Blockchain for learning

A blockchain stores digital events securely on every user’s computer rather than in a central database. This is the technology behind digital currencies like Bitcoin. Blockchain learning explores how this approach could be applied to education, shifting from central records of student performance held by schools and universities to a more democratic model in which achievements are recorded by a wider range of participants. Blockchain technology allows any participant to add a new record such as an exam score to a single digital chain of events. This chain is stored across many computers, yet cannot be altered or undone. A blockchain could be used as a permanent shared record of intellectual achievement. It enables anybody to store academic certificates, creative works such as poems or artworks, even original ideas. There is no need for individuals to claim their inventions – the record is there for all to see. Just as bitcoin is a financial currency, so an educational blockchain could be linked to a currency of intellectual reputation. People can gain credit for carrying out an intellectual task such as reviewing another person’s creative work, or can donate small amounts of reputational credit to boost another person’s artefact or idea – all recorded and visible on the shared educational blockchain. While blockchain technology opens new possibilities for trading educational reputation as a currency, it also raises significant concerns about treating learning as a commodity to be bought and sold.

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