Ever wondered how blockchain technology can be applied in the education space ? Blockchain is most frequently linked to digital currencies like Bitcoin. Data submitted on a blockchain is kept in chronologically linked blocks, which makes it very simple to trace the data’s origins and confirm its legitimacy.
These characteristics, together with the technology’s decentralized structure, have caused it to be adopted by a number of industries, most notably the financial one. According to IDC, global investment in blockchain technology is expected to increase from more than $4 billion in 2020 to more than $14 billion by 2023, according to the International Data Corporation (IDC).
Education is one sector where blockchain is only now starting to gain traction. With only a few schools utilizing the technology, blockchain adoption in education is still in its infancy. Only 2% of higher education institutions were adopting blockchain, according to a 2019 poll by the research firm Gartner, while another 18% intended to do so within the next two years.
How is Blockchain used in keeping records?
Keeping records is one common application of blockchain in education. Since there are essentially countless student records, confirming academic qualifications might take a while and need extensive paper evidence and case-by-case examination. Degrees, certificates, digital badges, and apprenticeships are just a few of the learning-related credentials that may be found, according to a Credential Engine report from 2019.
When it comes to things like transfers across schools or states, blockchain can reduce a lot of the overhead involved with this process and speed up the verification procedures, saving educators and administrators time.
A university enrolling a transfer student may quickly and easily verify their academic history and the courses they have taken using blockchain. The sharing of records with an employer falls under the same notion.
For lifelong learners, blockchain, and particularly the idea of a permanent digital transcript, offers significant significance. With lifelong learning, education becomes more globally accessible, and people constantly develop new abilities while honing their existing ones, whether they do so by obtaining a degree, a certificate, or a digital badge.
In a society characterized by technological dynamism, lifelong learning is expected to become more and more important, which may lead to an increase in the need for blockchain-based credentialing.
Since blockchain is immune to deception by its very nature, it also appeals to educators. Information in blockchain is systematically captured, saved, and added to the chain with a precise time stamp. An educational certificate, for example, that has already been added to the chain cannot be changed; only corrected by adding a new block.
This makes it difficult to alter a transcript or fabricate an academic record. Blockchain’s immutability can be a double-edged sword, too, as it makes it impossible to change a student’s record for proper reasons.
What is Blockchain’s role in lowering education costs?
Blockchain technology has the ability to change the face of education by creating new, more accessible avenues for learning and upending the current dynamic between institutions and students.
Students, parents, scholarship foundations, private lending businesses, federal and state organizations, and the frequently-massive bureaucracy of university finance departments are all involved in the labor-intensive process of managing student tuition payments.
This procedure can be streamlined using blockchain, which lowers administrative expenses and can therefore result in reduced tuition prices.
Pay-as-you-go courses and other open learning scenarios have already made use of the technology, which relies on the implementation of smart contracts and accepts cryptocurrencies as payment. (A number of colleges and institutions both domestically and overseas now accept cryptocurrencies as payment for tuition.) Millions of individuals may be interested in choices that make a college education more accessible and cheap given that the amount of student loan debt in the United States has reached $1.7 trillion, according to the Federal Reserve.
Blockchain technology has the potential to support lifelong learning by making open educational resources widely accessible. By definition, open educational resources are teaching and learning tools that are in the public domain and are free to use and redistribute, such as books, podcasts, and videos. Blockchain enables the inexpensive and safe sharing of these resources in a public network.
Challenges to using Blockchain in education
Despite the potential advantages of blockchain, adoption in the industry is currently only moderately widespread. A lack of interest in implementing blockchain was highlighted by over 50% of respondents from the higher education sector in the Gartner study. The difficulties in integrating the technology, such as concerns about security, scalability, adoption rate, and cost, may be a large part of this resistance.
Blockchain is not impervious to threats, despite the fact that security is one of its distinguishing characteristics. Institutions must be careful about what data they save and how they choose to preserve it due to the sensitivity of the information kept on the blockchain – students’ academic records and transcripts. Compliance with local, state, and federal data protection rules can be difficult. Universities could need to use private or permissioned blockchains, encrypt data on the blockchain, or both to establish greater privacy safeguards.
The cost of adopting and deploying any new technology might be high, even when it may result in savings in other areas. Computing power and updating current infrastructure may cost a lot of money. Additionally, many institutions might not have the expertise required to manage student data on a blockchain platform, so they could have to spend money and time training school officials on how to utilize the technology.
3. Adoption rate
Graduates only profit from ownership of their credentials if the schools or businesses they are applying to acknowledge the legitimacy of their credentials. Like other technologies before it, blockchain only functions when enough organizations and employers start to depend on it.
Though they may soon become the norm rather than the exception, given that hundreds of institutions of higher learning now issue and accept blockchain credentials and that a network of job search websites like Upwork and ZipRecruiter is encouraging their acceptance.
Scalability might be a problem for blockchain applications in educational institutions due to the abundance of data they have about their students and alumni. The number of blocks needed grows as the amount of data included does, which slows down the speed of transactions taking place on the blockchain because each transaction needs peer-to-peer verification.
This can be a major barrier when widely implemented. Positively, compared to permissionless blockchains, permissioned blockchains have a greater pace of transactions per second.
Through cryptocurrencies, blockchain is already revolutionizing the banking sector. As it streamlines record keeping and sharing, increases security and trust, makes hiring easier, and gives students lifetime ownership of their academic records, technology has the potential to alter education as well.
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