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    Blockchain to Transform Quality Education

    by Kunal Kishore 08/17/2019 09:03 PM BST

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          Smart classrooms aren’t too far off, and blockchain technology may become an integral part of schools all over the globe in a few years.
          The blockchain, which has gained fame over the last few years for its superior cybersecurity capabilities, has begun to see use in a number of industries that take security seriously, including finance and healthcare. The potential uses for the blockchain, however, extend far beyond its current applications and could make a big difference in classrooms one day.
          Education is a sector that is just as important as healthcare and finance, and there are lots of areas within this sector that could be improved using technology.Already, tools like virtual reality and personalized learning with artificial intelligence are helping to improve learning outcomes for students at all levels.

          Smart classrooms aren’t too far off, and blockchain technology may become an integral part of schools all over the globe in a few years. But how will this system help administrators and students? To understand the potential impact of blockchain in the education system and predict how this technology will impact teachers and students, it’s helpful to know how other sectors have used it to improve their processes—and how schools might one day follow in their footsteps. Security Concerns and Degree Verification on College Campuses

          Unfortunately, education isn’t far behind finance and healthcare when it comes to data breaches. After these two industries, education experienced the most data breaches of any sector in 2017, making up 13% of all breaches. Student data, although it might seem worthless since most young children and teens have limited financial information, is actually becoming a hot commodity among cybercriminals.

          Security and verification are becoming a major concern both on college campuses and after students leave to enter the workforce. Data breaches target student records and steal information that can be used to create fake identities or be sold by hackers. Protecting records with the blockchain could make these attacks ineffective, protecting students’ identities and school records. As more schools from kindergarten to university go digital, this could be key in ensuring student privacy.

          Employing blockchain security protocols in higher education has its other uses as well—namely defending employers against people who claim to have a degree, but really don’t. Unfortunately, people have been known to lie about their degrees and qualifications to employers, claims that are difficult (if not impossible) to verify under current systems. When students enter the workforce, blockchain could also be used to help assure employers that potential candidates fresh out of school have the qualifications that they claim on their resume, by storing that information in a secure ledger.
          Getting students to school is an important part of educating them. In the future, ridesharing apps resting on blockchain technology could be used to organize carpools for students with special needs. This will be particularly important as roadways become more congested and carpooling becomes a necessity. Using the blockchain in this way would also take the burden off of parents and ensure that all children get the safe transportation they need.
          Because blockchain use in the education space is still very new and unexplored, there are a lot of unanswered questions. What is clear, however, that the possibilities are endless. As school administrators look to the future, they would do well to think about how to harness this powerful technology.
          Blockchain is a technology that clearly has applications in the world of learning at the individual, institutional, group, national and international levels. It is relevant in all sorts of contexts: schools, colleges, universities, MOOCs, CPD, corporates, apprenticeships, and knowledge bases.
          Rather than the old hierarchical structures, the technology becomes the focus, with trust migrating towards the technology, not the institutions. It is really is a disintermediation technology.

          Traditionally institutions have been a source of trust: universities, for example, are trusted “brands”. In finance, where blockchain is nowadays a ubiquitous hot topic, banks exist to enact transactions, creating an environment in which blockchain’s advantages are readily obvious.

          In education, however, there needs to be trust beyond the technology. We are looking, I think, at a hybrid model rather than a wholesale blockchain takeover. Reputation will still matter, and this will continue to be derived from the quality of the instruction, teachers, research, and so on. However, blockchain can play a role here, too, as one could imagine a sort of web of teachers and learners that deploys blockchain to cut out institutions. This, in my view, is not impossible, but it is unlikely.

          It must also be recgnized and conceded that blockchain is not without its problems. There are data-regulation issues, and a cloud has been created over the technology by the fact that one of the exchanges in the Bitcoin system – which is based on blockchain – saw $500 million disappear! And last but certainly not least, after considerable difficulty, US authorities were able to close down the infamous “Silk Road” drug-dealing exchange, which was also blockchain based.

          Yet the biggest obstacle to blockchain’s more widespread use is cultural. Education is a slow learner and a very slow adopter. Despite its obvious advantages, the learning world is likely to be slow in implementing this technology, as most of the funding and culture is centred around the individual institution. Bologna was dead the day it was signed as nobody really wanted to lose their students and suffer financially, but it nonetheless became the framework for European higher education. This indicates clearly that the stimulus for change will have to come from elsewhere.

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