We are witnessing a tremendous buzz around the blockchain technology. Blockchain created the stir due to the bitcoins. However, there are much more scopes of blockchain technology beyond the bitcoins & cryptocurrencies.
Back in 2011, Bitcoins (the first cryptocurrency) traded for $1 each. Fast forward to 2018 – one Bitcoin is worth a whopping $16,000. In 2017, the global market for blockchain was at $708 million and is anticipated to reach $60.7 billion in 2024.
In laymen’s terms, blockchain is an electronic ledger. The blockchain technology is all about blocks of information that are secured by the algorithms, which are hard to manipulate or hack. As an electronic (digital) ledger, blockchain can be described as a distributed database, which provides unaltered records for every transaction and where every block identifies a cryptographic signature.
The blockchain platform is encrypted at multiple layers, subject to continuous modification and verification. It’s completely decentralized and no single system is involved. More importantly, blockchain is completely transparent, albeit secure. And open to all with proper credentials and clearance.
Every transaction blockchain is public, synchronized, and encrypted, ensuring security, minimal administration cost, and transparency.
Blockchain has got tremendous scopes in a wide range of sectors – Banking & FinTech, Government, Insurance, Healthcare, Energy, Transport, Retail, Border Control & Immigration, National Security, Taxation, Waste Management, and even the Music industry.
One of the sectors that Blockchain technology can literally revolutionize is the Education sector. In this post, we will look into the scopes of blockchain technology in the education sector, and specifically the College Admissions process.
Scopes of Blockchain Technology in the College Admission Process
In the college admission space, one of the toughest challenges is the verifications of the certifications, credentials (credits), coursework, and other documents like personal essays, letters of recommendations, project reports, dissertations etc. Here are the ways blockchain can disrupt the traditional college admissions process,
Sharing and Validation of Certifications
The third parties need extra effort to verify paper certificates. Verification is usually achieved by asking the issuing certification authority, i.e. certification authorities have to maintain a long-term archive.
Sometimes, sending results physically can take a long time, resulting in the inability of the students to meet set deadlines for college admissions.
While applying for postgraduate programs abroad, a student needs to obtain official transcripts from the home university (college of graduation). More often than not, the students need to arrange multiple copies in sealed envelopes with the signed or stamped seals/flaps.
Then there are additional verifications of credentials like WES evaluation for the US universities, Uni Assist evaluation for the German universities, NOKUT verification for the universities in Norway. Few European universities also ask for apostille requirements. All these cause a lot of problem to the students.
Blockchain technology could support the digital transformation of certification processes by accelerating the end of a paper-based system for certificates. Any kinds of certificates issued by educational organizations, in particular qualifications and records of achievement, can be permanently and reliably secured using blockchain technology.
Blockchain technology allows for users to be able to automatically verify the validity of certificates directly against the blockchain, without the need to contact the organization that originally issued them. Thus, it will likely remove the need for the colleges/universities to validate credentials.
The ability of blockchain technologies to create data management structures where users have increased ownership and control over their own data could significantly reduce educational institutes’ data management costs, as well as their exposure to liability resulting from data management issues.
Blockcerts, developed by MIT media lab together with Learning Machine is an open-source ecosystem for creating, sharing, and verifying educational certificates.
TrueRec, developed by the company SAP, is an Ethereum-based blockchain system that stores professional and academic credentials.
Creating & Maintaining a Digital Portfolio
The colleges and universities ask for separate documents like CV, Personal Essays, Letter of Recommendation, Standardized Test Scores, MOOC certifications, work experience, research publications, and other documents while evaluating an application.
Blockchain technology can store everything including attendance report in a single place. More importantly, they can be accessed by the evaluating bodies and the admission officers.
For example, at present, a graduate applicant has to report official GRE, GMAT or IELTS score through ETS, GMAC or British Council. Blockchain can make these steps much smoother.
More advanced blockchain implementations could also be used to automate the award, recognition, and transfer of credits, or even to store and verify a complete record of formal and non-formal achievements throughout lifelong learning.
Sony and IBM have partnered to create an educational chopine to “secure and share” an unspecified amount of student records. This platform could include things beyond graduation certificates like transcripts, attendance records, and more.
TEx, the University of Texas program for developing a better educational experience, is finalizing their development of ChainScript, which object to build an immutable portfolio for each student with blockchain technology. This portfolio will include things like credit, competence, micro-credential, degrees, and other records of achievement. This would further cut down on the cost of verifying applicants’ credentials for universities.
The Open Source University project is aimed to “provide educational and career history verified by blockchain technology in a transparent and traceable way.” On top of this, it offers a “tokenized” market between businesses, academia, and learners and uses algorithms to exclude the middleman”.
Determining the Value of Online Degrees and MOOC Certifications
With a variety of online and bootcamp courses in the market, it’s tough for the universities to judge the value of degrees, coding bootcamps, and MOOCs. The authenticity of the degree is not the main issue here; but, the extent of knowledge and skills of the candidate after completion of a course. It’s kind of similar to evaluating the grades of different universities.
The education community has not yet agreed on an equivalent unit value for modules across differing suppliers. Therefore, the blockchain may be able to show an indisputable record of a learner’s achievement but it does not yet solve the issue of what that combined record is worth (outside of the also indisputable internal and personal satisfaction of learning itself).
Blockchain is a technology that clearly has applications in the world of learning at the individual, institutional, group, national and international levels. It is relevant in all sorts of contexts: schools, colleges, universities, MOOCs, CPD, corporates, apprenticeships, and knowledge bases. Rather than the old hierarchical structures, the technology becomes the focus, with trust migrating towards the technology, not the institutions. It really is a disintermediation technology. – Donald Clark
Scopes of Blockchain Technology in the College Admissions Process in a Nutshell
Ease of Sharing – With the help of blockchain technology, students can share their degrees and related certificates with the college(s) with ease. The rights to allow a college/university with the access to the information stay with the student (applicant).
Immutability – Blockchain ensures that the information shared across is same for all. Once the students’ results are live on the blockchain platform, it cannot be altered or hacked in any way.
No Intermediates – One can bypass the urgency of hiring a central control authority or say an intermediator to keep the records of the shared information. No middleman is required.
Reduced Costs – For the transcripts sought by the students from the University, there is some cost involved. The blockchain technology is supposed to eradicate such costs.
Eliminating Paper Use – Blockchain can keep all the data like certificates, records of credit transfers, other student-related records for a lifetime without having to depend on a manual paper documentation process.
Many critics are saying that the blockchain is overhyped. But, I doubt that.
The number of blockchain-related LinkedIn job postings more than tripled over the last year.
Top business schools like NYU Stern, Duke Fuqua, MIT Sloan, Harvard Business Schools, Cambridge Judge, Wharton (UPenn), Stanford GSB, Oxford Said, INSEAD, Chicago Booth, and many more are introducing Blockchain courses into their MBA curriculums.
Many institutions are running pilot programs to test the blockchain solutions. The list includes the names like University of Nicosia, MIT, a few schools in Malta, etc. Delft, Boston, ANU, UBC, and EPFL has decided to collaborate on certification, where they all will share the same platform, that is Blockchain to issue, accredit and store certificates. This shows how blockchain is impacting the education sector, though at a slow rate at the moment.
If so many universities, companies, and tech startups are working hard to make the blockchain a reality in the education space, I reckon blockchain is not a mere hype. With a myriad of possibilities, blockchain technology is all set to take over the education space; especially the college admissions process. When? Well, the sooner the better.
Featured Image Credit: Systweak