Higher education’s history of manual, paper-based processes has burdened many institutions with issues of security, fraud, and identity management, leaving industry IT leaders wondering: is there a better way? In fact, there is.
Blockchain hasn’t been much more than a buzzword in higher ed. But as the validity of blockchain is proven in industries like banking, automotive, and healthcare, higher education needs to examine ways it could be used to improve its processes.
In a nutshell, a blockchain is a distributed database comprising chronological groups of data stored in “blocks,” with each block linked to the data of the last. It is secure because any tampering or changes in the chain can be easily detected, because the block’s cryptographic hash wouldn’t match.
For institutions entrusted with some of our most valuable information–transcripts, diplomas, and more–not only can blockchain ease verification, but it can also improve auditability, privacy, and information sharing.
Here are some key areas where blockchain has the potential to solve challenges and revolutionize higher education.
1. Secure Credentials
Perhaps the most prominent area where blockchain is being used in higher education is credentials. Historically, credentials like transcripts or degrees require a manual verification process that can take weeks and is prone to human errors and even fraud.
Blockchain streamlines the process by making it easier to verify transcripts, degrees, and certifications digitally. Delhi University (DU), for example, awarded its 2022 graduates with digital degrees through “Samarth e-governance” software with blockchain technology developed by the university.
Colleges and universities can use blockchain to manage both their student credentialing process and their verification of certifications and degrees when hiring. As the issuing entity, producing tamper-proof credentials is easy: simply issue credentials to be approved by an authority. They can then be accessed by students/alumni and shared with interested groups like potential employers. To verify degrees and credentials, institutions can access the blockchain to verify accurate degrees from other educational institutions. China Distance Education Holdings Limited (CDEL), for example, uses blockchain to share educational records and professional certifications across many educational institutions to help employers and recruiters verify the educational credentials claimed by individuals.
When technical credentials are verified using the blockchain, they come with the “stamp of approval” from the issuing institution, making them more powerful than just a line on a resume. So, whether they are granting a credential or looking to verify a degree for hiring, blockchain offers an easier way to be sure all parties are getting accurate information.
2. Learning and Curriculum
Blockchain can positively impact the teaching process and curriculum development by “gamifying” learning to keep students engaged, which can be particularly important in this era of remote and hybrid learning.
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