Blockchain’s prominence is on the rise and the innovation is proving beneficial in more than just the finance sector. During the COVID-19 pandemic, blockchain proved its worth in healthcare, helping to keep track of PPE for healthcare workers. In education, blockchain can make a similar impact on documentation, accessibility and more.
Here are a handful of promising applications that the digital ledger can provide today’s education systems and students:
Improve Record Keeping
Creating hard copies of academic transcripts is often a time-consuming, labor-intensive task for today’s educational administrators. Before certifying a transcript, each entry must be manually verified for accuracy. Students often request certification of course contents. This request happens when students in K-12 take a class in one state and then move to another state where they enroll in a school that teaches the same subject. However, sometimes these classes won’t have the same content. Both courses’ content must be compared to verify. It’s often a challenging task at the K-12 level, but it’s painstaking at the university level. When a student requests a record, each page needs to be reviewed, signed and stamped. If this information were available via blockchain, a student could receive a complete and verified record of content and all other academic achievements.
Expand File Storing
Storing thousands, if not millions, of digital curriculum documents, records, degrees and other information requires a lot of space. Saving everything on local hard drives requires centralizing the files, but it can cause irreparable damage to the institution and student if they’re damaged or compromised. While cloud storage is a possibility, proper file storing demands a storage space that is often inaccessible for many institutions. A blockchain-based cloud storage system like Filecoin would be an option that helps secure a growing database of essential files.
Integrate Digital Lessons and Courses
Many blockchains can also hold smart contracts, meaning that lessons and courses can be programmed into or stored onto the blockchain and automatically used to meet specific criteria. Teachers could set up tasks for students and when completed, the blockchain would verify them through a smart contract. Once the material is complete, teachers would receive payment with crypto tokens and students would be awarded their credits. In the future, entire courses could be distributed this way.
Make Education More Accessible
Perhaps the real disruption in education blockchain comes through the accessibility to education. Since blockchain automates many tedious processes, this leads to lower costs for schools and universities. It could ultimately translate into fewer loans for students who often have to take out student loans. Educational institutions could also lower costs associated with file storage and cutting out the liaison in many of these activities.
Blockchain and cryptocurrency may also be used to pay for most schooling in the future. In 2014, King’s College in New York City became the first accredited institution in the U.S. to accept Bitcoin as a form of legitimate payment. The process eliminated the credit card fees previously charged to students. It’s also a great example of how blockchain could be utilized in higher education to create and trade new digital assets like courses and learning guides.
Woolf University, for example, seeks to become the first blockchain-powered, nonprofit university across the globe. Funded by Oxford and Cambridge academics, it relies on said blockchain and smart contracts between learners and educators, similar to AirBnB, but for education.
Promising research can address educational issues that have been difficult to solve with traditional technologies. If integrated, the new blockchain educational platforms can seek to lower tuition and improve faculty remuneration through smart contracts that automate administrative tasks, protect students and teachers, and reduce organizational costs. Thus far in 2021, implementation of the blockchain to support education systems offer a unique and scalable solution to the barriers in education.