How Blockchain Will Change Education — Storing & Verifying Permanent Records
The year 2017 was full of surprises, and the best one of them of all was the rise of cryptocurrencies fame. The world was fascinated and even a bit intimidated by the rise of Bitcoin and even other coins like Ethereum. Cryptocurrencies didn’t just give us an alternate way to trade stuff, but introduced the world to a remarkable piece of technology — the blockchain.
And the blockchain does more than just power financial transactions for these cryptocurrencies. It opens up a whole new world of possibilities, with the potential to impact almost every single industry, including one that people often don’t connect to the blockchain — education.
While there are dozens of problems blockchain tech could be put to solve in the education sector, in this post, we’ll focus specifically on how educational records system can be made safe, trustworthy, transparent and searchable.
A blockchain is a digital record keeping system that stores data in the form of blocks. Each of these blocks is verified and stored using a common consensus. One a block is added to the system, it cannot tamper in any form as the blockchain isn’t just stored on one system or computer, it is distributed among many.
Blockchain: The Most Secure Distributed Ledger
Ever since the versatility of Blockchain has been realized. It has been used in different applications. Things have taken a turn where if one wants to store data securely, the best option is to use a blockchain.
One such area where the use of blockchain is highly useful is in the educational field. Anyone who is familiar with the internal working of an educational system knows how much paperwork is involved in it. This is also a field where many technological adaptations were proven ineffective.
So let’s see how Blockchain will transform educational systems for the better.
Storing permanent records made easy
Blockchains can be used to store important documents — like degree certificates and files. Since a blockchain is not stored on one server alone, but across every single node connected to it, the data is accessible even if your institution closes down or goes offline. It’s permanently available. This feature is a huge advantage, as students or teachers won’t be left stranded without a degree if the parent educational institution collapses.
We also don’t need to worry about files on the system being hacked or tampered, because of very nature of blockchain tech. Blockchains are practically unalterable by design, and require impossibly high amounts of resources to modify even if someone were to set out performing an attack. Since the files are stored on multiple computers and not just in one spot, hackers would need to alter the file on every node at the same time. This is practically impossible due to the sheer processing power needed to achieve such a task.
Easy verification and correspondence
Verifying a person’s educational qualification takes significant resources — in terms of time and money. Organisations conduct background checks, make phone calls, and bunch of other things to verify the authenticity of the degrees of their hires. There is typically a long list of back and forth communication between companies and the universities to verify records. However, if these records were to be stored on a blockchain, organisations could refer to this public blockchain and not rely on a human bottleneck at an educational institutions. Each institution could sign these records with their private key, ensuring a fool proof guarantee of the authenticity of these records. Universities like MIT are experimenting with such technology, called Blockcerts, to store certificates of their students.
By exporting certifications to the blockchain, you can verify them in an instant. The biggest advantage for companies or educational institutions is that the possibility of fraudulence is reduced to zero.
All in one Portfolio for Students
The next innovation form blockchain is an extension of the already discussed method of storing certificates using blocks. Each student could store every accreditation that are tied to their names on the blockchain.
This paves the way for a more streamlined way of carrying valuable certificates. In addition, the students won’t need to carry multiple files with them to present their qualifications before someone or an entity like a company or educational institution. With everything stored on the blockchain, a simply alphanumeric ID or even a QR code should be enough to share your verified educational credentials. The underlying blockchain technology completely avoids the possibility of fraudulence.
Sony and IBM have collaborated to create such a platform where students can store their accreditations under one portfolio. Adding to the list of names is the University of Texas, which is developing a platform called ChainScript that creates an all in one portfolio for its students.