Researchers, techno-enthusiasts, and developers have hailed Blockchain as a path to a fairer, more democratic world. Many believe that this emerging technology will disrupt the unelected power and influence wielded by multinational companies and financial institutions while reinventing every industry. Given the condition of the education sector, it won’t be surprising to say that of all the institutions that resist change, education is high on the list.
The edtech sector is huge and is estimated to reach the valuation of $93.76 billion by 2020. But there is no denying the fact that the education system is far from where it needs to be. Blockchain technology can be light at the end of the tunnel for education sector by bringing in improvements in this sector. So, let us figure out the role of Blockchain in the education and edtech sector.
Blockchain in Education
Digital Degrees: Traditionally, the students have relied on educational institutions to manage data about their learning achievements. These records have been hugely centralized and caused an administrative burden for institutions. Also, the education sector suffers from significant data breaches evident from the fact that it experienced the most data breaches out of any sector in 2017. This amounts for upto 13% of all breaches. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has eliminated these problems for their students by implementing an app called Blockcerts Wallet. Students receive their diploma virtually via their smartphones. The blockchain platform ensures that digital certificates are tamper-proof and can easily be shared with schools, recruiting firms, relatives, and friends.
Affordable Education: Forbes reported that the US student debt is $1.52 trillion and 44 million borrowers owe this debt. With student loan debt crisis becoming a very grave issue, Blockchain technology and MOOCs can help in making education affordable for all. Blockchain provides cost-effective, decentralized, scalable and flexible records, documents, and digital assets storage infrastructure. This helps institutions to save money on the cost of data management.
Expanding MOOCs: Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) have gained significant importance lately. These are courses offered by various universities, for which students can enroll without acceptance to a university Facilitating small cryptocurrency transactions for online courses fee payment, blockchain technology can offer a greater level of legitimacy to the MOOC services.
Smart Libraries: As blockchain makes it easier to keep track of and store information, it can help in removing friction from the library and information services in educational institutions. The immutable ledger can keep track of the movement of books and resources of the library by updating ledger in real-time making the whole process less cumbersome and frictionless. San Jose State’s School of Information received a $100K grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to explore the potential of blockchain technology for information services.
Blockchain for Ride-sharing: Getting students to schools is an important aspect of the education system. Blockchain-enabled ride-sharing apps can be used to organize carpools for students with special needs or living in isolated areas, etc. The distributed ledger would enable drivers and riders to create a more user-driven, value-oriented marketplace and would also take the burden off of parents and ensure that all children get the safe transportation they need.
Test Preparation and Learning: Blockchain technology can help educators from across the world to collaborate with one another and to provide the learning that the students require to move into rewarding career positions. TeachMePlease, a Russian pilot on the Disciplina platform is harnessing the power of blockchain technology solely for education and recruiting. The platform eliminates the middleman and brings students and teachers together. Opet Foundation’s blockchain empowered chatbot app is helping students with test prep. It answers the doubts of the students and recommends resources while keeping track of their progress in the blockchain ledger.
The exploration of blockchain implementation in the education industry is in the nascent phase, thus there are a lot of unanswered questions floating in the air. However one thing is sure, traditional institutions either have to buy into the new educational era or they will gradually lose their historic monopoly on granting credits and degrees.