Over the last year or so, blockchain has emerged as the go-to disruptive technology for almost any industry. Companies are using it to change their way of doing business.
Take Electrify – a Singapore-based startup that allows clients to buy electricity on the blockchain – for example. It raised US$10 million in less than 10 days – a feat powered by its potential to help businesses cut costs. In China, ecommerce titans Alibaba and JD have teamed up to ensure food safety and authenticity of branded products via QR codes and blockchain.
Even the millenia-old education industry is getting in on the game, with big players like Sony and MIT developing blockchain solutions.
But how exactly will blockchain change education? Here are three ways.
Verification of certificates
A perennial problem with certifications is that nobody knows how to verify them. Using paper to prove one’s credentials seems like an antiquated system, especially since fake degrees from actual universities can easily be bought from eBay.
With no global certification database, employers often have to contact universities directly for information on an applicant’s credentials. In turn, university admission offices have to contact national registrars to validate applicant transcripts. This requires plenty of tedious back and forth that could be eliminated.
Because of this, placing certifications and diplomas on the blockchain seems like a logical step.
MIT is already experimenting with blockchain, giving graduates access to their certificates via an app called Blockcerts. This allows the university to accredit diplomas, while employers can be certain that all records are verifiable within the blockchain. While Blockcerts was built on the Bitcoin blockchain, it eventually expanded into Ethereum and aims to work across any blockchain network.
Apart from ensuring authenticity, placing certifications on the blockchain makes it less likely for diplomas to get lost, damaged, or misplaced.
Creating a one-stop education profile
While education institutions may be looking to place diplomas on their own blockchains, Japanese giant Sony is already consolidating an online depository of education records.
Built on the IBM blockchain and powered by Hyperledger Fabric 1.0, the system will centralize data from “multiple educational institutions” and “make it possible to record and reference educational data and digital transcripts.”
Eventually, Sony aims to sync all sorts of education-related data, ranging from students’ school registrations, attendance, grades, and educators’ lesson plans to students’ learning records, results, and so on.
In addition, students will be able to compile all their academic grades and records into a digital transcript for official uses.
Getting students ready for exams
Opet Foundation’s product is a tuition companion chatbot app that aims to provide users with lessons to help them prepare for examinations. Apart from answering student queries, the app is designed to recommend worksheets and problems for users to solve. It will then create education profiles for users, tracking their learning speed and grades. This information will be placed on the blockchain, allowing institutions to evaluate students based on their progress.
The chatbot is slated to go live in October 2018. Opet Foundation co-founder Ameya Kulkarni believes that blockchain can help bridge the class divide that limits opportunities for students. “Everyone takes the same national or matriculation examination, but people who are underprivileged or don’t have the access to the right kind of finances, end up falling behind or having to struggle a lot in admissions,” he explains.
For example, a student who is adept at advanced mathematics could be expected to fare well in engineering. Opet’s app can recommend students with related aptitudes to academic institutions that offer courses that they might excel in.
“We can go to universities and say, ‘Hey, we have studied the ideal candidates that you are looking for, and we have a few to recommend to you,’” adds Kulkarni.
Changing the education industry with hyperledger
While the transparent and immortal nature of blockchain means that records cannot be changed easily, Opet Foundation’s use of the Hyperledger Fabric adds privacy for students. The Proof of Authority framework ensures universities that wish to view a student’s records will only be allowed access to specific fields of the most updated information.
At the same time, only accredited nodes like universities and institutions will be able to edit entries on the blockchain, ensuring all information is trustworthy. All these are done with their custom API, which marries both hyperledger fabric and Ethereum.
With these innovations, Opet Foundation believes it is able to change the education industry as we know it, one step at a time. Paraphrasing a famous Victor Hugo quote, founder and CEO Wilson Wang says, “Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come, and the time is right to marry education, AI, and blockchain.”
Opet’s app is slated to go live on both iTunes App Store and Android Play Store in October 2018, targeting students in UK and international schools using Cambridge’s IGCSE and A levels curriculum.
Find out more about Opet Foundation and how it merges education with blockchain here.
This post Blockchain could revolutionize education next. Here’s how appeared first on Tech in Asia.