With digital trust, how we learn is evolving towards a more inclusive system
Education has come a long way since the days of location-based learning. Today, with internet-based communication, we can connect to anyone, anywhere. But with global communication comes risk of illegitimacy and inauthenticity; how can you put trust in connections made across an insecure digital network?
Blockchain technology provides an answer to this insecurity, making it possible to place trust in strangers and transactions. It does this with an immutable, cryptographically-secure digital ledger hosted by a globally distributed ledger. Blockchain received its name based on how the ledger records transactions. Data is packaged into blocks and chronologically recorded, which provides the data with a chain-of-custody and provenance. The blocks are connected by a cryptographic hash that secures the previous block of data. This means that if a bad actor were to try to tamper with a block of data, the hash would become dysfunctional and the chain would break, alerting the network to a breach of security.
Because the blockchain, or digital distributed ledger, is hosted across many decentralized nodes (computers), there is no central authority figure responsible for managing the data. The decentralization of data removes the risk of it being tampered with and creates an opportunity to establish digital trust, allowing users to securely retain autonomy over their information.
The impact of such a technology is massive; students must no longer rely on a traditional academic institution for a reliable and trustworthy education experience. Their options are now globally expanded, with blockchain technology democratizing access to verified educators, ensuring the security of transactions between students and educators, and validating digitally transferable academic records.
ODEM recognized blockchain’s potential for credible digital learning and designed an on-demand education marketplace enabled by the technology. The Platform opens education up to anyone with an internet connection, giving people around the world a greater opportunity to reach their potential and goals.
In many countries, education is something only a certain segment of the population can afford. We’re working to change this by offering a selection of employer-requested courses taught by professional educators and industry veterans.
Education has long been available on the internet thanks to various forms of edtech, but often not wholly accessible because there was no way to confirm the validity of the courses or the instructors teaching them. Blockchain technology transforms education in this way, bringing vital digital trust to the processes of identity verification and payment. It also helps to democratize education by opening up learning experiences to students in areas of the world where reputable or reliable learning was not previously available.
The Platform’s on-demand course selection offers a more affordable and cost-effective way to learn, allowing users to choose, course by course, what material is best for their future. This is in direct contrast to a traditional diploma or degree program that comes with a pre-defined curriculum.
As a less costly alternative to a traditional academic experience, on-demand learning allows for customization and more control over one’s education. Cost-effectiveness is also important because it expands the availability to those whose socioeconomic circumstances might otherwise prohibit them from pursuing higher education.
The ability to verify people and transactions provides a foundational trust for learning. This is one of blockchain technology’s core strengths; making it possible for unknown parties to trust each other completely. With education, this means trust in the educator’s and student’s persona, the course being advertised, the credential that will be received afterwards, and the required financial transaction.
On the distributed ledger, transactions (payments) are publicly and globally visible, but the names of the parties aren’t. Nodes confirming the transactions are decentralized across the world, independently verifying the data and adding it to the ledger.
Verified personas and credentials instill integrity, providing assurance that people and records are authentic. Blockchain technology makes this possible by simplifying the verification of data’s origin. The immutable ledger can provide a validated record of a person’s history and experiences as well as the provenance of an education credential.
Transferability of records is one of the most important aspects of making education globally viable and available. Today, students are faced with a competitive workforce that has increased the purchase and use of fake degrees, as well as an inefficient and dated system of paper records stored by institutions that are not easily accessed. If a student can’t easily prove their academic credential by sharing it, what is the value of the diploma, degree, or certificate?
We believe blockchain provides an answer to this problem. Once a record is confirmed on the blockchain, students can verify the authenticity of their record with their private key and share their digital address with a prospective employer. This digital address allows the employer to view the record on-chain, establishing trust between the two parties. Having been validated by an educator or institution, the on-chain record proves provenance and legitimacy of the designation.