Blockchain has been able to transform many industries and will continue to disrupt many more in the future. One industry that it may be able to transform is higher education by making things such as verification of educational credentials, transferring data between universities and even paying tuition fees easier and faster. Here are some of the ways in which blockchain technology can revolutionize higher education.
Why use blockchain?
Blockchain is an encrypted database used to maintain a continuously growing list of records (called blocks) that are secured from tampering and revision. Instead of traditional digital documents, blockchain stores data in transparent, shared databases spread across multiple sites, countries or institutions. These databases use algorithms to cryptographically link new transactions to existing data blocks, making it virtually impossible for anyone to retroactively alter them.
This makes blockchain incredibly useful for securely recording valuable information—and higher education is no exception.
For example, rather than storing transcripts or credentials on a central database vulnerable to cyber-attacks like 2015’s Cambridge University hack , educational institutes can now store these records on private blockchain ledgers that they control themselves.
Other uses of blockchain include enhancing intellectual property management by tracking who owns what and helping scientists manage their grant money more efficiently by safeguarding against fraud.
How does blockchain work?
To understand blockchain, it’s helpful to think of a ledger — a book or spreadsheet where you track credits and debits. Blockchain is essentially just an electronic version of that ledger. And here’s where it gets really interesting: The ledger is shared across a network of computers.
That means there’s no single owner — it can only be updated by consensus of members on that network. So if someone wants to add something (say, a record of a transaction) and everyone else agrees, that transaction becomes part of their record on the ledger forever. There are other key differences between traditional ledgers and blockchains too.
For example, most transactions aren’t anonymous in blockchains — they include names, addresses and sometimes even account details. This information isn’t usually included in ledgers because of privacy laws; additionally, each computer on a blockchain network has its own copy of the chain so copies are never out-of-date. Most importantly though: No one person controls a blockchain system.
What are some of the benefits of using blockchain in business?
The main benefit of using blockchain technology is that it eliminates third parties. If a company decides to use blockchain technology, they will not need to get permission from banks or other financial institutions. Decentralization is one of its key benefits, meaning it is not controlled by one central source. Instead, it runs on a peer-to-peer network and transactions are verified by nodes spread around the world. The speed of a transaction is also crucial to its success; as soon as it has been verified, no changes can be made to data once written on-chain and any attempt would be rejected by nodes in silent consensus. Security is another advantage that will benefit both individuals and companies.
Users will always have full control over their data and information at all times.
When stored properly, security measures like strong cryptography mean blockchain can ensure complete protection against unauthorized access without exposing users’ personal information to others who might want to exploit it. While security may be a barrier for some organizations initially, others may find it more beneficial than traditional methods because of reduced risk associated with storing user information online.
Blockchain makes sharing easier while preserving individual privacy thanks to its decentralized nature – there is no single party controlling access rights or permissions required for sharing and collaboration.
Each participant owns their own digital keys allowing them access even when working with larger networks where participants are frequently changing but still communicating across borders as easily as if everyone was in the same building together.
What are some of the challenges of using blockchain in business?
Scalability is one of blockchain’s greatest issues. When blockchain was first conceptualized, its creators assumed it would only be used to process payments between individual consumers and business; today, however, multiple industries are trying to implement blockchain into their businesses, meaning that transactions can (and will) vary widely in complexity.
Some blockchains are capable of handling a large number of transactions at once; others struggle to keep up with just a few per second.
Other challenges include educating potential users on how blockchain works and getting them involved in using it. There is also still debate over whether or not more government oversight should be implemented over businesses using blockchain. Until that question has been answered, companies may hesitate to make use of its benefits—especially since some lawmakers have argued against allowing virtual currencies like Bitcoin for use by businesses altogether.
Blockchain use cases in higher education
The concept of blockchain is starting to be used in many ways outside of cryptocurrency and is becoming one of those game-changers in higher education. Blockchain technology can be a really useful tool for learning institutions. For example, online students who take courses on different platforms can finally have a consistent identity that will allow them to access all their credentials regardless of where they got their degree from. This means that employers would know that you are who you say you are. Another good use case for blockchain could be in ensuring student privacy with regard to information sharing.
Employers often want to learn more about a candidate's background, which includes things like criminal records, addresses, social security numbers, etc., and there is typically no way for an individual student to know if an employer or institution has shared his/her personal information with anyone else but themselves.
However, using something like blockchain allows individuals to manage how much information goes out, as well as track how it gets used by whomever it was sent to.
But perhaps one of the biggest advantages that blockchain offers when it comes to higher education is immutability: every action or change on a block (blockchain jargon for record) is recorded forever; there’s no erasing past mistakes or regretful decisions once they’re permanently etched into history.
And each block contains some data about previous blocks, allowing someone to trace back transactions and keep people accountable for what happened at each step along the way. In other words, school transcripts wouldn't lie! They would show exactly what grades were earned in what classes—and most importantly when (not if or maybe) they were earned—because blockchain tracks time down to fractions of seconds.