Blockchain is a nascent technology typically described as a secure, virtual pipeline for the transfer of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. Blockchain is a shared, distributed ledger technology in which records are stored together as blocks of information connected to other similar blocks of information.
“Blockchain uses an agreed-upon and encrypted process to ensure that the information is tamper proof. This makes it a good option for securely sharing credentials or other demonstrations of skill. They are validated and permanent, so anyone [with user permission] can see and trust them.”
Blockchain use in educational records rests on the premise that giving learners access to and control over their educational records can help address inequities in access to economic opportunity. Empowering learners in this way makes it easier for them to share their knowledge, skills, and work experience with employers and educational providers. This opens avenues for them to start or further their careers and increase their economic and social mobility.
Relation to Learn & Work Ecosystem
Blockchain is relevant to the learn-and-work ecosystem because it offers a method to document, validate, and share digital identities. It is also relevant to parts of the ecosystem that relate to privacy, accessibility, keeping educational records, storing data, and databases.
- Guardianship and Consent for Nebraska Systems-Involved Students—Collaboration between Student1, an organization that partners with state agencies, school districts and organizations in software development projects; the Nebraska Department of Education; and the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. The pilot’s mission is to establish “the foundation for a comprehensive learner record for Nebraska K-12 students who are involved with multiple state educational, judicial, or behavioral services.
- The Lifelong Learner Project, Powered by Teachers—Partnership between RANDA Solutions and the Utah Department of Education to develop a digital wallet in which teachers can store and access their credentials, licenses, and exemplars of practice and securely share them with entities such as state licensing systems, human resource departments, and learning management systems.
- The UnBlockEd Project: Leveraging Blockchain in Higher Education—Led by the University of Arizona, in partnership with Georgia Institute of Technology, Fluree, and the John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education, to create an open transfer exchange system that will facilitate student progress toward graduation by making the transfer articulation process more transparent.
- North Texas Collaborative—Texas Woman’s University-led collaboration with Carrollton-Farmers Branch Independent School District, North Central Texas College, Texas A&M University-Commerce, The University of Texas at Arlington, and GreenLight Credentials. It seeks to narrow the college graduation and employment gap of underserved populations by increasing students’ free access and control of their academic records.
Distributed ledger technologies (DLTs)
- For a quick definition, see the ACE-created YouTube explainer video – What is Blockchain.
- Understanding Comprehensive Learner Records: a learner record-keeping mechanism that has been gaining traction quickly in higher education.
- The Education Blockchain Initiative Final Report: This ACE report summarizes a DOE-funded and ACE-managed Education Blockchain Initiative (EBI) in progress from February 2020 through September 2021.
- At the Learn & Work Ecosystem Library:
- International Developments (Primary Category)
- The Education Blockchain Initiative (Initiative)
- European Blockchain Partnership (EBP) (Initiative)
American Council on Education (n.d.). Education Blockchain Initiative. https://www.acenet.edu/Research-Insights/Pages/Education-Blockchain-Initiative.aspx
Hansen, T., Soares, L., Spires, M., & Tran, H. (2021). The Education Blockchain Initiative Final Report. Workforce Monitor. https://wfmonitor.com/2022/04/15/the-education-blockchain-initiative-final-report/
Lorenzo, G. (2022). Understanding Comprehensive Learner Records. Workforce Monitor. https://wfmonitor.com/2022/04/13/part-i-understanding-comprehensive-learner-records/