Avoiding pointless (Open Badges-related) blockchain projects

Doug Belshaw
Mar 3, 2016 · 4 min read
Image CC BY-NC-ND Clayton Shonkwiler
  1. Multiple writers — more than one person or organisation needs the ability to write to that database
  2. Absence of trust — the people or organisations writing to the database don’t necessarily trust one another
  3. Disintermediation — every person or organisation that has ‘write’ access has the need to verify transactions (rather than go through a trusted intermediary)
  4. Transaction interaction — there are benefits to the project in being able to see transactions that are in some way ‘linked’
  5. Set the rules — there are constraints on the type of transactions for which the project blockchain can be used
  6. Pick your validators — you know what model you’re going to employ to resolve conflicts — e.g. “(a) one or more nodes controlled by a single organization, (b) a core group of organizations that maintain the chain, or (c) every node on the network.”
  7. Back your assets — there is agreement on the types of assets being moved around, and what exchange value they have in the ‘real world’
  1. Instead of every university or issuing body having its own blockchain, there are advantages of them pulling together in creating a single, open blockchain for Open Badges that could be written to by anyone who meets certain criteria. These could be negotiated and laid out by the Badge Alliance.
  2. There is no reason for issuing organisations to trust one another simply based on the fact that they are all issuing Open Badges. So this condition looks like it is met.
  3. The whole point of Open Badges is that they are distributed and remove gatekeepers. So it makes no points to re-introduct gatekeeprs. Distintermediation seems baked into the Open Badges Infrastructure (OBI).
  4. Badges represent credentials that often relate to knowledge, skills, and behaviour. Showing progression through such credentials is useful, and therefore the ‘transaction interaction’ referenced is a desirable feature of the system.
  5. Although blockchains can be used to represent a whole swathe of data types, an Open Badges blockchain would likely limit transactions to those containing information relevant to the Open Badges specification.
  6. The options for validation would need to be discussed with the founding members of the blockchain project. However, of Greenspan’s options, it’s likely that the validators would be option (c) — i.e. all the nodes on the network.
  7. Talking about exchange value when it comes to Open Badges is an interesting problem to solve. There’s been a lot of talk about ‘levelling’ badges, so people are aware of equivalencies. However, for every pragmatic person wanting this, there’s an idealist (like me) not wanting to lock things down. This is a problem that can be solved, and probably most easily done if a project such as the proposed blockchain project gets the founding members to agree on a taxonomy.

BadgeChain

An open repository of posts, news, & notes as we explore the intersection of blockchain technologies, learning recognition, and digital credentialing

Doug Belshaw

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Open Educational Thinkerer. Working with @Moodle and @WeAreOpenCoop to improve our world.

BadgeChain

An open repository of posts, news, & notes as we explore the intersection of blockchain technologies, learning recognition, and digital credentialing