Blockchain has great potential in higher education, but can institutions avoid obstacles to fully implement the technology?

Why blockchain in higher education?


Blockchain has great potential in higher education, but can institutions avoid obstacles to fully implement the technology?

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).

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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.

Laura Ascione