[DEX Series #5] Academia, managing credentials through the blockchain
Technology provides tremendous promise when it comes to improving education. Advances in technology have already helped arise multiple MOOCs (Udemy, Coursera, etc.). Sadly, we are also witnessing fraud in the field of education, which got a lot easier with technology at its reach.
The process of managing all kinds of academic credentials is still mainly manual which poses a big threat to the field — deceitful claims are nowadays still very present. Credentials from academic fields are the currency in the business world in order to get jobs and are also one’s ticket to improve their options in life. If we overlook their vulnerability and mismanage them, this could appear very destructive for the society we live in. The perfect solution for that might be the blockchain tech.
Old systems, old issues
According to Allen Ezell and John Bear (the bestseller “Degree Mills: the billion dollar industry that has sold over a million fake diplomas”), it is very likely that more than fifty percent of the people claiming to have a Ph.D. are deceitful and didn’t get the credentials in a proper way. We know of thousands of exposed cases in the media when celebrated high ranking individuals have lied about their academic achievements. Not only among individuals in high places, corruption is also a part of the higher education sphere — bribery, nepotism, non-compliance — endemic by nature although it differs from markets, countries, etc.
There are already some initiatives put in motion to utilize blockchain technology for administering university credentials (e.g. in Italy, Russia, and more recently, Malaysia, and with independents projects like Blockcerts and BCDiploma), although the world is still lacking fully elaborated procedures for issuing, record-keeping and administering academic credentials that would become commonly acknowledged, verifiable, transferable and safe.
Towards more reliable credentials
With the world getting more and more open and mobile, the challenge of student data portability (especially credentials) unfortunately remains the same. A student’s life is defined by long and wearisome administrative processes in order to properly manage one’s credentials and data. Even with elaborate cross-border student exchange programs, the exchange of data remains mostly paper-based — it is lacking security and rather discourages than promotes mobility. While the blockchain technology is not necessary for the process of verifying the academic credentials, it would certainly make the process more efficient and simplified. Blockchain, especially NFTs, procures a solid tech foundation to solve the challenges. It allows efficient but simple management of goods, in this context represented by academic credentials.
Academia — far from being only a theoretical concept — and other similar solutions, propose certificate management based on the blockchain and it is intended for academic institutions and education providers. Similar solutions go beyond geographical border lines, particularities in different educational systems, and the endless imagination regarding fraudulent methods.
From paper to tokens
Academia’s environment fundamentally changes the way credentials are being stored. There are no more paper-trailed procedures or other obsolete software solutions — the idea is to map the credentials with NFTs as incomparable and indestructible digital assets.
Academia will give permission to the issuer (academic institution or another education provider) for creating new certificates in the form of NFTs. The process of certification will run through a smart contract, resembling the one in our future decentralized exchange. Academia and the exchange are built on the 0xcert Framework, allowing the smart contract to be combined with the functions of an NFT-minter. Both of them equip their users with transferring functions for their non-fungible goods inside the platform.
On the part of Academia, it means that minting, issuing, reviewing and authenticating academic accreditation can be executed a lot faster and with more reliability. Students can collect their minor-credentials in their wallet and when they graduate, they can send their NFT accreditation to the institution that verifies the legitimacy and issues the students their diplomas.
This kind of system increases simplicity and attracts opportunity. The handling of digital goods turns out to be more independent from the institutions since it also includes the student. The decreasing complexity also means reducing the overall cost of the process. All in all, it provides safe and transferrable handling of academic credentials during the educational period and also from then on (e.g., in the work environment).
Less hassle, more learning
In a life of a student, there are many verifiable assets — when enrolling into exchange programs of international specter, their accreditation could follow them to wherever they end up, it would facilitate even day-to-day matters on their alma mater, having every exam validate as a micro-credential. Those could pile up and be used as automatic milestones for further issuing of the degrees. It means less administration for both the student and the institution.
It also offers an opportunity for a more mobile academic life for students. Currently, there are still many administrative stunts to pull off if a student wants to unify their accreditation from various universities in different countries. The approach of Academia will also tackle the challenge of committing fraud. Since smart contracts are not hackable and offer more transparent access to data, the progress of students could be made more reliable and efficient, and especially fraud-free.
Blockchain in education — a growing potential
The management and transfer of non-fungible assets will become more trustworthy, quick and instinctive because of the two implementations of the 0xcert protocol — Academia and decentralized exchange for NFTs.
The main aspect of an educational cycle is obtaining academic credentials — but this is not the only feature that could be transformed using the NFTs and the blockchain technology. One of those is definitely the process of procurement which relies on complex agreements. The systems that run on blockchain, although still being in development, could definitely offer an answer to the demand for dependable asset management solution by educational institutions.
Easy and user-friendly transfer of non-fungible assets will soon become available on 0xcert-powered decentralized SwapMarket exchange for trading NFTs.
For more on the topic of a decentralized way of trading assets, please check our other episodes of the DEX Series:
DEX Series #1: Tags and IDs
DEX Series #2: Trading and exchange
DEX Series #3: Governance and control distribution of exchanges
DEX Series #4: Centralized vs. decentralized exchange
DEX Series #6: Crypto-collectibles