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Here, I will discuss topics, and current trends on open, online, flexible and technology enabled/enhanced learning (OOFAT), including Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC), Open Educational resourses (OER), Open Educational Practice (OEP, and Open Educational Culture (OEC). In addition I will discuss current trends and news related to quality, innovation, serendipity, rhizome learning, agility, and leadership.

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)

Blockchain in education

On the  22nd November 2017, and on the 6th January 2018 I wrote a blog post on Blockchain in Education, this is a follow up to that one.

So what does the Blockchain actually do:
A global network of computers uses blockchain technology to jointly manage the database that records Bitcoin transactions. That is, Bitcoin is manged by its network, and not only one central authority. Decentralization means the network operates on a user to user (or peer - to -peer) bases. 

Blockchain 2

The short version of understanding what Blockchain can do is as Shaurya Malwa wrote yesterday 10 March 2018 in Hackernoon, they eable us to formalize and secure new kinds of relationships in the digital world.

The gist of these new kinds of relationships is that the cost of trust (heretofore provided by notaries, lawyers, banks, regulatory compliance officers, governments, etc…) is avoided by the architecture and qualities of distributed ledgers.

The invention of distributed ledgers represents a revolution in how information is gathered and communicated. It applies to both static data (a registry), and dynamic data (transactions). Distributed ledgers allow users to move beyond the simple custodianship of a database and divert energy to how we use, manipulate and extract value from databases — less about maintaining a database, more about managing a system of record.

Blockchain in education

In November 22 2917, I wrote a blogpost on Blockchain, based on the report by Grech, and Camilleri, (2017). 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. Read the full report

This is a follow up post, and the future will tell us, from experiences it is know that edcuation is not very fast to move into new technologies and digital trasformations and changes, which I have argeid in many of my own blogposts recently. This post reflects some of the thoughts by  Kernohan, in Higher Education: Policies, people, and politics, 21 December 2017, and Watter (2016), and Clark (2016) in their Blogposts.

Kernohan argues that almost all articles and reports focus on the  how questions, and explains how blockchain and bitcoins function, instead of focusing on the why questions which is more important. He stated that there are at least three limitations:

1. What is important are the downsides – and the first is inefficiency. With so many powerful computers entering the competitions, a great deal of energy is used for literally no purpose whatsoever. How much energy? Think running a medium-sized developed country for a year – that’s how much energy it takes to run the bitcoin blockchain for a year. Other chains are more efficient (Litecoin and the Etheriums) because they run their encryption competition in a slightly different way. But inefficiency also means slow transactions – minutes rather than microseconds.

2. A big problem is irreversibility – once something is on a blockchain, it stays there. If – say – you accidentally pay for something twice, you can’t just void a transaction, you need to set up another transaction to refund. Again this has an energy and time cost, but it also re-introduces trust into a trustless system. You have to rely on the person you transacted with to repay you as there are no built-in safeguards.

3. Anohter problem is artificial limitations. Cryptocurrencies like bitcoin are often limited as to the total possible number of coins that can exist. 

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Ebba Ossiannilsson is an e-learning expert and consultant with a range of research interests in the use of digital technologies for learning, teaching and research.
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