Blockchain in Higher Education: A Tool of General Improvement

In 2018, blockchain was already intensively active in securing data and facilitating transactions in logistics and transport, energy production, manufacturing, and trading. When combined with the Internet of Things (“IoT”), blockchain applications multiply further. The adoption by established HE institutions of smart technologies has been slower.

Pedagogically, the challenge of blockchain and smart contracts would be ensuring that expectations regarding standards are met or surpassed. Students would be in the unprecedented position of being able to trial comparable courses and demonstrate loyalty based on their judgement of value for money. They would also have access to metrics and ratings, making their decision process objective and their criteria of choice as precise as they desire.

Metrics would reveal the popularity or relevance of teaching material, permitting rapid recalibration and continuous improvement. Depending on the institution’s interpretation of “flexibility”, such responsiveness would represent either an opportunity to increase market share or an unpleasant imposition of academic responsibility. Either way, the relatability of revenue to teaching would compel constant quality monitoring. The mutuality of institution and student transparency represents a dynamic swing in favour of the learner-customer and a costly and complex adjustment for HE institutions.

Blockchain transparency allows the use of quantitative measures that should produce, reveal, and financially reward excellence in pedagogic practice and research. Anti-plagiarism functions may also be incorporated, and the research CVs of academics could also be made searchable and blockchain-secured.

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