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Blockchain in education

New report of interest from EC and The Joint Research Center (JRC). The report focus on the benefits of blockchain for education, and gives eight scenarious how it can be applied.

Blockchain is an emerging technology, with almost daily announcements on its applicability to everyday life. It is perceived to provide significant opportunities to disrupt traditional products and services due to the distributed, decentralised nature of blockchains, and features such as the permanence of the blockchain record, and the ability to run smart contracts. These features make blockchain technology-based products or services significantly different from previous internet-based commercial developments and of particular interest to the education sector – although education, with some minor exceptions, is not currently perceived to be high on the agenda of most countries with national blockchain initiatives. In addition, currently stakeholders within education are largely unaware of the social advantages and potential of blockchain technology. The report was produced to address this gap.

“The blockchain is an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value.”
Don & Alex Tapscott, authors Blockchain Revolution (2016)

From a social perspective, blockchain technology offers significant possibilities beyond those currently available. In particular, moving records to the blockchain can allow for:

  • Self-sovereignty, i.e. for users to identify themselves while at the same time maintaining control over the storage and management of their personal data
  • Trust, i.e. for a technical infrastructure that gives people enough confidence in its operations to carry through with transactions such as payments or the issue of certificates
  • Transparency & Provenance, i.e. for users to conduct transactions in knowledge that each party has the capacity to enter into that transactions
  • Immutability, i.e. for records to be written and stored permanently, without the possibility of modification
  • Disintermediation, i.e. the removal of the need for a central controlling authority to manage transactions or keep records Collaboration, i.e. the ability of parties to transact directly with each other without the need for mediating third parties

The report concludes that blockchain applications for education are still in their infancy, though quickly picking up steam. It describes case studies of implementations at the Open University UK, the University of Nicosia, MIT and within various educational institutions in Malta: each of these implementations is in a piloting phase. However, even from these early pilots it is pertinent to conclude that blockchain could probably disrupt the market in student information systems and loosen the control current players have over this market.

Grech, A. and Camilleri, A F. (2017). Blockchain in education. Ed. A. Inamorato dos Santos. Brussels: Publications Office of the European Union.

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Download the full report here


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