Blockchain In Online Education: Impact And Benefits
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The Use Of Blockchain In Online Education

In 2017, the blockchain rose to prominence. Most of the attention has been on cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin and ethereum as hungry investors try to catch the next wave. While there are still some people skeptical about cryptocurrencies, many believe in the capabilities of the blockchain.

The blockchain facilitates secure online transactions. It is a distributed digital ledger in which all transactions are recorded and made available to the public. The entire list of transactions or events is called the chain, and every new transaction added is called a block, hence blockchain. The distributed nature of the blockchain means everything isn’t located in one place, making it more secure.

The blockchain has the power to disrupt just about every industry. So, what does that mean for the online education sector? Some education startups are planning to use it solve the most common problems in the online education space.

Problems In Online Education

While online education has afforded people the ability to learn new skills from the comfort of their own homes, there are still some issues to overcome. User retention and completion rates represent the biggest problem for online courses. Completion rates for online courses are staggeringly low. While many persons sign up for these courses initially, the majority fail to complete them for one reason or another. If more people don’t complete these courses, then the benefits of online education can never be fully realized.

Another issue plaguing the online education space is the lack of intermediate level courses. The majority of online courses are geared towards beginners. Platforms like Udemy and Coursera provide short courses which allow individuals to gain a good foundation in their selected topic. This entry-level education is crucial for those just starting out, but after passing the beginner stage, it can be difficult to find sufficient material online to further one’s education.

Blockchain Solutions

The blockchain offers solutions to these two problems through tokens. Typically, when students are enrolled in a course, the only reward they receive is a grade. While this can provide some motivation, in the case of self-paced online learning, it isn’t enough. Many people lack the discipline to continue to learn things on their own, outside of a standard classroom. One way around this is to reward students for progress in a course with blockchain tokens. If students are given tokens, which they can exchange for other cryptocurrencies and eventually receive cash for, then they will have added motivation to complete online courses.

Another aspect where online education can benefit from blockchain tokens is to fix the lack of quality educators in certain fields, especially when it comes to self-paced learning. Blockchain tokens can also provide incentives to these educators, by rewarding them for creating high-quality content. This concept has already been proven outside of the education space on YouTube: YouTubers create entertaining videos their fans love; the more fans watch their videos, the more YouTubers are paid in royalties.

Other Benefits

The capabilities of the blockchain in the education space are not limited to payments and incentives, however. The security factor can be pretty useful for storing credentials. Some colleges and universities are entertaining the idea of issuing degrees through the blockchain.

Blockchain technology can also be pretty useful with regards to online certifications. Since any block added to the chain must be approved by other participants, the record cannot be falsified. This prevents people from creating fake certifications to say that they passed or excelled at a particular course. The records are also quite easily checked. The MIT Media Lab is already testing out blockchain as a means of issuing certificates. The blockchain provides an undeniable trust factor when it comes to digital degrees and certificates which wasn’t available before.

Blockchain technology represents a major part of human innovation and existence. We have only begun to scratch the service of what it can do for the advancement of society. Whole industries will be transformed, and the online education sector will be no different as blockchain provides added security and incentives in the sector.

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