As more organizations contemplate blockchain technology’s place in higher education, discussions around its potential are growing, especially as colleges and universities increasingly rely on data and analytics for success.
In its most basic terms, blockchain technology is a database in which each “block” serves as a kind of ledger for transactions or accomplishments. Each block is secured and time-stamped.
As research around the technology grows, many higher education stakeholders are seeing direct applications in the education realm.
1. Open-Source Credentialing
Learning Machine and MIT Media Lab’s Learning Initiative have released the first version of an open-source project that builds an ecosystem for creating, sharing, and verifying blockchain-based educational credentials.
“Blockchain verification flips the current power arrangement in higher education by giving learners control over their official documents,” said Learning Machine President and COO, Dan Hughes. “Today, most evidence of achievement is bottled up in a proprietary information system or stored unofficially on a piece of paper framed on a wall or lost in a box in the garage. Jailbreaking the credential is about every learner being able to directly see and share verified evidence of what they have achieved.”
“In terms of higher education, the obvious first place people have thought about applying it is to credentialing, because credentialing is the ultimate transaction that higher education engages in with learners,” said Phillip Long, chief innovation officer and associate vice provost for learning sciences at the University of Texas at Austin, during a recent Future Trends Forum hosted by Bryan Alexander. The forum is an open video chat in which users can participate and ask questions about technologies poised to impact education.
(Next page: What the experts say about blockchain technology’s impact on the future of higher education)