ICTs in Education

Duan et al (2017) conceptualize a blockchain “diploma record” that would include quantitative and qualitative information on grades, progression, marks, course details, learning outcomes, and weightings. Conversion of the achievement record to job competencies would enable continuous improvement of curricula. Graduates would possess a blockchain-stored diploma that incorporates information cross-referable to an international graduate requirement index. This would enable recognition of achievement and transfer of credits, making HE records internationally transferable and recognisable.

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Russel (2017) reported that in summer 2015, Sony Global Education began developing a blockchain-based digital platform for the storage and management of educational records. Sony stated the project was undertaken to combat fraud and allow third party access to job applicants’ educational history. Via the Sony platform, records can be shared as e-mail or hardcopy. Importantly, data from multiple institutions can be aggregated and secured as a unified record, with particulars retained. Records follow their learner-owner, showing auto-populated, up-to-date “live” information to any permission-granted third party. For all parties, information validity is assured. Sony’s design operates on two existing technological backbones: the IBM Cloud and the Linux Hyperledger Fabric 1.0.

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The Open University (2017) argues that student records are still paper-based. There are hundreds of thousands of known fraudulent credentials in circulation the United States. It is difficult to measure the quantity and economic impact of undiscovered fraudulent credentials. Matching paper certificates to individuals is also challenging.

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Tapscott and Tapscott (2017) remind us that blockchain enables trust without reliance on intermediaries. The Internet of Things (“IoT”) will require a Ledger of Everything, i.e. blockchain. Virtually everything of value to society (birth certificates, educational records, social security details, finance arrangements, and business contracts) can be safely stored, shared, and updated via the blockchain.

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Sieber (2017) discusses the future of universities. Western universities were born from need, trade routes, and energetic collectives. A millennia ago, teachers were hired to teach only what students demanded. Teachers were fired if auditoria were not filled, if students became bored, or if their knowledge was incomplete. For academics, the system was challenging; for students, it was ideal. Universities issued no diplomas or credentials. Students designed their own programmes. In format however, teaching was almost as now. i.e. one-to-many didactic lectures. (Sieber asks, rhetorically: “Why is it we still teach that way?”) Perhaps the only significant recent introduction is the laptop, which is now a constant feature, commanding space and disrupting the line of sight between lecturers and students.

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The research I undertook for the thesis of my fourth MA revealed that blockchain is already disrupting many industries and financial processes. Its impact on/disruption of HE is assured. In 2018, it was only the nature, speed, and degree of that impact/disruption that was unclear. This research stratified the discourse into six highly related subtopics that reveal the interests and predictions of educational and technological experts regarding the nature and degree of blockchain’s disruption of HE.

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This must have been the mid to late 2000s. I had begun my second Masters. It wasn't described as an "online" learning format. If I remember correctly, I negotiated with the university in the UK to allow me to do the three-year course remotely (I was living in Japan at the time and the options for distance learning Technical Communication were very limited). They accepted, on the provisos that I met all the standard deadlines, contributed regularly to the Blackboard discussions, kept up with the reading, and paid for the printed material to be sent to me by courier. (They also wanted three printed and bound copies of the dissertation couriering to them, which cost me a small fortune!) I think I might have paid more than a regular student, too, but I forget. Anyway, while doing this, I began to have thoughts about integrating translation and/or language enhancement functionality into Blackboard, the online learning platform (very similar to Moodle). What follows is a formal articulation of my ideas. Needless to say, I never realised any of these myself, but much of this functionality has become available - if not successfully integrated into e-learning platforms.

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