The Joint Research Center of the EU (JRC, Joint Research Center) has published a study that analyzes and develops what the impact of the Blockchain application may be in the educational sector.

To begin with, we must define what Blockchain is:

“A blockchain is a digital record of transactions. The name comes from its structure, in which individual records, called blocks, are linked together in a single list, called a chain. Blockchains are used for recording transactions and have many other applications. Each transaction added to a blockchain is validated by multiple computers on the Internet. These systems, which are configured to monitor specific types of blockchain transactions, form a peer-to-peer network. They work together to ensure each transaction is valid before it is added to the blockchain. This decentralized network of computers ensures a single system cannot add invalid blocks to the chain.”

This report introduces the fundamental principles of the Blockchain focusing on its potential for the education sector. It explains how this technology may both disrupt institutional norms and empower learners. It proposes eight scenarios for the application of the Blockchain in an education context, based on the current state of technology development and deployment.

1: Using Blockchains to permanently secure certificates
2: Using blockchains to verify multi-step accreditation
3: Using a blockchain for automatic recognition and transfer of credits
4: Using a blockchain as a lifelong learning passport
5: Blockchain for tracking intellectual property and rewarding use and reuse of that property
6: Receiving payments from students via blockchains
7: Providing student funding via blockchains, in terms of vouchers
8: Using Verified Sovereign Identities for Student Identification within Educational Organizations

In addition to the scenarios, the report offers 13 interesting conclusions:

1. Blockchain applications for education are still in their infancy

2. The full benefits of blockchain technology are only achieved through open implementations

3. Blockchain may disrupt the market in student information systems

4. Vested interests have an interest in locking down blockchain technology and creating standards-based around partial implementations

5. Public-private partnerships are necessary to fully exploit blockchain

6. Blockchain technology has the potential to accelerate the end of a paper-based system for certificates

7. Blockchain technology removes the need for educational organizations to validate credentials

8. Blockchain has the potential to release a wave of innovation around learners’ data

9. Self-Sovereign Identities have the potential to significantly reduce educational organizations’ data management costs

10. Blockchain technology enables much more sophisticated systems for reliably tracking usage of intellectual property

11. Educational networks can automate and standardize many of their functions through decentralized autonomous networks

12. Regulation and Standardization may determine the extent and speed of progress

13. People are unaware of the social advantages and potential of blockchain technology

More about the Joint Research Centre

The Joint Research Centre (JRC) is the European Commission’s science and knowledge service which employs scientists to carry out research in order to provide independent scientific advice and support to EU policy.

Download the report [PDF]