Once perceived as a technology for crypto transactions only, blockchain has proved itself useful in a lot more fields. With its benefits and capabilities, blockchain has the potential to upgrade the spheres of life we used to know. Can blockchain be used for education? Definitely.
At first, blockchain explanation may seem a bit confusing, but the technology is quite easy to perceive. Blockchain is a distributed database functioning with the help of blocks and chains. Blocks store digital information while chains link the blocks together. The data on a blockchain is immutable and open to any member of the platform. It guarantees transparency and reliability of transactions and eliminates the need for mediators. Blockchain utilized decentralized consensus not to rely on any authorities to manage and verify transactions.
Blockchains can be divided into permissionless and permissioned. The difference is in the way members join them – permissionless blockchains are open to anyone, but membership of permissioned ones is to be granted. Thus, permissioned blockchains can be used by businesses that have private data.
Nowadays there are many experienced blockchain consulting groups that help enterprises and institutions adopt blockchain in the most effective way possible.
There are plenty of ways blockchain can be used in education from administering to the learning process itself.
Educational processes of all stages come with tons of paperwork and document management. With no universal storage system and, what’s more, lots of papers handled in physical format, the processes significantly slow down and can cause unnecessary waste of time. With blockchain, all data including curricula and internal regulations can be easily accessible and managed effectively.
Thanks to blockchain’s immutability it can contribute to more effective recognition and management of certifications and accreditation both for further education and job seeking. Any person concerned can check the relevant qualification of the candidates. Blockchain also has the potential to lower the percentage of degree fraud.
If all learning materials are stored on a distributed ledger, students have round-the-clock and equal access to them.
All current and mid-term grades, as well as peer evaluation and attendance records, can be stored in the blockchain to provide students the full picture of their performance.
In the case of distance learning, it may be difficult to ensure the transparency of examination processes. Blockchain smart contracts can be used for the creation of exam papers and even for grading if the answer keys are in the system.
Summing up, blockchain for education seems to be a very useful and innovative concept, but everything has its drawbacks.
There are some troublesome aspects that may hinder the advance of blockchain into the sphere of education.
Blockchain requires advanced technological infrastructure and a great amount of energy, which altogether is enormously expensive. Since the majority of schools and universities are usually run by the government, it would be not too easy to get the necessary funding.
Mining new blocks takes a lot of energy which results in a huge carbon footprint. It is known that mining Bitcoin consumes as much electricity as Switzerland does in a year, with each transaction using 1,173-kilowatt hours. Thus, blockchain operations are considered not sustainable for the environment. Nevertheless, developers do their best to create new less harmful solutions.
With the formidable amount of documents and data educational institutions have, there would be a permanent need in creating more blocks, which will slow the speed of transactions.
Even though blockchain is quick in penetrating different spheres, it is unlikely that education will fully embrace it in the nearest future. The technology is still relatively young and is trying new features, and is not so familiar to the majority of the global population. And, while possessing obvious benefits, blockchain comes with big challenges for its implementation, especially in such a conservative field as education. This will require not only new technical skills and knowledge to be obtained but also to change the way we treat the concept of education and the different roles it plays in our society.
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