5 Possibilities for Blockchain in Education Technology

Akhil Mittal July 26, 2018
Imagine if an infrastructure which is available, and everyone can securely process transactional code and access the data that can never be tampered. All the transactions are stored in a form of a block which is very hard to manipulate or tamper once they are stored on a blockchain. This is the behavior of blockchain where you can store the data in the most trustworthy way in the scenarios where there is no trust. Blockchain obviously is not a place where you can store a large amount of data for every transaction. For e.g. you cannot store a lot of images or documents in bulk, but you can for sure store an information that can validate that your documents or images are tampered with or not. Most data stored on a blockchain is focused on transactions and states of objects, rather than the actual objects themselves. The Legacy and Drawbacks It was made very easy to transfer/share audio files using Napster (a network for file sharing in 1999). Since it used a centralized directory network, it was called a mixed peer to peer network. Users using this infrastructure had the flexibility to retain a copy of the file shared, and so a single digit asset retention led infinity number of copies to be stored on a network that was global. The technology was benefitted with a computer with so ease that it got Tower Records which eventually led to the shutting down of around its 89 stores based out of U.S. by 2006. There was the challenging need to create a digital infrastructure which is mediator free and available to transfer digital assets freely and reliably. The infrastructure’s demand was to be secure, the transfer should be peer to peer rather than shared or copied, could be trusted and should not have any central governing authority. Blockchain in Education Industry Blockchain’s capabilities are not limited to Bitcoin and financial transactions, rather it has a wide scope that could be leveraged in our education industry as well. Blockchain can have its implementation in educational institutions like universities, in the publishing industry or in a group of an educational institution as well. It could be used to avail education data, qualifications and credits in a more secure and transparent manner. Following are five areas where blockchain technology would be an excellent choice to be used. 1. Education Institutions Universities and other educational institutions that offer a project-based education or training can leverage the blockchain technology to generate a tamper-proof certificate for their students. An encrypted certification with two-factor authentications could be kept in the blockchain database generating a unique decentralized number that could be used by the authorities for authenticity. This will prevent anyone to produce a fake or non-authentic certificate. Few international education institutions have already adopted this methodology to ensure certificate authenticity and security. 2. A global database for qualifications Not limited to just storing a certificate securely, but using blockchain technology a global (international) database could be created where an individual does not have to store their paper degrees and qualification certificates which are very much prone to lose or tampering. A blockchain-based platform could be established to store all the qualifications information which could be used with authorities like VISA officers to check the authenticity of an individual if he is travelling cross-border or migrating, Company’s management to check the authenticity of their employee or if they are hiring a new employee, Education institutions to check the background and authenticity of produced qualifications by an individual. 3. Learning Platforms Individuals in corporate offices or students in educational institutions can have a platform where they can seek online training or sessions with their peers/bosses or teachers respectively. An independent learning platform could be established between a trainer and a trainee and the terms and conditions for training like projects, tasks, fee, duration of training could be easily agreed upon between both the parties and could be stored as smart contracts for a transparent and secure execution thereby eliminating the concept middleman who can make money via this. 4. Corporate Learning There is a need for a more secure and transparent system for the employees and the companies in which they work for corporate training. Tracking the achievement of an employee or on overall company’s capabilities of providing huge training is a challenge and hard to measure. The legacy learning management systems and technologies are outdated now. Blockchain technology in this space can play a key role in keeping the track of all the training done and employees achievement on those in a more secure and transparent manner where an employee can also leverage this record to showcase to his new employer. 5. Secure Payments Students can use this platform for paying their tuition fee/ course fee to educational institutions via cryptocurrency. The Cumbria Institute for Leadership and Sustainability had already announced an option in 2014 where students can pay their fees in bitcoins. Accepting payments via bitcoins does not have to depend upon a big infrastructure but is the more secure mode of payment. Moreover, the international students or students located globally can find this an effortless way to pay their fee and do not have to depend upon third parties who can make money via charging the fee or conversion rates to students or educational institutions. Magic’s Blockchain capabilities Magic EdTech and Magic FinServ are actively leveraging the blockchain technology to make their product and services more secure and decentralized. Magic is one of the rare organizations which offer end to end quality assurance on blockchain technology. Magic’s offering does not limit to QA but also diving deep into development. The capability includes development on blockchain technology and Microsoft Azure using Ethereum Consortium on Azure which provides the platform to develop and execute smart contracts on Ethereum blockchain using Solidity. Automation testing using Truffle while development is the integral part of all the blockchain development in Magic. Truffle helps us in development of the contract and its testing. The Truffle toolset also acts as an Ethereum development pipeline. Truffle has an inbuilt compiler to build our solution. It supports automated testing and makes it very easy to deploy the contract via deployment locations that are configurable in the solution. Truffle could be used in console mode and we can directly interact with our deployed contracts. The technology business unit of the company is actively working and integrating the cutting-edge technologies like Go-Lang, Corda, Hyperledger, Quorum and Manticore along with Ethereum blockchain development with Solidity and Truffle into their product offering and services. Conclusion In short, blockchain is a kind of data structure which is tamper-proof, and it tracks the digital assets as they pass from owner to owner. The digital asset could be a digital coin like Bitcoin, any document or the transaction could be a monetary transaction between anonymous strangers on the internet. It can for e.g., give you an ability to store your medical information where only you have a secure access or someone you allow would have that access. Not only this but an asset with a digital fingerprint can also be tracked on a blockchain. The blockchain technology is positively affecting and could influence the education system and education technology in a more effective way. Blockchain accomplishes this outstanding coup rapidly and internationally with no central authority to govern. References
  • Blockchain – Blockchain Fundamentals
  • Blockchain Development
  • Akhil Mittal

    Akhil is a C# Corner MVP, Code Project MVP, ex- Microsoft MVP, a blogger, author who loves to write/read technical articles. He brings an experience of more than 12 years in developing, designing, architecting enterprises level applications primarily in Microsoft Technologies