The academic sectors were requiring a new method of streamlining the verification of student qualifications for employers, rather than having to wait for students to be issued academic transcripts. Blockchain technology’s potential to innovate record keeping caught the attention of a group of forward-thinking adopters in academia who introduced the concept of using blockchain technology to issue digital certificates to verify students’ education results. 


Problem

Before the idea of using blockchain was introduced, employers had to wait for students to forward through academic transcripts of their results before they could determine if they had the right qualifications for the roles they were applying for. This resulted in extended waiting periods before students could be employed and also left employers short-staffed during the employment process.

Moreoverthere is not a mechanics that is efficient enough for employers to verify the files or academic data provided by the candidates. Considering the possibility that the files could be falsified, it is essential to obtain a reliable way to manage the academic data. 

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Traditional qualification certificates have quite a few drawbacks


How blockchain can help solve this problem 

The creation of a decentralised ledger enables employees, universities, graduate schools and numerous other related entities to be able to validate academic records quickly and seamlessly than waiting for students to submit a printed transcript. Because blockchain also encrypts data, academic records are kept more securely than other database management systems. 

Because blockchain can be integrated into a wide range of applications and systems, its versatility helps overcome many data management challenges. This enables academic institutions to simplify policies and procedures. Blockchain also requires very little upkeep, with the primary cost being a software program that is used to integrate the data with blockchain. 

As blockchain is an automated system there’s no need for human action to access the academic results, instead this can be done directly by the employer interested in hiring the student. To provide this service using a blockchain system, the official source (university or graduate school) forwards information to the blockchain and with each new item added a verification process then links this to other academic transactions. 

In conjunction with being used as a data management system allowing access to qualification data, blockchain can also be used to streamline other academic record keeping. For example, blockchain could be used to track students’ financial aid or even to verify their faculty tenure.

As blockchain encrypts the stored data, it’s virtually impossible to tamper with files. This ensures that hackers can’t steal or change the academic data. This multi-layered security makes blockchain far more advanced than many other data management systems.

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Overview of the digital certification architecture deisgned by MIT Media Lab

Blockchain qualification records can be accessed securely through mobile devices

With the ability to access data written on blockchain through an app, qualification records can be viewed quickly and easily by employers on any mobile device. All that’s necessary to offer this data access option is to send a link through to the employer who uses a secure gateway to access a validation site. Links can be messaged or sent by email. 

In conjunction with storing qualifications through blockchain,  there’s also an opportunity to record other relevant academic data of interest to employers using this method. For example, students could have a record of any awards they’ve received through their study in their blockchain data or list community service they’ve been involved in which relates to their field.

Business examples using Blockchain for educational data management 

Both the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Texas have introduced Blockchain to manage and allow verification of students’ qualifications.

Limitations of blockchain

There are some limitations of using blockchain for education data management. As blockchain is a new technology, adopting it successfully across the entire education system is a massive project, which is a limitation of changing the current system. Also, while it’s far more unlikely that blockchain could get hacked with the security measures in place, it’s not 100 percent hack proof. But these limitations could be deemed as minor when compared with the benefits.

Incumbents involved

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Reference

  • https://edtechmagazine.com/higher/article/2017/09/experts-see-new-ways-track-learning-experiences-blockchain
  • https://www.the74million.org/article/sony-and-ibm-team-up-to-make-education-data-more-secure-and-easier-to-share-with-blockchain-system/
  • https://www.timeshighereducation.com/news/what-blockchain-technology-could-mean-for-universities#survey-answer
  • http://www.maltatoday.com.mt/news/national/80704/government_launches_first_blockhain_initiative_in_education#.WdHP-BNL_fY
  • https://www.cio.com.au/article/618457/university-melbourne-trials-blockchain-micro-credentials-lecturers/
  • https://govinsider.asia/digital-gov/patrice-choong-ngee-ann-polytechnic-campus-ecosystem/
  • https://medium.com/mit-media-lab/what-we-learned-from-designing-an-academic-certificates-system-on-the-blockchain-34ba5874f196
  • https://medium.com/mit-media-lab/certificates-reputation-and-the-blockchain-aee03622426f