The Education sector has been idyllic for a long time. Garnering profits and stability. But it is now witnessing major changes in the way learning is done and received. It is no more restricted to traditional centralized systems of education done predominantly through physical classrooms in far-flung universities and schools. Digital technological advances like cloud, artificial intelligence, mobile, analytics have made it possible to connect with anybody anywhere in the world. Peer-to-Peer learning is finding many takers as an inexpensive and effective mode of learning. Encouraged by this many MOOC’s are offering skill-based courses with certification that is widely getting accepted amongst employers. There are blockchain developer courses in India being offered as online-course through various e-learning platforms as well.
On the other hand, the educational institutes are burdened by regulation where it takes exceptional long lead times for transcripts to reach the students. Credentials and certificates although digital are still available only with the institutes which makes it an easy target for data breaches and data alterations. And physical damages to data servers will permanently destroy all student database and credentials.
With online learning, the chances for fake certificates with unskilled students is becoming a serious issue.
Blockchain has vast benefits, as a distributed ledger technology provides a decentralized system for storage of records, asset information and facilitates quick and reliable means of sharing that information.
Blockchain implementation in this sector is still not become mainstream, as integrating blockchain at university levels, with interoperability with other institutes is a mammoth task. Such implementation will need a huge workforce of blockchain developers, capable of building a vast network and to build all proprietory applications.
Blockchain use cases for education
1. Storage and exchange of Students’ credentials and certificates
Higher educational institutes especially universities have their own format of storing student’s course records. This although is in a digital format, is still centralized, only available with the limited accessibility to exclusive staff. Their online databases lack ease of access and interoperability citing reasons for the breach of trust.
Integrating Blockchain overcomes many issues. Records like certificates and degrees on the blockchain are permanently and securely stored. Even if the institute ceases to exist or is damaged, the records will be available on the secure blockchain network. These are cryptographically encrypted so, verification of records by the third parties becomes unnecessary.
2. Identity verifications
Student identity is constantly checked at various levels within the institute. It is mostly done manually and opens up for data breach and identity thefts. By incorporating blockchain-based identity verifications. The students’ identity will only be checked and verified once. The information pertaining to the student data will be available on the blockchain network, but not the actual document. This facilitates easy and quick verification of the students at any level during their course in the institute. Apart from the exclusive staff, the acesss stays primarily with the individual. Based on the need they could allow others access to their identity information.
Blockchain’s secure and immutable storage of information abates data theft and increased efficiency reduces the overall cost of identity verification.
3. Intellectual Property Protection
Research and development are a part& parcel of educational institutes. Professors are engaged in constant research and publish their academic findings as journals and papers. Currently, there is no system to evaluate whether similar research is ongoing or is already published. Piracy is also rampant, where materials are reused and published without proper citations.
Blockchain could curb this issue. When all the academic research information is shared on a blockchain network, the use of the material along with the distribution is known and controlled. There will be no infringement issues as well.
Blockchain disruption in the education sector is here to stay. To implement IT companies are ready to deploy such projects. But, there is a dearth in the human capital – skilled, competent to work on blockchain projects.
Many Blockchain training academies have been set up to meet this demand. One such industry-endorsed Blockchain Academy in India is EMURGO Academy. Their vision is to upskill the vast IT workforce to the blockchain, make them skilled and ready to start contributing to building blockchain integrated systems.