Blockchain Applications in Education: Use Cases
Beyond its conventional use, blockchain is being implemented across various industries and fields. Among these fields is education, where blockchain is beginning to be used in the most surprising and innovative ways. In this blog post, we will discuss companies which are using blockchain to disrupt a system that does not respond to change easily.
1. Transcripts, Diplomas, Certifications
It is estimated that in the United States alone, 200,000 fake diplomas are sold each year by fake diploma mills. Some degrees can be purchased for as little as $100 dollars, and the price can go up to $50,000, depending on what university diploma and transcript is being faked. Surprisingly, the United States has not taken drastic measures to combat this issue, which leaves it prevalent in the current educational landscape.
To this day, verification of diplomas, transcripts, and other important documents is pretty much a manual process. In terms of bureaucracy, I think we can all agree that the education system in many countries is very messy and time-consuming. To combat this issue, there are companies who propose to store these credentials on the blockchain. Learning Machine, a 10-year-old software startup, has collaborated with the MIT Media Lab to launch Blockcerts – an open infrastructure for creating, issuing, viewing and verifying blockchain-based certificates.
Blockchain based certificates have already been issued in the following instances:
- The MIT Media Lab in its course “Lab’s 30th Anniversary” of 2015.
- Learning Machine, which has provided certificates in Human Resources to its staff.
- The field of Global Entrepreneurship work (Global Entrepreneurship Bootcamp) held in Seoul in March of 2016
Here are some other examples of certificates issued on the blockchain. The University of Nicosia has issued blockchain-based academic certificates for their DFIN-511: Introduction to Digital Currencies course. The authenticity of the document can be verified on the Bitcoin blockchain.
Malta is the first nation to begin large-scale blockchain deployment within its education system. The government itself has been very supportive and proactive in pushing for blockchain implementation within its education system. Blockchain certificates have been successfully launched in Malta’s Institute of Tourism Studies (ITS) and Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology (MCAST). The next step for the country would be to make all educational diplomas blockchain-based.
Likewise, Armenia’s very own Arcnet also aims to combat the issue with fake academic documents. Coined as a blockchain based career ecosystem, Arcnet has a special project called ArcCert, which provides universities and other educational institutions the opportunity to create and issue tamper-proof diplomas and certificates, which are, in fact, verifiable.
2. Security and File Storage
Without a doubt, it is important for schools to protect their networks and student information. As education institutions store more and more data, DLT cloud storage could offer a safer alternative to conventional options that are currently being used. Referring to themselves as the “Airbnb for file storage,” Filecoin allows the hosting of files with flexible options. This could potentially be a great option for educational institutions to store student information in a safe way- without the risk of information being tampered or lost.
2. Human Resources
Conducting background checks can be a very long and difficult process for HR managers. In terms of criminal history and previous employment, if information was to be stored on the blockchain, background checks would be less time consuming, and the hiring process could move forward more quickly. This can be tied back to the first point about the authenticity of diplomas. In this day and age, our employment system still works by the assumption that whatever you put in your CV is truthful. The cost of a bad hire varies from $7000 dollars (for mid-level positions) to $40,000 dollars for a management position.
There is a company called Chronobank, which aims to improve recruitment practices and facilitate how HR managers and candidates interact.
This can be very useful for educational institutions, in terms of making long-term and short-term hires. Here’s an example. Having a substitute teacher, I think, is a very American thing, cause when I was in a European college, if the professor didn’t show up, then class was automatically canceled 😀 But in terms of finding someone qualified, in a short amount of time, Chronobank can be very useful. It considers itself an HR ecosystem with a hiring platform called LaborX, a decentralized exchange (TimeX), a multi-signature wallet (ChronoWallet), and a unique cryptocurrency linked to labor hours (Labor-Hour Tokens).
Blockchain can have various applications within academic publishing, in terms of rights management as well. I think it is important to mention how the publishing industry is structured as an oligopoly. This is referring to the fact that academic research is published mainly by a handful of large publishers. If you are not a part of this, chances are your work will go unnoticed in the grand scheme of things. In terms of peer review, the process is outdated; it takes a very long time and a large amount of funds. Blockchain implementation could really change this whole industry. There are companies that currently work on resolving issues within academic publishing.
Authorship allows authors to publish their work on the blockchain-based platform. Readers can purchase the books from the platform using Authorship Tokens (ATS), and writers get 90% of royalties in ATS. Authors own the copyright to their work. They have complete freedom over where their work is present and whether they choose to distribute it in other forms.
Bonds are usually used to fund capital improvement projects, such as updating the heating system in a high school or building a new gymnasium next to the campus. Because schools usually don’t get a lot of funding, one of the ways they secure it is through issuing bonds. This process can be faster and more secure with the implementation of blockchain.
The value of bonds issued by education providers worldwide was $2.2bn in 2007, and skyrocketed to $6.4bn in 2017. Some of the biggest universities, including Harvard, Yale, and MIT, have made it onto the list of top borrowers in the US.
Blockchain implementation for issuing bonds is starting to gain momentum. The World Bank is planning on issuing what it says is the “world’s first global blockchain bond”.
German automaker Daimler, has already made an attempt at this. They used blockchain technology to issue a type of German bond in one of their pilot projects in 2017.
In short, big steps have been taken towards revolutionizing the education system – with the help of blockchain.
What do you think? Is blockchain the future of education?
Let us know your thoughts.