Blockchain in HE: Pedagogy and Technology

Castañeda and Selwyn (2018) contend that any discussion of pedagogy requires consideration of all aspects of education, including technology. Most learning theories are of pre-digital heritage. Technology-based learning needs to be fully understood, and the conceptualisation of the design and deployment of technologies in HE must be subject to sustained theorising. Proponents of technological learning must acknowledge the affective aspects of HE; and, similarly, the “hyper-rationalisation” of digital methods and technologies of education must be avoided. The impact of any educational technology must be gauged through its relevance to identity, responsibility, social relations, and accountability, since these are critical to the HE environment and experience. On the matter of engagement, the question of whether digital technologies are disconnecting and alienating (“hyper- individualising”) learners must be asked.

Gromovs and Lammi (2017) ask “What should be taught about blockchain in HE?” In logistics, blockchain and the IoT are emerging as enablers of performance improvement, so must be covered in undergraduate logistics programmes.

In logistics terms, “IoT” refers to the system of smart instruments that make possible the smart environment, and “blockchain” is the information system that supports and links supply chains. Together, these technologies exemplify broader movements toward decentralization (in the case of logistics, decentralization of production is occurring at a growing pace, so needs to be understood).

Logistics and supply chain are embedded in a mesh of related disciplines – economics, engineering, and management. Undergraduate programmes must attempt to incorporate the very latest technologies, or risk obsolescence. Every discipline that concerns information management, economic transfer, and value exchange must address IoT and blockchain. Courses and units that feature well-developed, employability-pertinent content will attract students and the attention of market-leading companies, with kudos and revenue accruing to the provider.

Wang (2016) describes the Learning-As-Earning concept, which is squarely premised on blockchain-enabled capabilities. Learning-As-Earning denotes the learning ledger and its content: academics advise learners on the “income” and job-seeking value of their blockchain-inhabiting e-portfolio elements. Blockchain records allow all the major stakeholders in HE (learners, academics, administrators, alumni, and employers) to share mutual transparency that expedites transactions.