3 Ways Blockchain is Used in Online Education
Education has gone online, and Blockchain plays a significant role in securing, safeguarding, and expanding this trend.
Much has been written about the dramatic shift toward online learning and education that occurred in 2020. Although virtual education has recently become a hot topic, it is not new; education and learning have been taking place in various virtual formats for years. COVID-19 may have accelerated the transition from physical education and learning to online formats, but it has not created a new trend; rather, it has merely accelerated something already underway.
If you look at any education-related website, you'll notice that one of the main topics is the number of courses that will be taught online. People are waiting to see whether this shift will be permanent. Still, it would not be unreasonable to anticipate an increasing percentage of courses being taught in a virtual format in the future. With ever-increasing amounts of institutional and personal information being stored and shared virtually across various networks, there will inevitably be risks associated with hackers and other unethical actors.
Particularly as many private organizations, either on their own or in collaboration with educational partners, continue to offer certificate programs, training opportunities, and even entire degrees in a virtual format, the risk of this information being compromised is not theoretical. A large amount of personally identifiable information is transferred between the individual, the institution, and any number of third-party providers as part of the educational or training process.
Blockchain appears to be almost tailor-made to help secure and protect this new education model through a combination of information security and the ability to share this data among a large network of counterparties in a completely virtual manner. There are several considerations and opportunities for online educators, online education institutions, and private sector blockchain organizations to improve educational processes and products.
Credentials are ultimately why many people pursue education in the first place, and the continued rise of online education and offerings makes obtaining credentials easier than ever. However, that same convenience opens the door to identity theft, fraudulent "diploma mill" institutions, and non-accredited or non-certified offerings that appear to compete on a level playing field with accredited institutions.
Using a blockchain-based system to record accreditation, track changes over time, and enable instantaneous verification of credentials and degrees provides two distinct advantages. The increased transparency and trust that blockchain-secured records would provide could help open the door to a plethora of new offerings and institutions. As individuals are constantly required to reskill and upskill throughout their careers, the verification and tracking of newly obtained credentials will become increasingly important.
Many breakthroughs and innovations have resulted from the research and efforts of educational institutions. Professors, other educators, and individuals associated with the educational space frequently devote significant time and energy to developing intellectual property in research papers, prototype products or services, and, in some cases, entire textbooks. In an increasingly digital-first economy and moving toward a digital-everything model, securing and potentially monetizing the results of these creative efforts is critical.
Specifically, because a growing number of private enterprises and other non-traditional organizations are entering the educational space, developing new revenue streams can help such efforts become financially self-sufficient. A self-sustaining model ensures the continued production of high-quality offerings and a return on investment that will attract capital to develop additional educational products.
The idea of a borderless and open system is one of the most prominent use cases and concepts that underpin the blockchain ecosystem. Blockchain relies on the free exchange of information and accessibility. An entirely new educational model is possible by connecting these core functional components of Blockchain to higher education. Because the world is becoming more interconnected daily, it stands to reason that education should follow suit. But how exactly?
Blockchain-enabled smart contracts, which are agreements between individuals or organizations made up of executable programmable code, would make education available on an ad hoc basis worldwide. In other words, students and instructors – including those already enrolled or affiliated with incumbent providers – could collaborate and work together, allowing institutions to become more flexible, responsive, and responsive to the economy's rapid pace of change.
Higher education and Blockchain may not appear to have much in common on the surface, but a closer look reveals just how much potential this combination has in the future. Increased responsiveness, improved transparency, and the creation of a new market for digital assets are just a few of the applications that this combination can enable; these are exciting times.