Using Blockchain Technology to Advance Learning and Education
Imagine being able to have your entire education and career history readily available on demand. Your schooling, training, certifications, and skill sets. All of it passed along immediately on your command to whoever needs to know about you.
That’s a little taste of what a company called Edgecoin is trying to give you. Through Blockchain technology, they are providing Edgecoin tokens, which is a type of cryptocurrency, that would allow people to, for example, purchase an eLearning course and receive a certificate of completion online. They are also creating what they call “Smart Contacts” that would collect all that and store it. Because it is online and owned by the learner, it travels with them wherever they go. They can choose to share with whomever they wish in realtime.
They call it distruptive. Let’s forget the overuse of that term for a bit and see the details. It’s highly technical and not very grammatically correct, but you can read their whitepaper about it here.
What Does ALL That Mean and How Does It Work?
First, it may be helpful to understand a few of the terms that were just thrown out above.
What is Blockchain?
Essentially Blockchain is about the peer to peer transfer of digital goods. Like what? Well, the one most talked about in recent times is cryptocurrency. Edgecoin is that among other things. Bitcoin is another.
However, it is also possible with other digital content such as intellectual property, contracts, or medical data.
What is Cryptocurrency?
Some call it the next evolution of money. What cryptocurrency is realistically is a more secure way to perform financial transactions online. The crypto is short for cryptography. That’s the process of converting data into complex mathematical algorithms that are almost impossible to decode by the wrong people. That’s what makes it much more secure than standard payment methods.
Let’s think about what you may not like about purchasing things online.
- Concerns about the security of using your credit or debit card
- Will someone hack your back account and steal your money?
- Identity theft
Concerns about selling things online can run along the same lines. Forgery, fraud, rejected payments, and other issues.
Buying and selling using cryptocurrency would solve all those issues. There is no potential for hacking your credit card or bank account. Stealing your identity is out. Fraud and forgery are prevented because of the direct transaction and verification systems.
How Does the Blockchain work?
Let’s say you want to purchase an online course securely. The vendor accepts Bitcoin, the most proven cryptocurrency to date that is driven by blockchain technology. You go create a “wallet” to hold your Bitcoins, which have an equivalent dollar value.
When you make your purchase using your bitcoins, it is a direct transaction from you to the vendor. Unlike any other purchase say with a check or debit card, there is no middle man involved. No clearinghouse. As a result, it is more immediately able to be verified instead of verification taking 3-5 days.
We start with a block. a block is a single transaction made online. Therefore, a blockchain would be a continuing process of transactions.
Each block, which at a minimum contains sender, receiver, amount, and a datetime stamp, is stored in a de-centralized ledger.
Verification of the transaction is provided by “miners”. These are computers that dedicate some of their CPU to verifying and processing transactions via decryption. Transparency is the key to making all of this more secure. The ledger is publicly available and kept by multiple sites so fraud and forgery are virtually impossible.
Transactions with similar elements can be grouped together, such as blocks from the same sender or receiver.
While most blockchains are public, they can also be private; for example, within a single organization. But it could also lead to the creation of ecosystems of blockchains providing immediate and secure exchanges of digital goods.
Elearning and Blockchain
Where the possibilities for this exist in learning circles comes on a few levels.
First, there would be the obvious security of financial transactions as either a purchaser or vendor of eLearning. Using blockchain technology like Bitcoin or Edgecoin would make the sale go faster and much more securely.
Secondly, the possibility of providing content securely through blockchain. It would only go to who you intentionally provide it to. The cryptography would ensure against unethical or illegal use.
Lastly, an individual’s record of education, certifications, skillsets, and so on would travel with them and be available immediately anywhere.
It will still be a while before it is readily available for those applications but it is certainly worth watching. You may even want to wet your feet a bit in some of the technology now.