Breakdown of Blockchain in Indian Education Industry

114

 

  • Advancement in exponential technologies such as Blockchain and Virtual Reality is going to have a noticeable impact on the education domain worldwide.
  • As per the Draft National Education Policy 2019, “Blockchain technology will help in streamlining educational planning and management. The problem of fake degrees can now be solved very elegantly by the new Blockchain technology”.
  • In a Global Blockchain Survey conducted by Deloitte this year, 53% of the respondents said that blockchain technology has become a critical priority for their organizations in 2019—which is an increase of 10-point as compared to the previous year.

Blockchain Technology’s market revenue is expected to reach $20B by 2024. US spending on blockchain solutions alone is projected to touch $4.2B by 2020. (Source: Statista). Developing countries believe that Blockchain technology is an enabler of competitive advantage. (TATA Communications)

What is Blockchain and How Does it Work?

  • Blockchain consists of blocks that store transaction records, or records about official agreements between two or more parties (so-called “smart contracts”). Each block has a unique mathematical code called hash.
  • Blockchain is designed to be immune to fraudulent activities and human error.
  • Before a piece of information is added to a block, it has to be validated by nods, a peer-to-peer network of computers, servers, or other end-point machines. Only when the network of nods reaches a consensus, another block (new transaction data) is added to the blockchain.
  • Blockchain is decentralized, which means there isn’t a single person or organization that controls the entire system.
  • As blockchain transactions or blockchain-based contracts don’t require intermediaries like banks or lawyers, there are no transaction fees or the need for smart contracts to be verified by third parties.
  • Everyone in the blockchain network has a copy of the blockchain data (e.g. complete history of transactions), which makes it a transparent system.
  • Once verified by nods in the network, blockchain transactions and contracts become irreversible.
  • Blockchain and bitcoin are far from being synonymous with one another. Sally Davies, a reporter for the Financial Times, put it best: “Blockchain is to Bitcoin, what the internet is to email. A big electronic system, on top of which you can build applications. Currency is just one.”3 There are many uses for blockchain that have nothing at all to do with cryptocurrency; despite being very effective as the backbone for a transactional ledger for bitcoin, many of these same benefits are just as applicable to other industries

Impact of Blockchain Landscape in Indian Education Industry

Blockchain is believed to disrupt many industries including the education sector. It is projected that this new technology will help several companies reduce operational cost thereby saving huge sums of money.

Since its advent blockchain has come a long way. The technology’s capabilities over the past decade has emerged as a pragmatic solution to business problems across industries. Although, still at its nascent stage, the technology is looking promising to improve many business processes that connect platforms.

Block-chain investment is growing across most sectors. The year 2019 is the continuing evolution of blockchain to find how it can work for us. The education sector in India has witnessed a lot of radical changes in the recent past. The transition from traditional mediums of teaching and learning has undergone massive transformation with the adoption of technology. Digitization has had a sizeable impact on education delivery. Academic resources are moving from offline to online mediums.

With rising demands, there is enormous pressure on the education system to produce quality at an affordable cost. In view of this concern, the government’s policymaking arm – NITI Aayog is exploring the potential applications of blockchain technology across various sectors including education and healthcare. It is focussing on developing a proof-of-concept to explore blockchain in critical areas of education.

The government’s think tank has already organized a blockchain hackathon in which students from IITs, MIT, Harvard University, UC Berkeley College of Engineering, and top engineering institutions around the world participated. Some Universities in the country have started using blockchain applications to issue e-documents.

Blockchain technology can help eliminate some of the following challenges in the education system:

  • The threat of student data theft and misuse.
  • Difficulty in authenticating certifications and documents.
  • Infrastructural limitations and social challenges
  • Cost of administering and managing the education system.

Blockchain can solve all these problems and many more by providing an interconnected technology platform for managing operations. The use of Blockchain will be the next big step in transforming the education industry in India. It can be implemented on a single or group of educational institutions.

Usage of Blockchain in Institutes and Universities – Potential Trends and Practices

Universities and institutions can use Blockchain to streamline student services. Higher education institutes across the globe have already started taking benefit from this new technology to make their digital ledgers more secure and transparent.

Some colleges in the U.S. are using Blockcerts, an open standard for creating, issuing, viewing, and verifying blockchain-based certificates. These digital records are registered on a blockchain, cryptographically signed, tamper-proof, and shareable. Its initial design was based on prototypes developed at the MIT Media Lab and by Learning Machine.

IBM and Columbia University have announced a new partnership, the Columbia–IBM Center for Blockchain and Data Transparency, which will house research and education that explores even more ways to use this emerging technology.

Blockchains also supports in developing a comprehensive competency assessment framework. As competency and outcome-based education are intensifying, there is a need to capture a wider range of knowledge-building activities that go beyond classrooms. This would include pursuing new degrees or certifications for upskilling.

To this effect, the blockchain-based ledger would enable individuals to share verified work projects. It will help in streamlining the evaluation process through a more transparent exchange of information about an individual’s qualifications and experience.

Blockchain technology could become a standard format for issuing academic credentials in the near future. This will lower the cost of deploying resources to manage records. Using blockchain ledger, learners can track their own learning using a digital badge that is supplied by attesting institutions and is encoded into blocks on a certification authority’s blockchain.

Blockchain is already being used by a few institutions as a means to verify academic credentials like degrees, certificates, and transcripts.

Besides the above, there is also the potential for universities to use blockchain for collaboration. All the cross-institutional activities such as faculty research etc. can be logged in a blockchain network to provide verified transaction history.  Blockchain could be used to historically track educational agreements for a better understanding of the history of collaborations without having to rely solely on potentially outdated files or insight from colleagues.

Challenges to Blockchain Adoption in Academic Institutions

Despite its upsides, blockchain technology will need to overcome several obstacles before it can be mainstreamed with the education system. In spite of the common usage purpose, there is still no single standard for how a blockchain should be constructed. A different set of institutions is favoring different blockchain designs. Not finding a globally accepted standard would limit the adoption of this technology.

Another potential issue for blockchain would be the transferring of older records in the blockchain. These challenges will require a concerted effort to ensure that the standards for digital credentialing systems are robust to scale up in the education industry. The data stored on a blockchain is not inherently trustworthy, so events need to be recorded accurately in the first place.

Besides, the above-mentioned limitations, there are other concerns related to blockchain’s complexity, network size and speed, transaction cost, human error that need to be solved before scaling the technology.

 The Future of Blockchain Technology in Education Industry

Blockchain applications for the education industry are still in their infancy. The majority of attention is currently focused on other sectors such as Fintech as opposed to education, but blockchain technology can change the face of education in India and elsewhere.

Blockchain technology can replace a paper-based system for keeping educational credentials.  It can help educational systems automate and standardize many of their functions.

Although some headway has been made through Digi Locker for developing a decentralized automated network for keeping educational records, a lot more needs to be done.

Today, blockchain is a powerful innovation that has the potential to impact the world economy. There are use cases where businesses globally have been benefitted by using this technology in healthcare, retail, financial services, etc. As a technology platform, blockchain aids inter-organizational data management and helps in fostering more secured digital relationships.

Many industry leaders have already achieved significant business benefits, including greater transparency, enhanced security, improved traceability, increased efficiency and speed of transactions, and reduced costs. It is only a matter of time when the education industry in the country and across the globe will start reaping these benefits of using blockchain technology.

Comments