Located in Coimbatore, Firebird Institute of Research in Management is an international B-School offering the best training in management studies and is actively engaged in conducting Executive Development, Business Research & Consultancy, and Management Education Programs.
The education industry has seen an extensive transformation over the last decade. The transition from the usage of hard-copy textbooks and learning materials to the adoption of e-learning modules and digitization has been impactful. Over the past few years, the global education industry has shifted its focus to online instead of offline resources.
Education institutions in India are fully owned government entities, government-aided or private institutions, of which nearly 40 percent are government institutions. With a population growth rate of 1.5 percent, there is enormous pressure on the education system to produce quality education at an affordable price and advance the literacy rate.
An Indian government policy-making body (NITI Aayog) is eyeing the potential applications of blockchain technology across various sectors. The primary focus is on developing a proof-of-concept to explore blockchain in critical areas of education. Chitkara University is the first university in India to apply Blockchain technology to issue e-documents for students’ benefit.
Challenges in Education System
1. Threat of Student Data Theft & Fraud: Nowadays, educational establishments rely on Internet-accessible databases, and the risk of a hacker changing their grades, adding unearned certifications, or even deleting/stealing an entire database has increased. Periodic reports of examination papers leaking or grades being changed by unscrupulous characters are common in India.
2. Difficulty in Authenticating Certifications & Documents: The only way employers can verify potential employees’ credentials is by contacting individual educational institutions. It is a very time-consuming process. Verifying every student’s credentials is costly. There are many cases of fraudulent resumes and fake degrees.
3. Complexity of Tracking Intellectual Property: Traditional copyright and patent practices protect an invention or original research paper, but also require the disclosure of such discovery. IP misuse and outright plagiarism are rampant in many parts of the world.
4. Acceptability of MOOC Certifications: Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs) can get a massive boost if their certification starts getting the same acceptability as a traditional degree. While each provider does provide certificates, the authenticity, relevance, and accreditation of these certificates remain ambiguous.
5. Accessibility & Cost: There are many infrastructural limitations and social issues
which make it challenging to make education accessible and affordable to all sections of society. The use of a paper-based system also extensively increases the cost of administering and managing the education system.
Blockchain can solve the apparent problem of authenticity by providing a formal process for issuing and managing certificates
Blockchain: Solution to Challenges
The finTech industry and specifically cryptocurrencies (Bitcoin, Ripple, Ethereum, and others) has received prominent news and industry coverage in the past few years. While the industry, regulatory agencies, and governments are still debating the use and efficacy of Cryptos, there is unanimous agreement on the advantages of the underlying technology – Blockchain. While the primary focus of blockchain has been in the financial services industry, it has broad applications across different industries.
The use of Blockchain will be the next step in revolutionizing the education industry and addressing the above-mentioned issues. Blockchain can be executed in individual educational institutions or consortiums of organizations in this sector.
1. Use of Blockchain in Education Reduces/Eliminates Threat of Student Data Theft: Records which are accessible on the blockchain system cannot be modified. Students with a profile on platforms can attempt multiple courses, and everything will be published on their public profile powered by blockchain technology such as AdBlock.
2. Blockchain Technology Manages Difficulty in Authenticating Certifications & Documents: In blockchain technology, a record is immutable and cannot be counterfeited, and it prevents people from producing false certifications. Blockchain administers a trust factor when it comes to certificates and digital degrees which were not available before.
BADGR and Mozilla Open Badge are being used to provide digital certifications to students in some prestigious academic institutions. Accredible is the industry-leading digital credentialing platform. It issues secure, digital certificates and badges. Sony in partnership with IBM created an educational platform to guard and share graduation certificates, attendance records, transcripts, credits, and more. Moreover, this will cut down on the expense of verifying students’ credentials. Indorse is using blockchain technology to launch a verified e-portfolio.
3. Blockchain Can Also Solve the Complexity of Tracking Intellectual Property. Intellectual assets can be easily maintained on a blockchain to track publications and citations. Bernstein Technologies is a platform that registers the hash of documents on the blockchain, thus providing proof of existence and ownership.
4. MOOC Certifications & Blockchain: For MOOC providers, Blockchain can solve the apparent authenticity problem by providing a formal process of issuing and managing certificates. Examples of MOOC providers are Edx, SWAYAM, NovoEd, Coursera, and many more. SWAYAM attempts to bridge the digital divide for students who have inadequate access to the knowledge economy.
5. Accessibility & Cost: The embodiment of Blockchain could genuinely create an open, traceable, regulated, and transparent digitized system of education that provides a means for more accessibility without the need for expanding the number of schools and training centers. The use of digital currencies as rewards can further provide a financial incentive to the deserved. ODEM is a decentralized learning marketplace. They use smart contracts to negotiate financial relationships between their members.
Blockchain applications for the education industry are still in their infancy. The majority of attention is currently focused on Fintech as opposed to education, but blockchain technology can change the face of education in India and elsewhere.
Blockchain technology has the potential to accelerate the end of a paper-based system for certificates and removes the need for educational organizations to validate credentials. Educational systems can automate and standardize many functions through a decentralized autonomous network.
Policymakers should set up innovation pipelines to study and establish usually agreed digital data standards for educational records and how these can be linked to current degree courses and qualification certification methods. An expert panel should be formed for policy formulation, rapid adoption, and execution.