When education with e-learning is finding its home beyond the walls of schools and colleges, the complications on top are growing with it. With unlimited benefits, there are also some downsides to online learning:
The security of online learning programs is always vulnerable to frauds and framing.
The authenticity of completed courses remains a problem as anyone, rather than the actual student could complete the assigned projects.
The assessments can be faked, and computer-generated marks can be maliciously influenced as most of the assessments are knowledge-based and not the practicality-based.
If you are not attending an actual university to obtain a degree, you require something that would validate the competency of the online teaching platform that you are using. Something that would deliver the online courses as equivalent to the university courses by introducing an honest system for assessments. Altogether, you need something as secure as BlockChain in the e-learning industry.
After the BlockChain’s most prominent application, cryptocurrency, it has found its way to the e-learning industry. Hence, what is BlockChain? How will it revolutionize the e-learning industry?
What is BlockChain?
As the name suggests, BlockChain (Block + Chain) is a chain of blocks linked to each other. They append only transaction ledgers where you can record a new information, but cannot edit the previously stored information in the blocks.
Following represents characteristics of BlockChain that you should understand before continuing in this article. Because we will be utilizing these properties to explain, how BlockChains can reshape the education in the online environment.
Permanent and Secured by Cryptography:
Once you add a new block in the chain, its content is cryptographically linked to each block before it in the ledger. This modus operand prevents alteration in the original data by invalidating the data in all blocks after the altered block.
Decentralized & Consensus-driven:
BlockChains are highly decentralized with a large number of nodes (computers) connected in an extremely secure network. This reduces the chances of maliciously adding fake data to any of the nodes, as it would have to come in consensus with every other computer in the network.
No third party involvement:
BlockChains replace third-party mediators as the keeper of trust. They rely on mutual agreements from many entities in the network. Each node maintains its own copy of the data and all other nodes must validate any update collectively.
Public yet safer:
The data is safer even after going public, as anyone with access can access the content, but cannot maliciously modify without validation from each node.
Issues in education that BlockChain could address
- Validation of courses, grades, degrees and academic achievements
The current system for validating the academic backgrounds of an individual is much broken. Most of the educational institutions maintain a paper-based record of the students, quite complicated to manage. Moreover, there is barely a faster way to validate if anyone forges his or her academic background to get a job or admission in the higher studies. The only option left is manually reaching out the corresponding institution and asking for the validation. This, of course, will consume much of the time.
- Abridged versions and adaptations of degrees are easily found over the internet
In 2010, the former president of Microsoft China Tang Jun was caught of forging his Ph.D. from Pacific Western University. They found both his diploma and Pacific Western were fake that he got in $2,595 without any classroom instruction.
It explains how even biggest posts in the mightiest MNCs can be acquired by simply forging a college degree. Just think about the situation with the small and medium-sized businesses here. Nowadays, it is simple to create fraud degrees and certificates that can fool even the top establishments during the hiring process. The companies typically depend on a manual background check from the concerned institutions to be able to verify an employee’s qualifications. Until that time, one can simply keep on climbing to the higher positions like Tang Jun
- Validation of online courses in e-learning
Nowadays, a number of e-learning websites are already there on the internet. Not saying they are incompetent, but there is hardly a sole authority to validate these courses. No one questions about the competency of the courses from mighty names like Oracle, Microsoft and SUN MICROSYSTEMS; the small and medium-sized names face a hard time to establish such recognition. As a result, only a few of the leading names are able to achieve the required accreditation in terms of authenticity, course quality and competency. This is preventing the e-learning industry from growing as an alternative to classroom learning and making e-learning certificates equivalent to the degrees from educational intuitions.
Four ways BlockChain could revolutionize the e-learning
- Evolving the Current Education Model
Today when multiple e-learning platforms are available in the market, students receive education in both the settings- online and educational intuitions. Despite an immense popularity of online learning, it is still sought as a supplement to the classroom learning in most of the educational and other organizations.
With the application of BlockChain-based accreditation, the online courses can be easily validated. It can facilitate an official transfer of validated skills and credentials by the e-learning platforms, rather than honorable brick and mortar based institutions..
- Storing Records Permanently
We saw how one could easily get forged degrees and diplomas from the internet. Since BlockChains records are permanent and immutable, authentic degrees and certificates can be stored and shared without fear, regardless of a user gains access to the institution’s record-keeping system.
It provides a safer option to preserve sensitive records without worrying about the damages due to any natural or fabricated calamity. Therefore, certificates issued by an institution will stay in the records forever, even if the institution falls.
- Lifelong Learning Portfolio for Students:
The current system for e-portfolio is purely based on social network and job portals. These companies provide students, a way to record their learning experience during and after the school learning. However, there is no proper standardization of the resources and such companies to make their assets authentic. Every company maintains its own standards that are not global in terms of acceptance.
With BlockChain, learners could have a storage for their portfolios and evidence of not just formal but informal educations as well. They can share their portfolio with the desired audience and accept instant verification of the same. Open Badges gather evidence for credentials mentioned in the portfolio. Put differently, students will have an e-CV that updates itself as they gain the experiences. On the other hands, companies will face a reduced workload since they can verify these portfolios and instantly check whether the candidates possess the required skills.
- Corporate e-learning
Companies offer extensive training to their employees, but there is no global system for storage and assessment of the achievements. Every company has its own modules for training and development, and they primarily depend on custom online teaching platforms and classroom training to train their employees. Therefore, whenever an employee leaves an organization, the sole way to carry-forward the proof of their achievements is the experience certificates and letterheads.
At this point in the article, we know that even certificates and letterheads can be forged and scammed. The current corporate learning and talent management systems are a bit old and tired. There is a significant requirement for a more open yet secure system to globally store and verify the corporate achievements. With BlockChain, the employees would not just have a formal record of their training but would also be able to record their major to minor achievements during their stay in a company. Moreover, anyone with process access would be capable of checking out and verifying these records in record time.
Take a cue
BlockChain represents a technology of the future that has not seen its application to the fullest yet. It is beyond cryptocurrencies and has the abilities to revolutionize the individual, institutional and global levels of learning. Unlike the traditional approaches, the current technology offers the potential to become a focus with independent yet globally trusted accreditations.
The leaders have already adopted the tech. The MIT’s Media Lab is using cryptology and BlockChain to develop ‘Blockcerts’ for issuing globally accredited e-certificates to the learners. Moreover, ‘MIT OpenCourseWare’, an open platform for e-learning, offers one of the most trusted and globally recognized digital e-certificates to the learners.
Author Bio: I am a professional blogger, guest writer and Influencer. Currently associated with Pinlearn as a content marketing strategist.