One of the key buzzwords of 2017 was Bitcoin. The digital currency had a meteoric rise in its value that jumped to $19,783.21 per bitcoin in December 2017 from the starting price of close to $900 in January 2017. Soon, governments and trade bodies across boundaries started to put in regulations and restrictions on the digital currency, which led to its plunge in value. However, the prime reason for its huge interest levels is the underlying technology of Blockchain. The last year also witnessed businesses ranging from retail and banking to education and manufacturing invest in blockchain-powered technology solutions.
While sectors such as retail, banking, manufacturing and healthcare are often quick to adopt innovative technology, the education sector is often slow in the race. But this sector is also one of the best testing grounds for emerging technologies, since decisions made in the education sector always have a direct impact on how future generations are built both in terms of awareness and skills. Blockchain, in this regard, has a critical role to play in creating awesome student experiences across the sector. We explore five possibilities blockchain can bring about in the education sector for 2018.
1. On-demand learning platforms
Utilizing blockchain, it is possible to create independent learning platforms where students and teachers can connect over coaching sessions. Terms such as duration, assignments, fee, etc. could be agreed upon initially and recorded as smart contracts for transparent execution. This would create a win-win situation for both parties, without the need for external control authorities or regulatory bodies to negotiate terms, which usually shoots up the costs.
2.Token system of rewards for learning
Academic curriculum could be vastly improved by creating a gamified version of the existing teaching style. Students, right from their lower grades, could be rewarded digital tokens or badges for their achievements. These tokens could be stored on blockchains and can be redeemed as credits for students in their higher education programs across universities and schools. Same would be the case of achievements made by students in the fields of arts, sports, innovations and science symposiums during their school days. These achievements would serve as credits in their future educational aspirations rather than just remain on shelves as certificates and trophies.
In the US alone, around 44 million borrowers own over $1.48 trillion in student loan debt. This is about $620 billion more than the entire credit card debt of Americans combined. Traditionally student loans are sanctioned with hopes of repayment tied solely on how students handle their finance post-employment. Instead, blockchains could be used to tag loans to employment contracts; employers can finance learning programs of students, and the wages paid can be automatically adjusted to repay loans attached to the student. This would greatly bring down threats of non-performing assets; and students from all walks of the society can gain flexible access to study credits.
4.Globalized verification of academic credentials
Today verification of student degrees is a cumbersome process. People demanding verification are usually employers, higher study organizations, immigration or visa processing authorities and so on. Even though education is a primary objective of every country, there is hardly any global standard for every technical education course that is imparted across countries. Verification in itself requires diverse approaches and involves humongous amount of manual labor for physical verification.
This problem can be solved by setting up blockchain based national or global level digital certificate banks. There could be a block for each country which has sub-blocks for every accredited University or degree awarding bodies in that country. How each of their degree certificates are awarded would be decoded for international standardization and any potential requester across the globe can confirm with the digital certificate system for spot verification of student credentials. With blockchain, there cannot be any tampering or manipulations leading to the total eradication of bogus degree and courses, saving time and money for students, immigration authorities and employers. The same system could be used for students to verify authenticity of educational programs offered by universities around the globe.
5.Digital Knowledge Banks
The very essence of education is to share knowledge without tampering its value. Blockchain based data banks can be set up for students, teachers, entrepreneurs and leaders across geopolitical and socio economic communities to contribute their learning experiences for future generations. Risk of data loss as well as tampering is virtually nil in the case of blockchain based systems because it would be nearly impossible for anyone to conduct a manipulation on the knowledge bank without setting off alarms for all stakeholders entrusted with securing the system.
These five possibilities can revitalize the education sector by enabling them to create more student friendly study programs with assured results. The transparent nature of systems powered by blockchain ensures that all stakeholders gain enough confidence to make good use of them over time. We can surely expect the next level of globalized education programs in the coming years, thanks to advancements in blockchain technology combined with the likes of AI and big data analytics. Stay tuned to our blog for more such interesting reads.