Four ways blockchain technology is transforming online learning
Education is transformative. It can lift you up into new careers and exciting new situations - it’s amazing where it can take you. I feel the same way about blockchain technology, an innovative approach to a user-focused network that doesn’t depend on an authority. Blockchains provide us with a platform for supporting students, educators and employers by offering efficiencies not available in traditional systems. Blockchain in the education sector is the future of learning.
So, what are the uses of blockchain in education? Blockchain is like a platform for shifting power. What I mean by this, is that the technology can shift control and ownership from the hands of institutions and corporations into the hands of students and employers. In our case, we’re driven by creating value for students, educators and employers, and this is what our Marketplace does. The four use cases we’ll look at here for the blockchain education industry support this change:
Use case #1: Reduction of costs
Blockchain technology makes education more accessible, not just in availability of course information, but in the reduction of course costs. The architecture of blockchain helps make intermediaries redundant by decentralizing control away from any one organization. On a blockchain-based network, participants, like ODEM’s students, prospective employees and employers, can directly connect.
A PWC report discusses blockchain as “a new tool to cut costs.” The report explains that technology’s “unique characteristics enable organizations to operate a lot quicker and in a cheaper way, with a far lower error rate, with less resulting risks, lower capital requirement and less vulnerability to cyber attacks.”
Education is something everyone needs and benefits from and should be accessible to everyone. A reduction in the cost of operations means that users pay less. And at ODEM, the savings are directly passed on to them. Blockchain technology supports the development of students by offering a selection of student and employer requested courses taught by professional educators and industry veterans.
Use case #2: Increasing value
Direct connections increase the value that a marketplace can provide by creating more impactful relationships. It’s the simplest and most effective way to achieve results, allowing two parties to connect and determine exactly what they need without any third party interference. In the case of education, direct connections can also result in more meaningful relationships between students and educators.
This direct connection also facilitates trust, which is reinforced by the architecture of blockchain. “Blockchain technology and its principles have almost unlimited application possibilities in business transactions,” says Marcel Nickler, a partner at BearingPoint in Switzerland, in a report. “A main point is that the documentation is not only managed in one location, such as the central server of a bank, but it is distributed among the users of the blockchain. There are countless copies, potentially millions distributed throughout the network. The chaining of the blocks ensures that the content of the block remains trustworthy at all times.”
Use case #3: Record ownership and security
One of the key values that blockchain technology provides is the ownership and security of records. Blockchain makes data immutable, a characteristic that secures information and prevents tampering or manipulation.
As information is recorded on-chain, it’s validated and verified by network nodes for proof of ownership and chain of custody. Blockchain’s architecture deeply supports this security, with blocks that are ‘chained’ together by cryptography, with the hash of one block’s data being linked to the next to create a chronological chain of blocks. Data added to the chain can’t be changed once it’s recorded, so that data is immutable.
This technology is especially relevant to students who need to verify their academic records and transfer those records across the country, or the world. With their records being authenticated and verified (we explain more about this in a previous blog post), students can reliably transfer data to anyone; a potential employer, government or an educational organization.
Use case #4: Transparency of process
Public blockchains are open to the world. This means that their ledgers are transparent. While the data recorded on-chain is encrypted, all transactions, communication or financial, are visible to the network. Transparency lends itself to education.
“Blockchain networks are designed for value networks with consensus-driven cooperation, data replication for all participants, and high transparency of data and processes,” explains Christa Koenen, CIO of DB Systel in an August 28th article on CIOReview. “This approach has a particular appeal for … value transfer industries.”
Our chief objective with blockchain technology is to provide a technological solution for the advancement of higher learning and continued studies. We’re on a mission to promote the well being of students, prospective employees and employers by making education and employment more affordable, accessible, verifiable and transferable.