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Blockchain & Education

Blockchain Technology and the Education System

Education is one of the key areas of focus in most developed countries as advancement in other sector hinges on the level of education. Regardless of the marked improvement in technology, there is still a need to focus more on developing human resources through learning, and blockchain makes this easier to achieve.

Similar to the other sectors that currently utilize the blockchain technology for enhancing their services and processes, we can predict how it will work for the education sector. While there is potential for a vast use in the education sector, it's going to be exciting to use. Several countries have keyed into this and make plans to adopt the use of blockchain technology to improve their educational institutions.

There is a possibility to have smart classrooms in the distant future, and it's predicted that blockchain tech will play a significant role in making this happen. The most popular vital currency globally is bitcoin with its value peaking at an excess of $19,000 per coin.

Aside from its value, another striking uniqueness about the bitcoin is its unique type of network. Its network helps to curb the menace of cybersecurity which is why it's widely used in several sectors such as healthcare and finance. It has also begun to find its way into the education sector and our classrooms at large.

Education as an essential sector of every countries economy has several areas that could be improved upon with the blockchain technology. The edtech market is rapidly growing, and global estimate pegs it to rise to about $93.76 billion worldwide by 2020.

Healthcare and Finance sector paving the Way for Enhanced Security in Schools

Nobody wants his or her information to be compromised in any way whatsoever, and parents have been so forceful to ensure this is adhered to in schools. However, despite their best efforts in ensuring this, there are still reported cases of records finding their way online every year.

The finance and healthcare sector have tolled this route before, and they have been able to find a way around this through the blockchain technology. It has set a clear road map for the education sector to also follow in guaranteeing the security of student's data in its possession through blockchain technology.

Although it might seem a bit slow while updating distributed ledger in Blockchain, but when compared with other digital means it's much faster. For instance, the use of Blockchain in healthcare has helped to cushion the effect of cybercrime in the industry. Shockingly, out of every 4 security breaches, 1 of it targets the healthcare sector which invariably affects about 1 out of every 13 patients in the US.

Hackers find healthcare data exceptionally valuable due to the personality and permanency it has. This has made many healthcares to consider blockchain technology for their data security. It is also believed that it will go a long way in ensuring the safety and integrity of data in the education sector.

Potential Use of Blockchain Technology in the Education Sector

Some of the potential sectors of the education where it may be used include the following:

Learning and Test Prep

One such platform is Disciplina designed by Russian developer where it harnesses the influence of blockchain technology for education and hiring. One of Disciplina's application is TeachMePlease which helps to link teachers and students in higher education.

Another emerging platform is a chatbot app designed by Opet Foundation to assist students in preparing for a test. Students can ask questions, and it gives the answers as well as recommended resources for further studies while helping students to keep track of learning progress through its blockchain technology.

Library and Information Services

The blockchain technology is widely noted for its ease of storing and tracking data; therefore it uses this functionality to store information in schools. Some school libraries are equipped with this technology, and it is already yielding positive results.

Transportation

Transportation also forms an integral part of education as students need to get to school on time. Blockchain technology can be incorporated into ridesharing apps to help students establish carpools for students that require this service. This is essential as we have more congested roadways, hence the need for carpools. It will also lessen the burden and stress on parents who need to find a safe and efficient means of transporting their child or ward to school.

Looking Toward the Future

There is still a lot of improvement to be made in the use of blockchain technology for the education sector as there are lots of questions to be answered. However, there is an endless possibility in what blockchain technology can achieve, and all school administrators need to start thinking about enhancing education with blockchain technology.

Singapore to commence a certification system in education using blockchain-based technology

This is a remarkable year in Singapore's education sector as the government commences issuing of blockchain certificates to graduates. Eighteen (18) higher institutions have been selected to kickstart the issuance of Blockchain verified digital certificates to its graduates.

Aside from its use in curtailing doctored certificates for employment purpose, OpenCertsalso provides better security, saves cost, and is more efficient. Certificate verification is carried out thorough Ethereum as details are saved in individuals file. This lessens the maintenance cost of a digital certificate.

OpenCerts is an open-source project backed by the government of Singapore. Its mandate is to ensure the technology is fully operational in the select 18 schools and thereafter move on to create numerous digital certificates in the near future. OpenCerts is one of its kind and the largest so far blockchain-related education application globally.

This digital certificate project is a collaborative work of four organizations namely:

  • Skills Future Singapore
  • Ministry of Education
  • Government Technology Agency
  • Ngee Ann Polytechnic

How is the certificate designed?

The certificate is built to last for the foreseeable future as it's tamper-proof since it's not designed like paper rather a random string of letters and numbers; then stored on Ethereum (decentralized Blockchain). If anyone attempts to alter the original certificate, a new hash will be created and can be easily detected when one compares the new hash with the original one.

There is going to be no need for the issuance of paper certificates with this new development as there is going to be a much efficient way of authenticating certificates. Instead of putting a call through to institution to verify a candidate's certificate, employers can just copy the job applicant's certificate onto OpenCerts website to verify its authenticity.

For Singaporean graduates with permanent residents, they can easily access their digital certificates online through government database known as Skills Passport.

The collaborative work has it in the plan to implement this for previously issued certificates. Due to the technologies open-source nature, companies can go commercial with it by enhancing the code base. For instance, at the moment OpenCerts verify certificates manually, but another startup can incorporate the tech into customer's backend systems.

There has also been interest in adopting this technology by foreign institutions outside Singapore.

Below is a list of the 18 local institutions selected to participate in the OpenCerts program:

  • Ngee Ann Polytechnic
  • SkillsFuture Singapore
  • Institute of Technical Education
  • Nanyang Polytechnic
  • National Institute of Early Childhood Development
  • Singapore University of Technology and Design
  • Temasek Polytechnic
  • National University of Singapore
  • Singapore Management University
  • Singapore University of Social Sciences
  • Republic Polytechnic
  • Singapore Institute of Technology
  • Nanyang Technological University
  • Singapore Polytechnic
  • Lasalle College of the Arts
  • Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts
  • Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board
  • Government Technology Agency

The Role Of Blockchain in Solving Education Sector Issues

Some of the role blockchain has to play in education sector includes:

Blockchain Replaces Paper

One of the most important features of blockchain tech in education is phasing out the use of paper document and adopts a safer means. For instance, we often experience a situation whereby someone loses a file or falsify a document; this won't happen again through blockchain technology integration.

As mentioned earlier, it would be impossible to alter information on certificates or important document and also makes it easy to access information once proper consent is gotten.

It will also build trust between employers and employee as they can verify the certifications submitted in real-time.

Blockchain for Saving

The blockchain technology in education goes beyond just having a piece of information on the computer; rather it has a more secure and encrypted format of storage which can be viewed by other interested parties without printing. With this technology, one can eliminate the printing of papers, certificate and all other documents thereby reducing cost and saving more.

Financing Education

Aside from the well-known use of Blockchain in cryptocurrency and financial services, it could also find its use in the education sector as there is a need to calculate student's scholarship, teachers' salaries, and provision of a transparent means of funding projects and grants.

Bitcoin technology can make Education Affordable

Blockchain can make use of its cost-effectiveness and accessibility to impact the education sector positively. It provides a more secure and decentralized information storage platform thereby costing the education administrators less amount on security and infrastructure to protect such information. Institutions don't need to spend big on data management as they used to in the past thereby reducing the overall cost of education.

Expanding MOOC

Recently, there has been an ascendency in the adoption of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC). About 101 million participants have registered for MOOC, and as of 2018, we have about 500 MOOC-based credentials. For instance, Udacity comprises of approximately 50,000 paid users while Coursera experienced a user increase of 70% in 2017.

This just shows that MOOCs users gain a lot from these online courses and the blockchain technology can leverage on this to provide ease of transaction for lesser payments.

OSU

More people are looking for other means to get educated at a cheaper cost, and the Open Source University (OSU) is a verifiable option. With the OSU, students will be able to store their academic credentials on a central blockchain database which makes it affordable legitimate and widely accepted by employers.

Smart Contract

Smart contract powered by blockchain technology has been tested in other sectors such as insurance and finance; the same could be employed in the education sector. It will drastically reduce paperwork and task completed in record time. You can set conditions and use it to verify attendance or completion of assignments once they are met.

Online Education Hurdles

Most people start online education but find it difficult to complete whatever course they have registered for. This could be solved with blockchain technology as motivation in the form of token is given to online students as an incentive. The same reward system of a token can be given to tutors and teachers for uploading educational materials online for students.

Utmost Transparency

Since there is several levels of checks and approvals needed for one to alter any information saved through blockchain technology, there is a wide margin of error, and it improves its authenticity. This is why it will be impossible for students, tutors, or any stakeholder in the education sector to create fake certificates in whatever course.

Continuing Professional Development

It's necessary for professionals to have retraining in the course of doing their jobs. However achieving CPD is always a challenge as its so fragmented, difficult to track and subjective. With the blockchain technology, it's expected to address this issue and make it widely accessible online and secured also.

Transcripts, Diplomas, Certifications

The menace of selling fake diplomas is a global occurrence; using the United States as a case study, it's estimated that about 200,000 counterfeit degrees are being churned out yearly. The price for procuring a fake certificate ranges from $100 to $50,000 depending on the university and type of certification.

Little effort has been made to curb this menace, and it's eroding the credibility of education as the uneducated get employed as they compete with the genuinely educated ones.

One of the reasons why this persists is the manual method of certificate and transcript verification which is also time-consuming. This is where blockchain technology comes into play to solve this issue to a significant level.

Security and File Storage

It's crucial for schools and educational institutes to protect the information of their students as they also intend to store more data. Blockchain powered application like DLT offers an ideal cloud storage platform for safer storage of data. Filecoin provides a flexible option that allows users to host files which is great for educational institutions.

Publishing

The publishing aspect could also be enhanced with Blockchain technology as there are several ways it could change the face of the publishing industry.

For example, we have the "Authorship" which permits authors to pitch their articles on the platform powered by Blockchain. Authorship, through its tokenized system, allows readers to purchase token to get the book and 90 percent royalty is accrued to the author's token account. It is important also to state that authors own the complete copyright to the book and they have the liberty to pitch it anywhere they intend.

Bonds

Usually, bonds are utilized for capital project funding such as education sector improvement. Blockchain can speed up the process of bond application and receive.

Blockchain Technology Use Cases in Education Sector

Blockchain in education has far-reaching advantages, and as mentioned earlier some government and private educational institutes have started harnessing the potentials of Blockchain to enhance their educational sector.

  1. Bitdegree (BDG)

Bitdegree is the pioneer of token scholarships and technology talent acquisition project. It utilizes the blockchain platform to revolutionize the education industry as it encourages more students to participate in studies online for a blockchain token reward.

  1. Blockcerts

Blockcerts platform helps those who need their credentials, and digital certificates verified on blockchain technology.

  1. Blockchain Education Network (BEN)

BEN refers to the collaborative work of students and young professionals to improve blockchain tech in education. BEN creates awareness through events across various campuses, arranges sports events and provides students with educational resources to help them with their studies.

  1. Zebi (ZCO)

Another exciting blockchain startup is Zebi which works to protect the integrity of data. It's ideal for businesses, multinationals, government, and everyone that intends to protect their sensitive data. Nowadays, this tech is being used in the education sector to help institutions protect their student's records and information.

  1. Sony Global Education

This is a centralized ledger developed by Sony Global Education for education record storage. It's an innovative platform with high potentials for the future. This platform also allows data sharing by various education institutes which makes it easy to track and share academic info.

With vast opportunities available in the education sector and more areas still undiscovered, blockchain technology will take education to another level.

Conclusion

There are more opportunities to be explored by the blockchain technology in the education sector. The smart class will be achieved in few years, certificates will be easy to authenticate and the entire process will be simplified.