By Mr. Vikram Kumar, Co-Founder & Managing Director, SRV Media Pvt. Ltd
The education sector is one of the most important human capital investments that a country can tap into for its socio-economic development. It is expected to gain more prominence in the coming decades. It is estimated that:
- Global education and training expenditure will become a $10 trillion market by 2030.
- The sector will witness more than one billion secondary and post-secondary graduates.
- Each year, the sector will need 1.5 million teachers on an average.
As far as India is concerned, it is one of the largest education sectors in the world and is expected to emerge as a single largest global talent provider in the next decade.
This kind of exponential growth calls for comprehensive adoption of technology to achieve desired educational outcomes. At present, technologies such as virtual and augmented reality, voice recognition, artificial learning and robotics are already making waves in fostering interactive, collaborative and multi-sensory learning. However, it is the blockchain that is now touted as the future technology that will both disrupt and simplify education.
The simplest definition of blockchain is that it is a shared digital asset that can’t be forged, altered or hacked. Though it is completely open to everyone who is on the shared network, it is completely tamper-proof with an extremely high level of authenticity. The users can decrypt the information only when they have access to a private key.
The Relevance of Blockchain in Education
As traditional education gradually migrates towards distance learning, digital learning, online databases and decentralization, educational institutes and administrative bodies will need a system that will be transparent yet ensure authenticity and security. Blockchain does that – it provides an immutable structure.
Let’s take a look at three ways blockchain will act as a game-changer in the education sector.
- Academic Record-Keeping and Credential Verification
Educational institutes generate a humongous data of personal information of students/staff/other contacts, enrolments, attendance, examination results, physical assets, income and expenditure, etc. This data, whether stored on cloud or in physical form, is prone to security breaches and loss of privacy for stakeholders. The stolen data is then used by offenders to create fake credentials, degrees and certificates.
Blockchain will enable institutes to maintain its administrative records and student credentials virtually through public and private cryptography methods. This ensures that stakeholders can access data as and when needed without tampering it. For example, when students enter the job market, employers can use blockchain to verify their educational credentials as mentioned on the resume.
Blockchain can store and access digital assets of institutes without needing much physical infrastructure and security. Blockchain will replace paper and save both time and cost for institutes.
A smart contract is an agreement between two people; the only difference is that it is in the form of a computer code. It automatically executes once a set of predetermined conditions or instructions are met by either party. A smart contract is a highly valued feature of blockchain.
For instance, smart contacts can be used between teachers and students to validate attendance and assignment completion or transfer micro-credits. Smart contracts can also be executed to pay salaries to teachers, provide scholarship to students and grant government funds to institutes.
- MOOCs and OSUs
Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and Open Source Universities (OSUs) are becoming quite popular among students. While the number of enrolments in MOOCs and OSUs are on a steady rise, they have still not become mainstream alternatives in education. The reason is that there is a general misconception about their credibility and accreditation among students and employers.
Blockchain will overcome this drawback. The institutes operating in MOOCs and OSUs domains can create a unified blockchain database which can be used by stakeholders to store and access credentials as well as make micropayments for some courses, which otherwise are free. Blockchain provides the much-need reputational value and authenticity to MOOCs and OSUs.
Blockchain will change the business model of the education sector and revolutionize learning. At present, the technology is still in the nascent stage in the education sector with only a handful of early adopters. However, as the positive outcomes of blockchain in education begin to gain visibility, it will gain more acceptance among institutes and become a universal norm in education.