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The Blockchain Future of Higher Ed – Inside Higher Ed


The pressure is on to provide a mechanism to enable students to control their own record of lifelong learning that recognizes both in-class and real-world experiences.

As higher education slowly adapts to the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), spurred by the COVID crisis, students and industry are recognizing the need for a technologically supported way to document the full array of learning in the classroom and beyond. Soon to disappear will be the notarized paper transcripts that are controlled by the university. In the past, these 19th-century-type documents have been subject to withholding for unpaid fines and fees. They have been slowly processed before sending via sluggish snail mail. They do not include details of noncredit learning outside the classroom. Even learning within classes is not defined and documented. This leads to confusion as to exactly what knowledge and skills students have learned.

Blockchain, originally used as the backbone of ledgering digital currencies such as Bitcoin, is not new to academe as a validation system for learning. It has been used to support secure dissemination of academic credentials since 2015. The director of the MIT Media Lab, Phillip Schmidt, began issuing nonacademic digital certificates in that year:

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