A new report from the American Council on Education (ACE), funded by the U.S. Department of Education, examines blockchain’s potential in bridging a troubling and expanding gap between higher education and the labor market.
Blockchain–a technology that is a “shared, distributed ledger technology (DLT) that uses an agreed-upon and encrypted process to ensure that information on the ledger is tamper-proof, and that the data on the blockchain can be trusted even without centralized, third-party validation”– consists of three layers, as outlined by authors Kerri Lemoie and Louis Soares.
• Applications: This layer is how end users interact with DLT. As such, it might take the form of digital wallets, mobile interfaces, analytics tools, and the like.
• Protocol and network: This layer encompasses the software and processes that govern a distributed ledger, such as consensus mechanisms and issuance of tokens.
• Infrastructure: This layer encompasses the computers, servers, and systems that make up the peer-to-peer network running the distributed ledger (Nelson 2018).
Why blockchain in higher education?
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The COVID-19 pandemic has shed light on the gap between educational institutions and changing labor market demands–a communications gap resulting from a disconnect between how higher ed and the labor market each “talk about, measure, and signal individuals’ skills,” writes Ted Mitchell, ACE president, in the report’s foreword.