Blockchain technology has garnered much attention in recent years, but technology leaders seem split over its future–some say the hype will be short-lived, but blockchain start-ups are growing and hiring.

What does that mean for blockchain technology’s uses in higher education?

According to Don and Alex Tapscott, authors of Blockchain Revolution, blockchain “is an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value.” Information on a blockchain isn’t stored in a single location, and this means its records are public and easy to verify.

Supporters say blockchain technology has several applications in higher education, including in credentialing and security. Others caution that the technology may be too expensive or complicated to implement, or that the space between understanding and implementation is too large to bridge.

Here’s a look at some of the latest potential uses for blockchain technology, as well as where industry leaders think the technology might take higher education in the future. (Check out this visual explanation of how blockchain works.)

Blockchain technology: latest technology in higher ed or overhyped?

1. Blockchain curricula: Distributed-ledger currency exchange company Ripple launched a five-year, multimillion-dollar initiative focused on blockchain technology research, organizational activities, and course development. Twelve academic institutions worldwide are participating, including the University of Texas at Austin, Stanford University, Wharton, MIT, Princeton, Berkeley Haas, the University of Oregon, the University of Waterloo, University College London, Korea University, the University of Luxembourg, and the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands.

Virginia Tech is using a $3 million investment to create a blockchain curriculum, to which all computer science students in the university will have access. The investment from blockchain software publisher gives Virginia Tech the impetus for its first venture into the technology, and the university’s blockchain curriculum is set for fall 2018 implementation.

2. Credentialing: “The implications for the industry are huge: Using blockchain means we can now offer credentials that are unhackable and unfakeable,” contends Alan Heppenstall, co-founder and CTO of the digital credentialing platform Accredible.

About the Author:

Laura Ascione

Laura Ascione is the Managing Editor, Content Services at eSchool Media. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland's prestigious Philip Merrill College of Journalism. Find Laura on Twitter: @eSN_Laura

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