Blockchain’s many benefits put it right into the spotlight years ago. Experts write and talk about how it can transform all industries and sectors, from finance to manufacturing. And while they do, startup owners and developers prove that this technology isn’t just useful – it’s a game-changer.
Education is no exception here. The technology’s perks – immutability, security, verifiability, and decentralization – make it a great tool for preventing fraud and credentials falsification. (But don’t worry: even if blockchain becomes the new standard in EdTech, you can still google “I need Essaypro writers to write an essay for me” if needed. No one has to know!)
Still think such projects are still in the beta stage, at best? Think again! Multiple companies and platforms have already gone online – and are transforming EdTech as you know it.
So, which projects are those? And what’s the future of this particular technology in EdTech? Let’s answer these two questions.
Part 1: 5 EdTech Blockchain Projects You Should Know About
First off, let’s take a look at the five projects that are already here. They’re more than just proofs of concept. They’ve found their users and proven their value – they’re the success stories of this technology’s application in education.
This project is the result of collaboration between the MIT Media Lab and Hyland Credentials (Learning Machine at the time). The two developed the initial prototype, but the project has gone open-source since then.
What does Blockcerts do? In a nutshell, it allows schools to issue blockchain credentials to their students. This means that employers (or anyone else) can easily verify whether the credential is authentic. All they have to do is check the record on the immutable ledger.
MIT has been offering digital diplomas generated on this platform to its students since 2018. In the project’s debut year, 600 students opted to receive a diploma on an immutable ledger.
ODEM stands for On-Demand Education Marketplace. And it’s exactly that – a marketplace for educators, employers, and learners. But there’s a twist: it runs on the Ethereum blockchain, is powered by smart contract technology, and has its own coin (ODE).
Here’s just a short overview of what ODEM has to offer its users:
- Around 400 online courses on business development and crypto, including both free and paid programs;
- A full-fledged learning management system;
- Certificates, skill badges, and other credentials are stored on an immutable ledger.
Similar to the previous entry on the list, ODEM also partnered up with SAIT (Southern Alberta Institute of Technology). The goal of the collaboration was to issue blockchain-backed credentials to its students. Over 4,800 SAIT students received their certificates on ODEM’s ledger that year.
Sony Global Education
Sony Global Education, a subsidiary of Sony Group, partnered up with IBM to develop its own blockchain education project. The project’s purpose is simple: provide a secure way to issue and store digital transcripts.
Sony Global Education’s ledger isn’t here to just store diplomas and certificates, however. It’s capable of storing the student’s learning history, current, and past grades, online test results, and more.
This doesn’t just prevent any possibility of tampering with such data. Schools can share this data, anonymized or not, with other schools. This can significantly simplify credit transfer.
Disciplina is an Estonian EdTech startup that has only recently launched the alpha version of the platform. Still, it’s an ambitious project: it aims to streamline and unify all the academic records for universities.
But that’s not all. Disciplina comes with a proprietary decentralized algorithm. This algorithm evaluates students’ progress and qualifications and assigns a score based on that. That score can then be used to create an individual learning path for the student.
Right now, the Alpha version of the platform consists of four elements:
- Faucet – it gives access to some free DSCPL tokens;
- Ariadne – it serves as a crypto wallet;
- Block Explorer – it allows reviewing the records on the ledger;
- Educator app – it’s made for schools’ administration and teaching staff.
BitDegree is an EdTech learning platform that’s here to make learning about blockchain and software development easier. To achieve this goal, it serves its purpose as a marketplace and learning platform for experts in those fields with their students.
In 2019, just a year after the launch, BitDegree passed 500,000 student signups. Now, it can boast over 2 million students enrolled. These students can choose from both free and paid courses and learning paths. Topics range from DeFi and GameFi to web and iOS development.
But that alone doesn’t earn BitDegree a spot on this list. What makes BitDegree innovative is the way blockchain is integrated into the platform itself. For example:
- Scholarships issued by BitDegree are powered by blockchain;
- The startup capital was crowdfunded via an ICO;
- All certificates are stored on the platform’s ledger.
Part 2: What the Futures Holds for Blockchain in EdTech
As you can see, blockchain-backed academic records and certificates are no longer science fiction. It’s already the primary application of this technology in education. It has the power to act as a global notary, after all.
But that’s not all this technology has to offer. So, how else can it transform the education sector in the near future?
Few projects have the badge feature today, but it is a promising one nonetheless. Akin to other academic records, if it’s stored on a blockchain, there’s no way to tamper or falsify it.
What makes skill badges useful, though? Well, there are plenty of skills that most people can obtain on their own. Even software developers can be self-taught!
So, one way to make your skillset verifiable for future employers is by taking online tests designed for it. Then, if these tests are integrated with the blockchain, your results will stay on it forever.
Let’s imagine a student wants to change schools. And there’s a caveat: those schools use different blockchain platforms for storing academic records. But separate chains can’t easily move information between each other. That can make credit transfer cumbersome.
The existing solution is to create an identical record on a new blockchain and burn the old one from the original chain. But that results in a loss of data: you can’t “backdate” a record, so the chronology of events won’t be the same.
This is the issue that developers are already working on. In education, it represents a particular challenge. So, solutions for facilitating credit transfer are likely to find their users fast enough.
More Affordable Education
Just like ICOs help startups fund their projects, crypto fundraisers can fund educators’ courses. This is the idea behind making education more affordable and, therefore, more accessible. It can be implemented in open-source micro-degree platforms that power such fundraisers.
But that’s hardly the only way blockchain can make education more affordable. If it replaces labor-intensive processes, schools can cut their management costs. That cut can translate into lower tuition fees.
What processes can it automate? The obvious answers include record management and payment processing. The not-so-obvious one is accounting, partially – that is, if smart contracts get adopted.
This technology has all chances of gradually becoming integral to your everyday life. So, one day, you might find yourself living in a blockchain-driven system. And it might happen sooner than you think. Many EdTech products have already launched their mainnet.
As for the future of this technology in education, there’s one thing for sure: it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. And you may well get to have your academic records stored on a blockchain in the next decade!