Blockchain Powers Bitcoin and More!
It’s hard to ignore Bitcoin; nowadays, it’s more than mere speculation. Corporations throughout the globe are starting to change their vantage point on cryptocurrency. In fact, many banks and other financial institutions are incorporating digital assets into their business culture. The technology that gives power to Bitcoin is Blockchain; it’s rapidly weaving itself into the fabric of society.
What is Blockchain
Blockchain technology is revolutionizing the world. In fact, academic institutions throughout the globe are taking advantage of the technology by adopting streamlined approaches to data storage, credential verification and tuition collection/reimbursement.
Blockchain is an open-source encrypted ledger that allows information to be stored without being manipulated once a new block of code is added to the chain. It’s often associated with cryptocurrency, but the technology is being explored in a variety of industries (technical.ly.com, 2018).
Blockchain Powers EdTech’s Economic Blueprint
As mentioned in the latter, industries such as EdTech are beginning to take full advantage of blockchain technology. Massive Online Open Classes (MOOCS) affords users the opportunity learn content online without adhering to any specific time frames, unlike traditional higher education institutions.
MOOCS allow potential students to learn at their desired pace. Henceforth, why these institutions are becoming very popular. Not only are MOOCS soaring in popularity, they are also creating a new online economy. In fact, “the EdTech industry is projected to be worth over 90 million dollars by 2020” (hackernoon.com, 2019).
Blockchain technology helps MOOCS operate more efficiently by providing cloud storage solutions and security against nefarious activity. MOOCS are able to store student files on a decentralized ledger that can be viewed by peer-to-peer users (i.e. instructors and professors).
Once the data is collected and stored on the distributed ledger it becomes ineradicable. By streamlining the accessibility of files amongst peers, blockchain eliminates the need for third-party verification.
Faculty members would be able to track students quickly and easily by reviewing information on a distributed ledger. The days of physically transferring files from one academic institution to the next would become obsolete.
The distributed ledge technology would drastically reduce the need for administrative overhead. In fact, STORJ, an open sourced cloud sharing system that rewards participants with revenue “kick-backs” for hosting enrollment.
Blockchain solutions within the EdTech space are also creating pathways to give students functional ownership of their own data. Currently when a student wants to render an official copy of his/her academic records, that student must wait for the schools registrar’s office.
This time spent waiting could hinder the student from applying to other academic programs and or jobs. Given that immediacy that blockchain affords, within certain use cases, ecosystems could be created that would give students power over their academic data. This power could allow for frictionless transfer of information between institutions.
Blockchain Protects Against Academic Forgery
Post-Secondary academic institutions are now utilizing blockchain technology for protection from fake credentials and copyright infringements. According to the BBC, One “diploma mill” in Pakistan sold over 200,000 fake academic degrees online, grossing over 37 million dollars in 2015.
During the raid of the illegal facility in Pakistan, investigators discovered thousands of prominent United Kingdom citizens such as, defense contractors, nurses, ophthalmologist, psychologist, one medical school professor and many more had purchased fraudulent degrees. They also seized several hard drives loaded with fictitious school crest and seals.
Blockchain technology streamlines the academic verification process by allowing users to immediately verify credentials within a fraction of the time when compared traditional methods.
Traditionally, in order to retrieve academic records, an institutions administrative staff would have to comb through physical files. In some cases, this process would take days or even weeks to retrieve a single transcript for a potential employer.
Blockchain prevents academic forgery by assigning a “hash” value (encrypted digital signature) to academic certificates at the time of issuance. Once the “hash” is digitized and stored on the blockchain, it then serves as a reference point for authenticity.
If the cryptographic hash is altered in anyway, it will not match the stored value on the actually blockchain. If any changes are made to the stored data, the hash value will be different.
Blockcerts is an open sourced platform for creating, issuing and verifying blockchain-backed certificates. Last year, hundreds of MIT graduates elected to receive cryptographic versions of their degrees on Blockcert’s blockchain (builtin.com, 2019). Potential employers can easily access the blockchain and make instant verification.
Blockchain Powers Autonomous Smart Contracts
With proper implementation, smart contracts can be designed to ensure a student’s tuition payments/reimbursements are released when certain protocols are met.
“Smart contracts, are autonomous phenomenons of blockchain utility, that streamline the signing of contracts and manual handling of payments” (mstechlennialmom.com, 2019). ETH was the first digital entity to transmit smart contracts on a blockchain back in 2013 (cryptocoremedia.com, 2019).
Collaborators: Sherri Pendleton and Alston Clark
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