Blockchain is widely known as part of the finance industry. It already revolutionizing it, making investments and loans worldwide accessible. But can it repeat the same fate in other industries, like education? Yes, definitely!
In this article, I want to share how blockchain revolutionized education making it accessible to everyone. This technology can also tailor the learning experience, making it more engaging, and opening up the possibilities of lifelong learning. Want to find out more ways how new technology can bring life into the stagnated education industry? Keep reading about the history and future of blockchain and education.
Understanding Blockchain in Education
Blockchain is slowly but surely changing every industry in our world. The education sector is no exception. It’s hard to find verifiable information or the source entity, especially in liberal studies.
Blockchain technology can solve this and many other education industry challenges. Here data is stored in encrypted blocks linked in the endless chain. Each block contains a timestamp, transaction data, and a unique identifier (a hash). This structure ensures the immutability of data, as any alteration to a block would affect its hash, disrupting the entire chain.
You can use blockchain in education to make tamper-free educational records. These records can store anything: scientific records, achievements, references to info outside the blockchain, etc.
You can set up a blockchain-based learning management system (LMS) that can provide a secure and transparent platform for sharing educational resources, tracking student progress, and managing academic records. It would promote institutional collaboration, facilitate lifelong learning, and streamline administrative processes. It will also improve the lives of international students, as universities can easily transmit information about student academic achievements.
Blockchain can facilitate the creation of decentralized educational marketplaces where learners can purchase educational content. Once they complete the course or master class, they can add this achievement to the greater system.
But as of early 2024, this international blockchain-based education system is just a dream of the crypto enthusiasts community. However, it can become true during the next 10-15 years. Read this article to find out how the blockchain community can achieve it.
Current State of Blockchain in Education
As I said before, this international blockchain-based system currently is a crypto enthusiast's dream. Blockchain is still in its early stages of development. Thus institutions don’t rush to adopt this technology. They need to see how independent educational companies will implement decentralized ledgers into their workflow. Only after that, we may see a gradual institutional adoption.
However, there are several pioneering initiatives demonstrating blockchain potential in educational systems.IBM's Blockchain for Education and Sony Global Education is one of the most well-known tech collaborations for educational purposes. They wanted to develop a transparent platform to track students' learning progress, as well as establish transparency and accountability of scholastic achievements between students and schools. Unfortunately, it is still under development, so we can’t test this system in real life.
MIT is known as one of the most tech-savvy universities in the world. They are known as the first university to use the Internet ancestor, ARPANET. Thus, naturally, they were the first university to test blockchain education tools. They initiated the Digital Credentials Consortium to achieve institutional adoption of verifiable digital credentials back in 2018 when blockchain was just a small industry for a geek community.
Key Benefits of Blockchain for Education
As I said previously, blockchain can revolutionize the education sector. This technology is decentralized and transparent, so all records will be publicly verifiable and tamper-proof. It eliminates the risk of fraud, data manipulation, and retrospective record alteration.
Students can control their educational data and share different ownership levels with institutions. It will combat diploma mills and ensure that individuals are recognized for their true achievements.
Blockchain technology also can facilitate the creation of personalized learning experiences tailored to individual student needs. Modern AI-based tools can track the current user preferences and progress on the chain. Once the AI tool gathers needed info it can provide tailored recommendations that help users to become even more educated.
The last benefit of blockchain is financial inclusion. This technology can facilitate secure and transparent financial transactions for educational purposes, such as managing student loans, scholarships, and financial aid disbursements.
Innovative Use Cases of Blockchain in Education
There are already multiple successful real-life examples of blockchain implementation in real life. The Cyprus-based University of Nicosia offers its open-source blockchain platform to verify educational digital certificates even from other educational institutions. They publish the document’s fingerprint on the blockchain to sync your document with the Bitcoin chain.
Blockchain-based learning management systems can provide a secure and transparent platform for sharing educational resources, tracking student progress, and managing academic records. We can see how Open Source University promotes this approach in the scientific community.
Another great real-life example is the BitDegree service. It’s an online education platform that uses blockchain and gamification to provide a unique learning experience. Students can earn tokens for completing courses and achieving milestones. Later, they can exchange those tokens on the preferable exchange. There are free and paid courses, so users can choose whether they like.
Challenges and Considerations
Unfortunately, our world is not prone to innovation. So people tend to stick with old choices. The education industry is the pinnacle of this rule. Thus, poor adoption is the main challenge of blockchain solutions there.
There are only two types of institutions that are gladly experimenting with new tools: established tech-savvy top universities or new private online education businesses. Crypto-education services should understand it and consider those two target audiences as their primary options.
Another huge challenge is a privacy concern. Blockchain's transparency can conflict with the need to protect sensitive student data. Balancing transparency with privacy regulations and ensuring data protection is complex but non-negotiable. Blockchain companies should stick with the local laws of each country where they work.
Another major challenge for education blockchain is current technological barriers. This technology is still in its early stages, so it may have some scalability issues and a lack of protocols to implement new tools into existing educational institutions’ workflow.
We also should understand the poor level of digital literacy of older generations that still work as professors. Thus, it may take years or even decades to replace them with tech-savvy masters who are aware of the decentralized concept.
The long-term sustainability and cost-effectiveness of blockchain-based solutions will change the education industry. With this technology, they will no longer need to store students’ and professors’ work on the physical USB drives that can easily get lost.
It’s one of the author’s pain points since during my university years, my jobs often “get lost”. So I had to “donate” multiple USBs for a single coursework. I truly hope that blockchain finally ends this practice for good!
The Future of Blockchain in Education
I see the blockchain future in the education industry as prospering in the long run. However, we still need to overcome many challenges in the next few years. Blockchain's ability to create tamper-proof and transparent records will lead to efficient and reliable data management. Advanced privacy-preserving techniques can help protect sensitive student data.
Blockchain-powered learning platforms will leverage data analytics and artificial intelligence capabilities. New students will get tailored adaptive learning experiences that fit their needs and interests. It boosts lifelong learning for those who no longer want to repeat university experience but still want a verifiable education.
Blockchain-based tokens will reward learners for completing courses, contributing to the community, or demonstrating skills and competencies. It will create a new economy in the education community that values scientists for their knowledge with material stimulus even at the beginning of their careers.
Students and young professors will get more control over their data. They will get the chance to share information publicly without having to pay their university hundreds of dollars for the short 2-3 page publication. New technology can also streamline administrative processes, providing even more transparency and reducing the costs of educational governance. It will boost cross-border education and international scientific collaborations.
Preparing for a Blockchain-Driven Educational Future
If we want to integrate blockchain into education services, we should try our best to make this technology user-friendly. Companies should develop user-friendly apps and educate decision-makers about blockchain benefits. It means that tech companies should become sponsors of various educational events and be bold in designing and conducting their education-aimed activities.
During these events, they should nurture a growth mindset and willingness to adapt in the institutional decision-makers. Educatory bodies should be open to new ideas. That’s the only way to make a blockchain a vital part of the education industry.
On the other hand, institutions should establish a clear vision and strategy for blockchain adoption. Educational institutions should develop a clear vision and strategy for adopting blockchain technology, outlining the goals, objectives, and timeline for implementation. It will set up the correct path for the crypto business, so they can start developing tools directly for institutions. It speeds up the adoption process as universities and colleges will get the needed tools.
To clear the policy landscape, institutions should establish clear policies and procedures for the governance of blockchain-based systems. It will address critical issues such as data privacy, decision-making, and dispute resolution.
I think blockchain will revolutionize the education sector by promoting innovations even to the old-style boomer professors. It will provide secure, transparent, and tamper-proof records, transforming the way we manage education. It will also streamline administrative processes, and empower learners with ownership of their data.
Education will become even more personalized with blockchain-based learning platforms. These services will tailor the experience depending on the current student's needs and interests. Micro-credentials and skill-based recognition will facilitate lifelong learning and enable learners to showcase their competencies effectively.
As of today, there are just a few universities that are experimenting with blockchain. However, this situation is similar to the invention of the internet. For the first 5-10 years it was just a communication method between a dozen of the most tech-savvy universities. Blockchain will meet the same fate: it will become a common practice in the education industry. Blockchain will play a pivotal role in shaping the future, fostering innovation, international collaboration, and empowerment in the educational landscape.