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How blockchain can benefit eLearning industry

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2017 was the year when words like ‘blockchain’, ‘cryptocurrency’, and ‘bitcoin’ created a lot of hype. Bitcoin went from $1000 in January 2017 to a skyrocketing $20,000 in December 2017. Such a boom in prices is likely to grab the mass attention. However, it is not a matter of the price but of what cryptocurrencies and blockchain networks offer. 

History

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Satoshi Nakamoto, the creator of Bitcoin, was the person who released the first blockchain network in 2008. The aim was to provide a decentralized network for smoother deposit and withdrawal of money without any restrictions and third party involvement.   

What is blockchain? 

In simple words, a blockchain is a chain of data blocks maintained by multiple computers and not owned by a single entity. It is a solution for trust issues as it is a decentralized network which cannot be corrupted. The data is transferred without any transaction fees from location A to B securely. Thousands, maybe millions of computers across the blockchain network verify the transactions. 

Renowned industries using blockchain

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  • SBI Holdings from Japan
  • Yes Bank from India 
  • ALFA Bank from Russia 
  • Commonwealth Bank from Australia

We have had a look at what a blockchain is, how it works, and its popularity. Let’s now look at what it can offer to the eLearning industry. 

Decentralizing eLearning – Blockchain puts forward a possibility to decentralize eLearning platforms completely. This will create new opportunities for decentralized platforms and Learning Management Systems for academic learning. Decentralizing eLearning will create a new peer-to-peer network which will not be maintained by a central authority. This will also help in standardization across multiple educational establishments with everyone on the platform using a single currency, regardless of their geographical and professional background. 

Data security – A blockchain stores data in packets called blocks. These blocks are arranged in a chronological order to form a line, that is a chain of blocks. If you need to make a change to the data in a particular block, you don’t rewrite that information. Instead, a new block with new information is created showing that X changed to Y at a specific date and time, making of tracking of data changes easier. This increases the security of the data as there is no single attack point which gives access to all the data. 

Using this approach to secure student data is a feasible option as there is no risk of a hacker changing their grades, deleting certifications, etc.

Secure certification – At present, document verification and background checks take a lot of time as the only way to verify degrees and certificates is by contacting individual institutions. People have multiple degrees and certificates, making the process even more complicated and time-consuming.

Using a blockchain for such verification has made it all easy. How? Institutions can include the certification details of a person to the online record, and the details are openly accessible. Management can easily verify all the details through the record. 

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Similarly, students gain full control over their details. They can see and confirm their details on the blockchain. 

Better tracking – As more and more instructors join the blockchain, the information in their database becomes open and can be effortlessly accessed from any corner of the world. This is a huge advantage for students as they do not have to carry their documents with them, and the entire information is readily available on the web. 

Better learner engagement – As ‘cryptocurrency’ is the buzzword nowadays, people are always excited to be linked to them in one way or the other. Awarding leaners in the form of cryptocurrencies can increase learner engagement and course completion rates. 

Conclusion

This is just the beginning of ideas that involve usage of blockchain in the eLearning industry. Blockchain is believed to transform the online education industry completely. Surely there will be many more innovations that combine eLearning and blockchain.

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TUT Staff
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