​​​Report indicates wide interest in the potential of nascent technology, highlights opportunities and considerations to enhance education and workforce equity through blockchain

The next evolution of blockchain in higher ed


​​​Report indicates wide interest in the potential of nascent technology, highlights opportunities and considerations to enhance education and workforce equity through blockchain

A new report from the American Council on Education (ACE) outlines the outcomes and best practices that have emerged from the Education Blockchain Initiative, which was funded by the U.S. Department of Education and included the Blockchain Innovation Challenge.

Blockchain is a technology best known as the underpinning of the first cryptocurrency, Bitcoin. It is a type of shared, distributed ledger technology that uses an agreed upon and encrypted process.

The $900,000 competition sought bold ideas to reorient education and employment around learners and ultimately funded four projects that explored how blockchain technology can empower learners with more control over their educational records and create more equitable opportunities for economic advancement.

“The past eighteen months has surfaced the critical need of exploring and developing emerging technologies to address systemic opportunity gaps in our country,” said Kristina Ishmael, deputy director of the Office of Educational Technology at the Department of Education.

“This report highlights promising technologies like blockchain that grant learners agency to navigate their educational journey, including ownership over their credentials and the ability to share credentials between institutions freely.” 

The four Phase I winners are:

• Pilot A: Guardianship & Consent for Nebraska Systems-Involved Students is a collaboration between Student1, the Nebraska Department of Education, and Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services to replace a current manual paper process for guardians of systems-involved students to provide legal and verifiable consent for services for their minor child and associated data sharing required to effectively provide those services. This initiative sets the foundation for a comprehensive learner record for Nebraska K–12 students who are involved with multiple state educational, judicial, or behavioral services.

Laura Ascione