Blockchain and Higher Education

This is a short post following up on my previous post on Blockcerts. Last week I attended a Block Exchange workshop as part of the Near Future Teaching initiative. These are just some of my thoughts and take aways from the event.

The workshop aimed to explore ideas on using Distributed Ledger Technologies (DLT) in credentialing education. The workshop started with an overview of DLTs using the example of Bitcoin that focused on how value is co-created between providers and users in constellations within networks. Within DLTs all kinds of ‘things’ that can be granted a value can be immutably recorded: products, poems, promises (of services), actions, etc.. which reminded me of a globalised or widely distributed (ie, non-local) Local Exchange Trading Scheme (LETS). This view was reinforced by a series of exercises (with Lego!) to understand DLTs.

We then broke in to groups to work on scenarios for using DLTs in education. Most of the scenarios centred around credit accumulation and transfer – pretty much 1-5 of the possible uses for DLTs in education outlined in this blog post and the basic single institute Blockcerts model being implemented by MIT. Perhaps the more radical model using DLTs to enable learners to accumulate credits mapped on to some form of learning pathway or qualification with learning activities from anywhere and, once the pathway is complete, automatically issuing an award. So universities *might* be involved in designing the learning or qualification pathway but would be unnecessary for delivering the teaching, learning and assessment.

Other scenarios envisaged by different groups was the use of DLTs to support peer-assessment processes such as students assigning social credit to one another. A number of participants raised the social credit example being planned in China (see this article).

So another interesting workshop and exploration of the potential of DLTs that opens up more interesting – albeit for the long term and with significant institutional hurdles – possibilities.










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