When we hear the word ‘blockchain’ most of us associate it with cryptocurrencies. Whilst this may be true to some extent, the real potential of blockchain far exceeds just transfers of value. Over the last 18 months, many more use cases for blockchain have been discovered and it seems to be gaining a foothold in a range of industries.
But when it comes to the education sector, blockchain has taken some time to find its feet and to even conceptualize, let alone become functional. Over the last couple of months, a handful of universities have started issuing degrees on the blockchain, but this is not even scratching the surface of its potential.
This could be for a couple of reasons – firstly, educational leaders and institutions have a reputation for being slow to adapt to new technology and secondly, learning is still a quintessentially human experience. But despite this, it seems that finally as we enter the last quarter of 2018, blockchain is enjoying its first day at school.
The sudden increase in interest of blockchain in education is due to the realization of some core issues.
Firstly, issuing transcripts and accessing records of academic achievement is an extremely labour intensive process and impossible to access any time and any place. Couple this with increased mobility and on-going and life-long learning and you find yourself in a situation where the necessity for having access to complete, multi-jurisdictional, and instantly accessible qualification records is a necessity. These needs are well served by blockchain technology and in the last couple of months, around 100 educational institutes have taken steps towards integrating such a system into their operations.
Now it seems that institutions within most EU states are looking at Ethereum-based blockchains to help them set up efficient and immutable record keeping systems that can be accessed on a permission-based basis. This system will be especially useful in countries where there are issues with certification and qualification fraud.
The promise for blockchain in the academic world is real and it is picking up some serious momentum as 2018 comes to a close – it is not a matter of its possibility to happen, but rather the timelines of its implementation.