Blockchain technology has the potential to disrupt education in at least three ways: by securing the verification process of academic credentials, facilitating the payment of tuition fees, and even providing cheaper data storage solutions. Not only does the use of blockchain allow to lower costs and save time, but it also ensures better data integrity
Blockchain technology has the potential to disrupt education in at least three ways: by securing the verification process of academic credentials, facilitating the payment of tuition fees, and even providing cheaper data storage solutions.
Not only does the use of blockchain allow to lower costs and save time, but it also ensures better data integrity and easier control over fraudulent degrees, which current centralized systems are not always good at spotting. New blockchain-based verification systems can be built on strong cryptography that makes it easy to detect if the content of a credential has been tampered with. Public/private key systems can be used to authenticate both the issuer and the student, thus making fraud almost impossible. Such new digital systems also allow us to store and analyze much more student data in much more secure way, without having to rely on Internet-accessible databases and eliminating the risk of hacker attacks. In fact, centralized storage solutions?—?even if “in the cloud”?—?have some attack points, which offer access to all data stored if breached. Blockchain solves this problem by requiring consensus to confirm transactions, which become immutable once sufficiently confirmed. Since each full node maintains an independent copy of the blockchain and verifies it against all others, there are no central attack points. The cost of protecting student data falls while security improves.
Sony is releasing, within its already existing educational platform, a new patented application based on blockchain. The Japanese company has declared how their technological upgrades have created a new standard, in order to fuel progress within society. The integration of blockchain technology with the Sony educational platform was made possible thanks to the collaboration between Sony and IBM, which was announced last August. This project shows how blockchain may become crucial not only for cryptocurrencies but also for important aspects of activities related to the so-called “real economy”. In fact, the blockchain-based application will be used to secure students’ academic achievements and will be integrated into a system for exchanging such data with third parties.
Blockchain technology can as well offer the possibility to create decentralized education platforms maintained by consensus rather than a central authority, allowing for a peer-to-peer learning experience and encouraging standardization across educational establishments. Moreover, such platforms offer eliminate the need for each single educator to own an exclusive license and offer the possibility to utilize blockchain-native applications, i.e., smart contracts and tokens. We are looking at a new generation of online educators working on one shared platform and using a common cryptocurrency, regardless of geographical, economic or demographic gaps.
Nowadays, there are some pioneer schools who are already accepting tuition fees in Bitcoin and tutors graduates on digital currencies. In 2014, King’s College in New York became the first US institution to grant digital currency payments and, since then, other international schools have followed the same example. Also, as Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies become more popular and widely accepted, expect to see universities around the world to not only accept them as payment, but also introduce courses focused on blockchain technology. The financial industry has a large demand for people with blockchain expertise, but the supply currently isn’t there. In fact, many people are still unfamiliar with cryptocurrencies and how they work. Fortunately, universities in the U.S., Europe, and Russia have incorporated such courses, including Duke University, Princeton University, UC Berkeley, the University of Nicosia, and the National University of Science and Technology.
By Eloisa Marchesoni.