by Robert DeVoe
In a whopping 136-page report labeled Blockchain In Education, authors Alexander Grech and Anthony F. Camilleri detail several potential use cases and disruptive scenarios in which blockchain technology could be used to secure the authenticity of education credentials. One possible goal of the project could be a learning passport. This document would keep track of credentials, such as college degrees, certifications, and other formal experiences.
Fake Degrees and Degree Mills
Today, anyone can claim on their resume that they went to any university and earned almost any degree. Back in 2006, the now former CEO of Radioshack resigned after allegations of using two false degrees were proven to be true. Then again in 2012, the CEO of Yahoo faced a similar fate when news got out about his claimed but non-existent bachelor’s degree in computer science.
If an employer wants to confirm the veracity of a candidate’s credentials, they have no recourse but to call the university or college and ask them to verify if the degree is real or not. This process is not always straightforward and presents some privacy concerns.
Things get even more complicated when degrees are earned, or claimed, at institutions in other countries. The confusion is especially true if there is a language difference that may prevent an employer from being able to ask for verification of a degree.
The Blockchain Solution
In the EC paper, the authors include a section called “using blockchain as a lifelong learning passport,” and indicates that such a scenario may become true within the next several years. They describe the learning passport like this:
“Learners would store their own evidence of learning received from any source, and when shared, a blockchain would be sued for instant verification of the authenticity of these documents.”
To accomplish this from a technical perspective, the paper suggests the need for the creation of a “verified digital [shareable] identity” for all members of the chain.
Aside from formal qualifications like degrees, such a system could potentially hold and keep track of job experience, volunteer work, training courses, certifications, and so on.
Another benefit of digitizing records in this way is that it can “permanently secure certificates.” Under scenario one, the paper describes how original records and documents relating to degrees and certificates are often stored in centralized systems. These systems are vulnerable to “natural disasters and wars.”
School Transfers Made Easier
Another interesting use case the paper covers is the likely ability to use the blockchain to keep track of college credits. If such a system were to be implemented, and be widely supported by different colleges and universities, it could make credits transfer among schools significantly more efficient.
Today, if a student at one university wants to move to another university, a long and complicated, and sometimes expensive process of making formal requests and mailing sealed envelopes must be done. This process alone can be so tricky that is may dissuade many from even attempting it.
All of this could be coming to Europe and other areas sooner than you might think. The paper lists a number of the scenarios as possible right now, or in the very near future.