been identified as the primary use case for credential storage and verification. A blockchain can be used to store and issue diplomas, certificates, and degrees.

As a result, people are also prevented from submitting fake degrees to employers, a situation that unfortunately occurs all too often. Fraudulent degrees are constantly being forged by skilled forgers using new techniques to ensure they cannot be detected. The blockchain can issue unique digital assets that verify academic credentials.

Besides credential verification, blockchain is also used in education and recruitment. They live in multiple universities at the moment. To give you a better idea of how Blockchains are being used by other countries, let’s take a closer look at some of them.

Student Records

Blockchain is being adopted by many universities around the world as the perfect way to store, track, and use students’ credentials. Students and learners have easy access to their records and can share them securely with potential employers. Employers also don’t have to go through their extensive background verification processes to confirm the student’s/applicant’s achievements.

Direct access to the student’s records on the blockchain will save time and give a complete picture of their skills and background. The best part is that these records are not stored on university servers, but on the blockchain, where they are completely controlled by the learners. It is easy for them to access these records whenever they need them.

Additionally, universities and recruiters do not have to spend their time building blockchains from scratch. Blockchain companies facilitate the transition. The Ethereum blockchain, for example, facilitates the storage of data as well as the deployment of smart contracts if a university chooses to do so.

Students often request the course contents of a certification as another type of student record. In many cases, university or school course contents differ from one another. As an example, Blockchain Technology as a subject may vary between schools. Recruiters and schools must understand what knowledge the candidate possesses in this case.

Using blockchain technology and storing all of this information about the student makes it easier for all parties involved. It becomes easier to store, retrieve, and verify data while maintaining complete accuracy. Students’ records are safe in blockchains despite natural calamities, wars, and server failures.

Blockchain’s role in E- Transcripts

With the ease of verification comes the brilliant possibility of ETranscripts. No matter where in the world you are, students are quite familiar with the slow processing times and high fees involved in obtaining transcripts for college or job applications. Producing transcripts is the most labour-intensive and time-consuming task in academic institutions around the world.

It is necessary to manually verify each entry in a transcript to ensure accuracy. In 2020, most institutions still use outdated methods for sending and receiving transcripts, such as physical mail.

Using distributed ledger technology and its solutions, these procedures could be streamlined and fraudulent claims of unearned credits could be minimized. Using blockchain technology to store confidential information, like independent grades of a student, in a tamper-proof manner can certainly prove to be a miracle for institutions. The system benefits not only educational institutions, but also recruiters and manpower agencies by simplifying the vetting process.

Badges

The typical resume of a job seeker contains more information than just credentials, degrees & diplomas. Knowledge related to a person’s profession, such as technical skills or foreign language abilities. In many cases, people who are certified in one profession have many other skills that can benefit recruiters or universities evaluating their applications. It is often difficult to verify these additional skills. However, if a third party can verify the skill and grant a badge or certificate, it becomes much easier to prove. A blockchain can be used to store these badges, making them even more convenient for candidates.

Blockchain’s role in cost-effective large storage of files

Digitized records, curricula, records, and degrees are one side of the coin. Blockchain and peer-to-peer systems are capable of much more than just storing credentials. University records can be migrated to decentralized and secure networks using the InterPlanetary File System (IPFS), a peer-to-peer storage system.

Bookkeeping, financial records, departmental records, and more are all part of this process. It facilitates the maintenance and retrieval of files whenever they are needed. Additionally, it facilitates effective auditing.

If stored conventionally, this can consume a lot of storage space. A local storage issue and its related issues bring us back to decentralization’s benefits. A major problem will arise if centralized servers are damaged or compromised in any way.

Cloud storage is an option, but the costs associated with it may not be affordable for many institutions. Therefore, we can see how blockchains can be used to store records in various ways. If institutions adopt blockchain technology for file storage, they can benefit financially and technologically.

Automated Learning Platforms

Smart Contracts and IPFS make it possible to store course content and make it easy to access it. Lessons or courses can be programmed into the blockchain to be automatically executed based on certain conditions. As a result of this functionality, new possibilities for automating lessons and courses become available.

Any university can now establish Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) quite easily, not just EdTech companies. This is how the entire learning process can be automated.

Suppose a teacher assigns a task to students. As soon as a student completes a task, the smart contract automatically verifies it. Teachers and students are rewarded with crypto tokens & credits for completing all tasks. Universities are currently looking into automating large, extensive courses, thereby saving time for students and teachers.

Blockchain-based active learning platforms connect students, academicians, content creators, and developers. Students can access study materials and share ideas & projects through these platforms as part of a university’s ecosystem. It will be even more productive with internal tokens, incentives, and rewards for individual contributions.

Memorable Relationships

Professor-student relationships last a lifetime. Getting the right advice at the right time helps students excel in their studies, get good grades, and complete their own assignments without needing help. Additionally, departments and professors can automate grading, tests, posting information about important events and lectures, giving specific access to confidential records, and more.

By automating regular tasks, students and teachers will have more time together, which will improve the quality of their relationships. There should be a strong emphasis on developing peer-professor relationships in every university. In the long run, failing to do so will negatively affect the reputation of that university.

Publishing and Child Protection

Multiple reasons have led to the rejection of many research papers in the last century. Although some of these papers and their authors ultimately won Nobel Prizes, the initial rejection for their publication is certainly a blow to many graduates, scholars, and subject matter experts.

Nevertheless, it is often difficult to publish this material. It is possible to change this situation with blockchain technology. By implementing blockchain technology, educational institutions can make it easier for their students and staff to publish their research. With a blockchain, new writers, researchers, and many others could gain entry into the industry without having to worry about their research being stolen. Using public key and private key formats, the owner of the publication can track who is accessing and when.

The dispersal of copyrighted material across the Internet can be controlled by blockchain systems. As the technology develops, the primary function will be to store the chain of information securely. Due to advanced encryption, this data cannot be altered manually once it has been stored. It allows access to academic materials in a secure manner. The owner can also control access to content by recording the usage in the chain. Utilization can be tracked online, and ownership is easily proven.

The role of blockchain in lowering education costs

By opening up new, more affordable learning pathways and disrupting existing school-student relationships, blockchain has the potential to transform the education landscape. It is a labor-intensive process that involves students, parents, scholarship foundations, private lenders, federal and state institutions, as well as university financial departments’ often-massive bureaucracy. As a result of blockchain technology, administrative overhead can be reduced, resulting in lower tuition costs. A pay-as-you-go model for open learning has already been deployed using smart contracts and cryptocurrency as a payment method.

A number of universities have begun accepting cryptocurrency as payment for tuition as well in the U.S. Millions of people may be interested in options to make a college education more affordable and accessible given the fact that student loan debt now totals more than $1.7 trillion in the U.S., according to the Federal Reserve.

Aside from its potential to promote lifelong learning, blockchain technology can also be used to provide widespread access to open educational resources, which are materials that exist in the public domain and can be freely used and distributed, such as books, podcasts, and videos. A public blockchain network enables the sharing of these resources cheaply and securely.

When payment is done via cryptocurrencies

With cryptocurrencies, transactions become easier. Students can pay universities on the other side of the world within seconds to minutes. Cryptocurrencies are accepted by several universities, including Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, the University of Nicosia, and King’s College in New York. This saves the universities a lot of money and avoids middlemen fees.

Conclusion

The technology is being studied by corporations and institutions alongside other leading technologies such as AI, IoT, ML, AR/VR, and more. Moreover, federated and hybrid blockchains have been added to the list of blockchains.

With blockchain technology growing rapidly, there are bound to be more Use Cases of Blockchain in the education industry. Recently, decentralized applications for robust security systems and infrastructure have been implemented in universities. Blockchain technology can be applied to a wide variety of challenges to achieve the best results.

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