Blockchain may have started out in cryptocurrency, but the real value of this ledger technology lies in its potential to transform and streamline transactions and recordkeeping in an extremely wide range of fields.
And because blockchain seems to be the wave of the future, today’s students should be prepared to engage with it in their careers. Unfortunately, because the technology is so new, opportunities for K-12 students to learn about blockchain are limited. According to Forbes council member Andrew Raupp, in his article Blockchain: A Revolution for STEM Education, “the earlier it begins and the more hands-on it is, the more likely kids are to stick with it and see themselves as the blockchain contributors of the future. Studying blockchain capitalizes on several STEM disciplines, including computer engineering and higher math to encrypt the data.”
An age appropriate curriculum in this area, as suggested by Andrew Raupp, might look like this:
- “For younger students, understanding the basics about networks and honing relevant math skills.”
- “For older students, financial literacy dovetails nicely with cryptocurrency to spark interest.”
- “Learning to code is always an important STEM skill, and classes in Python will be particularly useful in understanding blockchain.”
By teaching students the STEM basics needed to understand blockchain, students will garner an appreciation for the values that it brings to the table. Blockchain technology is steeped in a culture that sees information as something everyone has a right to obtain freely, without paying a mediator for access.
With individual educational records available on the blockchain, assessments completed throughout a student’s educational career, starting in kindergarten, could be better coordinated. For example, if an eighth-grade student passed a tenth-grade geometry test, she would carry that accomplishment on her record wherever she went, allowing her to continue her math education at the appropriate level for her as an individual, rather than having to retake the same test for the next several years.
In the summer of 2017, 111 MIT graduates became the first to be able to receive blockchain diplomas on their smartphones, in addition to the traditional printed format. Unlike a printed paper diploma, which could be easily lost or falsified, a blockchain diploma is never lost. Andrew Raupp from Forbes states that “it… cuts out the university or traditional clearinghouse as the intermediary needed to issue transcripts. Instead, students have direct access to their educational records right on their phones. No matter what — whether a person moves several times around the world, or all their belongings are lost to a housefire — their diploma is secure.”
If other educational credentials like certificates and badges are also stored on the blockchain, students will have a much easier time moving between universities and dictating their own educational trajectory because barriers to transferring credits would begin to fall away. Additionally, blockchain in education would allow for massive open online courses (MOOCs), which are available free of charge, to be more easily completed for meaningful credit that leads to a degree.
Blockchain would eliminate intermediaries that stands between you and your educational records, allowing for much more direct access to and control over your own education.