Teaching

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.

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Gazali et al (2017) inform us that in Malaysia, only 0.05% of HE loans are repaid. Their paper offers a blockchain- and smart contract-based solution. In the design proposed, borrowers are granted full access to their accounts and total ledger visibility; the authorities receive automatic notification of loan account activity. The design exploits the Ethereum protocol. Following basic blockchain principles, smart contracts are distributed across nodes, but, usefully, Ethereum supports three types of contract activity: creation of new, transfer to other parties, and function invocation. These give borrowers flexibility in repayment options and schedules, and provide lenders audit trail visibility.

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McKnight et al (2017) argues for measures that help policymakers, industry, and users manage and harness the advantages of blockchain. A significant opportunity exists for regulators and policymakers to shape the evolution and commercialisation of blockchain – the technology that will enable the IoT and contribute tremendously to human well-being. Actual and potential applications of blockchain and the IoT (Internet of Things) are already numerous. The combination of the two will have dramatic, sudden, and far-reaching effects on societies and economies.

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The Joint Research Centre (2017) asserts that “open education” will be achieved through appropriate technology, credential recognition, stakeholder collaboration, and published research. The accreditation of research and academic learning needs to be digitized. HE organisations can use blockchain as a transparent trusted agent for sharing and verifying qualifications, enabling smart contracts, collecting and requiring digital signatures, and allocating finance.

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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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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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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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The Open University (2017) argues thatstudent 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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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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