What is Blockchain?

“A block chain or blockchain is a distributed database that maintains a continuously-growing list of transaction records hardened against tampering and revision. It consists of data structure blocks — which hold exclusively data in initial blockchain implementations, and both data and programs in some of the more recent implementations — with each block holding batches of individual transactions and the results of any blockchain executables. Each block contains a timestamp and information linking it to a previous block. The block chain is seen as the main technical innovation of bitcoin, where it serves as the public ledger of all bitcoin transactions.Bitcoin is peer-to-peer, every user is allowed to connect to the network, send new transactions to it, verify transactions, and create new blocks, which is why it is called permissionless. This original design has been the inspiration for other cryptocurrencies and distributed databases.” --Wikipedia

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(1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

  • - ashfordrowe ashfordrowe Aug 8, 2016 Whilst we/I don't have a current project, and I believe that there is still a lot to be better understood as to the potential transformative benefits of this technology, I do believe that blockchain could well have a significant impact on the recording of credentials and in many respects sits at the intersection of microcredentialing, assessment recognition and ePortfolios. - helga helga Aug 9, 2016 - paul.signorelli paul.signorelli Oct 5, 2016
  • Good article from EdTech Strategies: 10 Things to know about the Future of Blockchain in Education - http://j.mp/2aP6oqz - Lawrence.Miller Lawrence.Miller Aug 11, 2016 - paul.signorelli paul.signorelli Oct 5, 2016
  • Insuring the veracity of an education record is what university transcripts already do. Blockchain is an amazing opportunity. But without a more focused unbundling of credit--something that has to happen at the curricular and accreditation levels, I don't see this as having much impact. - niki.whiteside niki.whiteside Oct 5, 2016 Now, if you had some real momentum around credit articulation, credit for prior learning, alternative credits (like MOOCs), then Blockchain technology would be the missing piece of the puzzle. That is all to say, this is way over the Horizon for political, not technical, reasons. - david.thomas david.thomas Sep 9, 2016
  • Opportunities for digital commons, mobile access to accreditation, asset management (library, learning technology assets and space) and for supporting staff in meeting digital capability thresholds. - DaveP DaveP Sep 12, 2016
  • As it gets more accessible, Blockchain will be a powerful tool for providing unprecedented privacy and autonomy to students and teachers. This technology has the potential to restore users independency, keeping them from depending on commercial or even institutional third-party data services. - fledezma fledezma Sep 21, 2016
  • This has the potential to streamline the cumbersome and frustrating process of collecting documentation of lessons literally learned (i.e., collecting transcripts) from a variety of educational institutions each time we want to return to a formal academic setting. One of the most exciting bits of technology I learned about through our 2017 Higher Education Edition explorations.- paul.signorelli paul.signorelli Oct 5, 2016

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • The sheer overhead of the thing. Most of the discussed applications don't need a complete copy of the ledger to be held by every note, don't need that level of encryption, don't need to be irrevocable by design. These features are expensive and complex - if you don't need them a simple database/API is a much better fit.
  • The ideological basis of blockchain is to remove the need for trust. The basis of higher education is the community of scholars - explicitly based on trust - dkernohan dkernohan Aug 15, 2016
  • The conflicting ideas about/planned uses for the blockchain. In papers, presentations, and conversations with interested parties in K-20 education, I have heard everything from ISO 9000-type goals, to integration of atomic learning components, to privacy/identity management. Many of these goals are (or can be made) complementary - but many are not, and resolving this needs to become an active part of the conversation.- rubenrp rubenrp Oct 2, 2016

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on higher education?

  • I am intrigued by the potential for blockchain processes within the educational landscape. It is likely that at first there will be a few specific application of blockchain. For example, colleges and universities might explore the creation of cryptographically signed documents or certificates that can be verifiable. Over time, I would anticipate applications that are more impactful. Blockchain, as a cloud-based "digital ledger," and will be integrated into higher education in ways beyond our current thinking.- Lawrence.Miller Lawrence.Miller Aug 11, 2016 - ole ole Aug 19, 2016 I would add to Larry's comment here by suggesting it will become even more meaningful if/when it expands to include documentation of any significant learning opportunity a learner has pursued--a super-set of "transcripts" in one place.- paul.signorelli paul.signorelli Oct 5, 2016
  • Adopting a blockchain ecosystem can completely revolutionize learning. The idea of learning and counting hours of learning in small bite-size segments will offer new opportunities for learners and at the same time challenge institutions. My personal view on this is that we are likely to see first closed implementations or institutions borrowing elements before we see more global implementations in HigherEd.- mayaig mayaig Oct 3, 2016 - paul.signorelli paul.signorelli Oct 5, 2016

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

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