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Blockchain getting in the way of higher education today, global labor market tomorrow

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Blockchain is doing its role in the education sector, record-keeping in 2-3 years and the later adopt in the labor market? During the post-pandemic every person would require to seize ownership and control of their educational credentials, documents such as degrees and transcripts from schools, universities and governments.

Blockchain is doing its role in the education sector, record-keeping in 2-3 years and the later adopt in the labor market? During the post-pandemic every person would require to seize ownership and control of their educational credentials, documents such as degrees and transcripts from schools, universities and governments. This idea received support from the American Council on Education last week in a study funded by the United States Department of Education focusing on the use of blockchain in higher education. 

“Blockchain, in particular, holds promote to create more efficient, durable connections between education and work,” wrote Ted Mitchell, the president ACE, in the foreword study published on June 8, “In the wake of the Covid-19 crisis, learners will be more mobile, moving in and out of formal education as their job, health, and family situations change.” A major point of the report is personal data agency which means how “distributed ledger technologies [DLT] can ‘democratize’ data and empower individuals with agency over their personal information.” The report stated. 

“Currently, when individuals need to prove their education and work history, they rely on institutions and past employers to verify education and workforce records. However, the institutions or employers may not be available, the records could have been lost or destroyed, or in the case of higher education, individuals may be required to pay fees. The inability to access or control their records can inhibit opportunities and keep them in the dark about what information is actually in their records.” Education credentials have been kept in centralized systems. The issue connected with this is given in detail in the report, the data can be changed, deleted and shared without consent or knowledge of the individuals who created that data. While comparing, blockchain technologies “are inherently more transparent, persistent, immutable and secured by encryption,” stated the report. 

According to Kim Hamilton Duffy, an architect for the digital credentials Consortium said that the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the pace for digital credentials saying: “Because of that and existing educational Blockchain-related pilots, I expect these credentials will be commonplace over the next 2-3 years.” The hopeful end-to-end pilot program stating learner-controlled digital diplomas and degrees on a blockchain will run later in 2020, and a second one will show digital transcripts she said. Present pilots have both permissioned blockchains with credentials stored directly on the chain as well as public blockchains with credential stored directly on the chain as well as public blockchains with credentials stored off-chain which uses blockchain tied up identity registries. 

One important factor is about the decentralized identifiers/verifiable credentials architecture which was used in some of the most recent projects designed with no privileged roles, Christopher Allen, the principal architect of Blockchain Commons which is an open infrastructure corporation told Cointelegraph, which means that anyone could be an issuer, “this makes it possible for there to be P2P [peer-to-peer] competency credentials, from fellow students, teachers, co-workers, clients, contractors, employers- not just educational institutions.”

Nevertheless, the current system is indefensible or at least that’s what some people think. Fraudulent diplomas are proliferated, Hans Pongratz, the Chief information officer at the Technical University of Munich, said “There are diploma mills and online shops around…you can even select the right paper thickness and seals,” Roman Beck, a professor at IT University of Copenhagen, said that the diploma system is “failure-prone and subject to all kinds of fraud,” to explain it even more. “Securely mapping certificates with humans claiming to be the holder is not always easy as well, as birth certificates or identity cards are missing. Documents are not only photoshopped but also hard to verify as there are many institutions issuing certificates, diplomas and other work-related documentation. And finally, paper-based documents can get lost, which makes it impossible for the holder to prove that she or he actually has a certain education or qualification.

With the recent standardization of verifiable credentials and in-progress pilots with the T3 innovation network (U.S. -LED), European digital credentialing initiative (E.U-Led) and OpenCerts (Singapore), “we are reaching better E2E demonstrations of fitness,” Duffy added. There are some technical hurdles to cross. “What if you lose the private key that allows you to prove control [over the credentials]?” asked Duffy. Nevertheless, technology is not the main bottleneck, he explained. “it is the socio-technical integration of rules-based, autonomously operating DLT systems In complex social environments.” Alex Grech, a managing partner of Strategyworks, agreed that the more complex challenges are not necessarily technological in nature. “Even within the European Blockchain Services infrastructure project, the commission may develop or fund the most sophisticated blockchain infrastructure available to EC member states and provide for free. But it will not maximize its potential until a raft of policymakers and education institutions decide to ‘buy into’ the solution since they are likely to be locked into existing technologies and procedures.”  

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