Education reform is always a hot issue, but with blockchain technology, the potential for change is even greater. Blockchain could change the way we track and verify transcripts, degrees, and other credentials, and help make education more accessible and affordable around the world.
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Currently transcripts and degree records have been stored at universities, where students and alumni must verify their identity with government issued documents in order to get access to their records. But what happens if the university is destroyed or the government is overthrown?
Worldwide 1 in 7 people are unable to prove their identity, meaning they also lose access to educational records. For Syrian refugees, this lack of documentation is the primary reason for a 15 point drop in enrollment in higher education following the war.
With blockchain, anything that can be expressed in computer code can be stored in a decentralized ledger that is secure tamper-evident. If educational records were encoded on blockchain, all you would need to access them would be a private key code or USB drive.
Because it’s decentralized, the blockchain ledger isn’t vulnerable to single-point hacks or even natural disasters that could destroy a single computer node in the network - all of the information is backed-up within the blockchain. This technology could help refugees and other displaced persons around the world, giving them continued access to their educational records.
In the United States, more than a third of adults under 29 carry student loan debt. Nearly 1 in 3 students only attend school part time due to the high costs, and less than half complete their degree within 6 years. With growing movements to privatize schools, the costs of education will continue to rise, and discrimination could become an even bigger issue.
Blockchain can change not only the way we store educational records, but how we administer and verify courses as well. At the Institute for Blockchain Studies, massive open online courses are accredited with blockchain, using proof-of-truth systems and a curricula built from smart contracts. Meanwhile, MIT’s OpenCourseWare publishes free learning materials and awards tokens to content creators.
These blockchain-based learning systems allow more people to access education around the world, and without the barrier of high costs. Furthering this technology could create a global learning community where students gain access to courses at other institutions and compete with other learners outside of their own classroom or school.
Check out this infographic for more about education and the blockchain: