Blockchain in Education


Application and technology prospects

The daily growing popularity of cryptocurrencies draws attention not only to their market and impact on the economy, but also to the blockchain itself. This technology is changing the way data is stored and, probably, it can even be considered revolutionary in this area.

One of the areas where blockchains are actively integrating is the field of document storage and control. It is especially important to have guarantees that no one will be able to manipulate the data and that it will not be possible to overwrite it. Moreover, everyone is available information about who added a particular record to the system. This approach can be used not only for identification cards or documents for property, because it is no less suitable for the education sector.

Companies hiring new employees often have difficulty verifying the authenticity of documents. The head of MachineLearning, Chris Yagers, is convinced that blockchain is able to simplify the process of validating education data, which is now used all over the world.

History knows of a case where an ex-head of Yahoo filed fake graduation documents at Stonehill. Many then condemned the company’s human resources department for not properly checking their director.

The only method of such verification could only be sending a request to an educational institution. If the company makes a similar request, then it takes them up to two weeks for the request to begin to be considered and the same amount of time to get an answer. This will not cause inconvenience for small companies, but it is absolutely unsuitable for giants such as Yahoo, which every year take a lot of employees to hundreds of structures.

First developments

In order to study this important problem, the employees of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) conducted a study and demonstrated how to write data about the existence of a document on the formation of Bitcoin cryptocurrency on the blockchain and manage it.

To do this, they use one of the functions of the Bitcoin blockchain, which is called OP_RETURN and allows you to record additional information in each transaction. MIT proposes to calculate the hash of a document using SHA256 and attach it to a transaction, supplementing it with its encrypted signature. After five confirmations on the blockchain, this certificate will always be available in the system.

Philip Schmidt from MIT Media Laboratory believes that using blockchain technology and high-quality encryption can help create a perfect system for monitoring educational achievements. The employer will receive a resume in electronic form and can be sure of its reliability.

MIT do not hide their technology from the public and try to popularize it. However, the OP_RETURN function is not very suitable for solving this problem, because the amount of data that can be stored is strictly limited. Using this method is quite expensive and inefficient when it comes to a large number of documents.

Researchers from MIT decided to go further and began with MachineLearning to work on a project called Blockcerts. This project will also be based on the blockchain of the most popular cryptocurrency for writing secure certificates there, which are protected from unregulated use, but with one significant difference. It will be in the approach to issuing a certificate.

A graduate must first send the public key to his educational institution, which uses its key to hash the document and writes it to the blockchain. Thus, anyone can be sure of the authenticity of the certificate in the future.

Yagers states that now there is no more comprehensive service to solve this problem than this open standard. It includes everything you need to create and verify blockchain-compatible documents.

Start use

MIT and MachineLearning immediately found support for their Blockcerts project through the School of the Arts of Chicago, Yale and Stanford Universities. However, not only the best universities in the USA became interested in the possibility of using the blockchain. Similar initiatives, but in other projects, are also found in Europe.

The first educational institution that officially approved the use of blockchain for storing documents was the University of Nicosia. Moreover, this is the first educational institution that began to accept payment in Bitcoins. This university also provides open online courses in 83 countries. And his diplomas are recognized worldwide thanks to the European Association of Universities.

Use outlook

The options for using the blockchain in the education system are not limited to storing documents in a database. All the advantages of this technology can fundamentally change the education system, for example, contribute to online learning. The prevalence of online courses is constantly growing, because they are cheaper and allow you to get knowledge from anywhere in the world where there is Internet. And if you combine the various courses in blocks, you can develop training areas in many highly specialized specialties. In addition to all this, standards should be developed for the blockchain that will allow for the recognition of any diplomas and certificates anywhere in the world.


But what do we get if we standardize all diplomas and certificates and write them on the blockchain? What development opportunities does this give us?

Diplomas and certificates are known to confirm that the candidate has a certain set of knowledge and skills. Thus, if this data is stored in one system and distributed through it, then employing companies have the opportunity to create a system for searching for specialists with a specific set of skills. This regulates the demand for certain professions and stimulates the passage of courses in the most popular specialties at that time.

A candidate for the position will be able to obtain information about the knowledge that is necessary to apply for this job. Educational institutions, in turn, will offer the possibility of a dynamic choice of courses so that the student decides what skills he needs in the future.

Such an approach to reforming the education system can forever solve the problem of reducing the demand for training programs, which arises due to the too rapid development of the IT sector.

 What in the future

Labor market trends change every year. Technology is developing faster than ever, which leads to a change in the importance of different professions in all areas of work. The educational system also can not always provide relevant training programs, which sometimes become outdated even before graduates receive diplomas. With the creation of a system that would allow you to see the requirements for specialists in real time, an understanding would come of what changes in the education system should occur. Moreover, this would simplify the search for vacancies and combat unemployment among educated people. Such a register based on the blockchain is necessary for universities and graduates, and employers, and the education system.

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