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Is Blockchain capable of damaging higher education?

5 min reading

Blockchain is trying to play its part in education sector by record-keeping for 2-3 years and later on planning to be adopted by Labor market. Before the pandemic hit our lives, people had the right to seize ownership and were able to control their educational credentials with holding documents like degrees and transcripts from schools, universities and governments.

Blockchain is trying to play its part in education sector by record-keeping for 2-3 years and later on planning to be adopted by Labor market. Before the pandemic hit our lives, people had the right to seize ownership and were able to control their educational credentials with holding documents like degrees and transcripts from schools, universities and governments. This idea was supported by the American council on Education last week in a study funded by the United States Department of Education and their concentration was mainly on using blockchain in higher education. 

“Blockchain, in particular, holds promise to create more efficient, durable connections between education and work,” wrote Ted Mitchell. He is the president of ACE, in the forward of the study he added. “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 part of the report is personal data agency which basically describe how “distributed ledger technologies can ‘democratize’ data and empower individuals with agency over their personal information.” 

“currently, when individuals need to prove their education and workforce records. However, the 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.” What one must learn is that educational credentials are stored in centralized systems and one problem that is related to this is that data can be changed, deleted and shared without consent or knowledge of the individuals who actually created this data. So, basically blockchain technologies are “inherently more transparent, persistent and secured by encryption,” said the report. 

The pandemic has increased the demand for digital credentials, “because of that existing educational blockchain-related pilots, I expect these credentials will be commonplace over the next 2-3 years.” This end-to-end pilot program showcasing learner controlled digital diplomas and degrees on a blockchain is set to run later in 2020, while the second one will describe digital transcripts. The present pilots include both permissioned blockchains-with credentials stored off-chain which could easily utilize blockchain-anchored identity registries. Another factor is the usage of decentralized identifiers/verifiable credentials architecture which was used in one of the most recent projects with no privileged roles. 

Christopher Allen, the primary architect of Blockchain commons, an open infrastructure corporation says, “this makes it possible for there to be P2P (peer-to-peer) competency credentials, from fellow students, teachers, co-workers, clients, contractors, employers and not just educational institutes.” Allen can a jarring statement such as,” Kim has a mastery level of competence in leading international level technical standards processes,” and this is something that no educational system will claim, but considering Allen’s history with him being a reputable co-author of successful co-author of SSL/TLS this report will be hard to be conveyed to Kim’s future employers. “These types of claims I believe, will be an important part of the future of educational credentials,” said Allen. 

There are other concerns regarding the current system with fraudulent diplomas included, Hanz Pongratz the chief information officer at the Technical University of Munich said. “There are diploma mills and online shops around …you can never select the right paper thickness and seals.” According to Roman Beck the diploma is “failure prone and subject to all sorts of fraud.” Most recently after the standardization of verifiable credentials and in-progress pilots involving the T3 network, “we are reaching better E2E demonstrations of fitness,” said Duffy. There are some impending technical errors to overcome. “What if you lose the private key that allows you to prove control [over the credentials],” asked Duffy. In this worst case-scenario a request can be made but the chances are you still being bound to the issuer. 

Even after all this Duffy believes technology is not the cherry on the cake instead, “It is the socio-technical integration of rules-based, autonomously operating DLT systems in complex social environments.” Alex Grech, a managing partner at strategy works believes non-technological related issues might be something to be considered as a threat. “small states like Malta and the Bahamas have been using blockcerts to notarise education credentials since 2017. Blockchain has been stated as something looing for a completion and in this case academic credentialing seems like the answer as according to the reports by BBC the present academic degrees is swaying a bit, with the global labor market increasingly becoming mobile this world seem to be in strong need of decentralized, borderless, tamper-free ledger of verifiable credentials which could prove to be beneficial for both education and the broader labor market.

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