Blockchains: Changing the World of Education As We Know It

Written by April Willis

February 1, 2021

Blockchains gained popularity among the cryptocurrency crowd around ten years ago. However, as the tech industry continues to explore the potential of blockchains, educational leaders have discovered how impactful this technology can be for the P-12 and higher ed world.

Defining Blockchain

A blockchain, in essence, is a distributed ledger. This means it maintains multiple identical and verified copies of records in various cloud locations.

History of School Record Keeping

Most school/student records, 30+ years ago, were maintained as paper files. There would be one ultimate log that recorded every absence in the school year or one master file cabinet that housed every transcript per student.

Then, around the late 1990s to early 2000s, many schools started making the transition from paper to digital records for certain data (e.g., student medical records or disciplinary records). But, most schools continued to maintain paper records even with the digital record-keeping systems. This was primarily due to lack of trust in the technology. Rightfully so, as one can imagine the frustration (and possible lawsuits) that would result if a system was hacked or if a vendor went out of business or back-ups weren’t made and a system wipe-out occurred.

However, as we are in the early years of this new decade, 2020 is affording us with even more technological advancements to reduce waste, automate processes, and streamline systems. Sound too good to be true? Well, meet the blockchain.

Using Blockchain in Education

Housing student records would be the most obvious and efficient way to utilize blockchain technology in education. For example, students would be able to provide a link to their digital diploma/certificate which would not only help the institution go green, but would prevent the fraudulent distribution of credentials. Additionally, cloud storage would allow schools to regain and repurpose file room space and save on printing costs.

Furthermore, transcripts and transfer students always required manual verification of records. However, blockchain technology removes that need as the blockchain can be programmed to verify records, cross-check course requirements/content, and manage authenticity.

Students could also utilize blockchains to publish their work, post videos of performances, or include certificates of excellence. Their blockchain could essentially become their digital portfolio filled with data, work samples, and verified credentials. All of this ready to be shared at the student’s discretion, when applying for higher education or a career.

It’s not just about the students though. Blockchain can be used to house contracts, sell school spirit merch, and obviously all HR data. From background checks to verifying employment history, blockchain has you covered!

The possibilities are endless. Blockchain can house & verify data and interface with authorized individuals to add or share data. It lowers our carbon footprint with drastically reduced waste, it lowers costs by saving workforce time to verify records, and it is considered to be significantly safer than most other cloud platforms because the records are considered distributed- in other words, they do not exist in one place that could be compromised, rather in multiple cloud spaces, so back-ups are built-in.