I work on blockchain and I work on education. I wrote about education as a DAO before. But because that was a thought experiment, today I want to tell you about what I think the near future will look like. Or at least I hope this will be the near future.
First, diplomas are becoming less important. Big tech companies hire people for the people they are and teach them afterward. And universities are also thinking about their role in the next ten to fifteen years. Like Avans University of Applied Sciences in the Southern part of The Netherlands. Avans was chosen as the best large university of applied sciences in The Netherlands for five years in a row and the local newspaper had an interview with chairman of the board Paul Rüpp.
Rüpp tells in the interview that the school is going to make their courses and studies more flexible. He paints us a picture of a future in which students also work and only follow the courses that the employer requires. And Rüpp isn’t the only chairman talked about the sustainability of diplomas in The Netherlands. Paul Rosenmöller, head of the Council for Secondary Education (VO-raad) made the same kind of statements in March of this year.
And if that is the future (and I strongly believe it will or should), this will change the way we would like to display students results. Because results aren’t just simple grades, certificates or diplomas anymore. For my project BlockChange.EU I use the following images to show how I think we need to change the way we look at students.
But a student isn’t Ronaldo, so we need a more detailed look at who a student is. Michelle Weise wrote an article for the Harvard Business Review about visualizing people’s skills. Using the data from 25 million job postings, Weise company created a grid to show the skills that employers demand from their applicants. This grid could be another way of showing your skills.
But how would you be able to show this kind of data? You would have to have a lot of datapoints. And the ideal way to store a lot of datpoints from different contributors (schools, educational applications, external certifying agencies, internships) in a network around a student is blockchain. Every learning moment with every teacher, using every app would be stored on blockchain and that data would be the result ánd next step in a student’s development. The learning moment, the learning experience a student has, guided by a teacher, is the start and finish of this vision.
But if you make blockchain the foundation for this vision of the future, what could that do for education, besides being a different way of storing data in a network? Ermos Kyriakides wrote a piece on that on Hackernoon.
And he describes three powerful changes for education. Following his layout, I’ll show you how the grid and blockchain and the future of education are a match made in heaven.
1.Proof of Ownership
Who owns student data? The student? The school? The organization contracted by the school or district? The government? In my vision it is the student: it is your development, your learning path, your life. And you are the owner of your data. In blockchain you are. And you decide who can see, add and use information you provide. And who is cut off from your data.
But that’s not the only thing: you can easily prove you are the original content creator, you can build a transparent (and proven) work portfolio, teaching autonomy and self-assuredness.
2. Decentralized Information Sharing
But the blockchain is also decentralized and that makes global information sharing a lot easier for both students and for information. Fleeing from a conflict area? Emigrating? Your credentials travel with you, without a lot of bureaucratic trouble or the feeling you are entering a Kafka novel. You can take off from where you left.
3. Tokenized Economy
The last topic Kyriakides talks about is tokenization. And yes, Open Badges are a thing in education. And if you don’t know them, check out https://openbadges.org. But the tokenization in the Hackernoon-article is a way blockchain and education could be part of online/distant learning. But I believe in the power of student-teacher interaction. And that demands student-teacher contact. But maybe I’m missing something in my view.
In short: in my vision for the future, education is a series of learning experiences of which the results will be stored on blockchain for later use by the owner of that data, the student. And that data can be visualized in several ways to help students show what they can and help them take the next step in their development. Let’s embrace that future and take that first step with me. And tell me how you think we should develop education.