Since blockchain technology is safe and utterly secure, storing essential pieces of information shall come in as a welcome relief to those working in the domain of education. From assessment reports to academic records, everything can be stored safely in the blocks that make up the blockchain technology.
Blockchain technology is also increasingly being used in various online courses and ePortfolios. The Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) systems are also all ready to address problems concerning authentication, scale and cost for several eLearning platforms. Students can also use the DLT systems to publish their accomplishments once they start looking for jobs.
As I mentioned above, many universities and institutes have applied blockchain technology into education, and most of them use it to support academic degree management and summative evaluation for learning outcomes. Blockchain technology can formulate the whole transcript. In the formal learning context, this includes learning contents and outcomes as well as students’ achievements and academic certificates. Subsequently, in the informal learning context, information about research experience, skills, online learning experience as well as individual interests are included. Translated, this means that not only are students being given control of their own data but the employers and other organizations receiving the information will be more informed about the student and their expertise.
Because all data is automatically run through pre-set procedures, errors are drastically decreased while efficiency is increased. Therefore, blockchain technology can not only significantly reduce the cost of labor but also improve efficiency of the organization. We all know that educational institutions could use lots of improvements in the efficiency department!
Due to the trait of currency property, blockchain can be used to motivate students by implementing “learning is earning” (Sharples and Domingue 2016). The smart contract between teachers and students can be applied to the educational scenario. Real-time awards can be given to students through some simple clicks by the instructors. Students will gain a certain amount of digital currency, according to the smart contract, as rewards. This kind of money can be stored in the education wallet, used as tuition, or even exchanged with real currencies. However, I feel this will be reserved for university level institutions due to the currency implementation.
Formative assessment has been advocated for a long time, and yet it is still not reliable because it is not easy to track every detail of teaching and learning. Applying blockchain and smart contracts can cope with this challenge. Due to the immutability, traceability, and reliability of blockchain, the data recorded on blockchain is more specific, authentic, and secure. Take “collaborative learning” for instance, which is regarded as an excellent way to carry out constructivism instruction and cultivate students’ ability to work with others. However, it is often accompanied by the problem of free-loading, which hinders fair evaluation. Blockchain technology can mitigate this issue. Each student submits his/her work to the learning platform through his/her unique account, the smart contract running on it will review the student’s performance, and the results will be recorded into blocks. All behaviors during collaboration will be saved into blocks as evidence for evaluation as well. Due to nodes in the blockchain network, students’ opinions would be taken into consideration when assessing them. In this context, blockchain ensures the fairness of the evaluation.
There are great opportunities for changing the profession for teachers as well. Instruction is sophisticated and artistic, making it difficult to evaluate. The traditional method based on students’ feedback tends to be one-sided, lacking subjectivity and is hardly helpful for the teachers’ improvement. A new assessment system can be constructed based on blockchain networks and smart contracts. First, teachers would submit lesson plans with instructional activities as a smart contract to the school. During the teaching process, all teaching activities will be recorded in the blockchain network, as mentioned above. The smart contract will verify the consistency of the teaching design and practice, which is going to be an important instruction evaluation indicator. This will allow a smart contract between teachers and schools, as well as the one between teachers and students that can be verified and supplemented with each other. Teachers who meet the standards will get digital currency as a reward. It serves as both an appreciation and encouragement for teachers’ teaching skills. Finally, a valid teacher evaluation system!
For more on blockchain benefits in education as well as companies that are top on the implementation list in education, check out this article.