Blockchain, originally invented for the digital currency Bitcoin, is now a hot buzzword in the tech and financial tech industry.
A global distributed ledger or database, this technology distributes information among thousands of participants. This system gives the data a higher level of permanence, and allows data to be exchanged, understood and validated amongst many parties. Furthermore, the system of blockchains means that tampering information is not possible.
Beyond the tech industry, blockchain technology has implications for higher education as well, argues Kerri Lemoie in her opinion piece, “What Blockchain Means for Higher Education”.
Institutions of higher education are using blockchain to store digital certifications and academic credentials. For instance, Lemoie cites the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Media Lab which is developing software to issue digital certificates on the Bitcoin Blockchain. Meanwhile, organisations such as Sony Global Education have also developed blockchain technology to ensure the secure sharing of academic records.
As formal and informal learning certifications and accreditation become public ledger, this may likely disrupt traditional learning institutions. In an article titled “Blockchain Tech Will Disrupt Education in More Ways Than We Expect”, writer Elena Prokopets says this may lead to learners choosing to pursue learning on their own while bypassing traditional educational institutions. Furthermore, educators across the globe can collaborate with each other, and employers can provide targeted learning that will allow students to move further up the career ranks.
“And so long as those curricular programs, and the students enrolled in them, are permanently recorded in blockchain ledgers; and as long as employers and educators continue to collaborate outside the bounds of traditional institutions, then education can finally become a 21st century phenomenon,” Prokopets adds.