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Blockchain and "The Ledger"


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Part 5 of 7 of the Series: Education in the Cloud. Introduction at:

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Blockchain and "The Ledger"

  1. 1. Education in the Cloud Digital Classrooms as Data Factories What is a “Smart” City? Learning Ecosystems and the Internet of Things Blockchain and “The Ledger” How Austerity Generates Data Reinventing Education for Impact Investment
  2. 2. Blockchain = The Ledger The 6-minute video Learning is Earning created by Institute for the Future provides important context for the information that follows. Source More on IFTF HERE
  3. 3. What is blockchain? Blockchain is a computer sequence to digitally transfer ownership of an asset between two parties, without the need for a trusted third party to verify the transaction.
  4. 4. Parties can move bitcoin and other types of assets including tickets, digital media, credentials, property, insurance policies, proof of ownership, identity records, stock, etc. via blockchain. Once transactions or smart contracts are initiated there is no human oversight. Everything is automated.
  5. 5. Blockchain is a digital, distributed ledger that keeps a permanent record of all transactions that take place across a peer- to-peer computer network.
  6. 6. It is being promoted as... A frictionless system for the movement of capital that will allow the number of transactions to increase exponentially enabling virtually instantaneous transactions without the need for a third party which reduces the cost to process transactions. But should we believe the hype?
  7. 7. How does this relate to education? Credentials Ed Reform 2.0 envisions a future without grades, report cards or diplomas. What better place to store your competencies than an e-portfolio on the blockchain? Payments A decentralized learning ecosystem model demands many small payments to multiple education providers. Blockchain would provide infrastructure for efficient micro- transactions. Smart Contracts A smart contract could be set up on the blockchain to trigger actions like payments or credential transfers when certain conditions are met.
  8. 8. Imagine a day when... Every student has a wallet of digital currency as their Education Savings Account. Families “shop” around for educational experiences. Many are online courses. Those track student data via facial recognition or other biometric methods. Others are in community-based settings like makerspaces. Those are tracked via RFID card, biometric device, or IoT sensor. Once a student meets a certain performance measure, say attendance or demonstration of a competency, payment is automatically transferred to the service provider.
  9. 9. Tracking Students in Learning Ecosystems Online Learning Activities Offline Learning Activities Data Transmitted to “The Ledger” (Blockchain) Credentials Issued When Conditions Are Met-Badges Blockchain “Smart” Contracts Trigger Payments to Educational Providers When Provisions Are Met
  10. 10. MIT and the Learning Machine prototype Blockcerts. MIT has a number of programs around cryptocurrency and digital credentials.
  11. 11. Payments Arizona already uses a debit card to manage their Education Savings Accounts. It would not be a big leap to transfer them to a bitcoin wallet.
  12. 12. Weighted Student Funding and ESAs The Nellie Mae Foundation has been promoting “reform” around education funding. Weighted funding, which allocates additional resources to students who are low-income, have IEPs, or are English Language Learners, is one method being discussed. But what if the endgame is to decouple funding from districts? Weighted funding could follow the student via ESAs making some of the most vulnerable students attractive targets for out-of-school and virtual educational service providers. Families accepting ESAs release the state from their obligation to provide a Free Appropriate Public Education. Service providers would be under no obligation to provide accommodations or comply with IEPs. Could that be why special needs students are being targeted for the first round of the ESA roll out?
  13. 13. Many interests are involved in blockchain development. Richard Branson has been holding invitation-only blockchain gatherings on his private island for the past two years.
  14. 14. Digital Identity The ID2020 initiative sponsored by the United Nations aims to create a digital identity for everyone in the world. Identities would link biometric and financial information. Because each block is linked through encryption into the chain, and the ledger is distributed among a multitude of computers, verified transactions are permanent and immutable. This creates a “permanent record” that can be authenticated. There are no do-overs. ID2020 Concept for Public/Private Partnership
  15. 15. In 2015 the Blockchain Alliance teamed up with law enforcement. Department of Justice Federal Bureau of Investigations Secret Service Department of Homeland Security US Marshal’s Service ICE Commodities Future Trading Commission Source
  16. 16. Timeframe According to a panel discussion from the Milken Institute (K12): 2015 was the year of education. Open dialogue among all market constituents took place. 2016 was the year of proof of concept. Paper transactions were set up. 2017 is the year particular use cases are going into production. Within 5 years they anticipate the technology will scale, and people will use it in their daily life. Source
  17. 17. Recent Developments March 2015 The Federal Reserve discusses blockchain payment modernization with IBM. May 2016 Former Delaware Governor Markell launches blockchain initiative in the state that sets the national standard for finance law. June 2017 IBM and Accenture (biometrics) team up to work with the UN on the Identity 2020 project. June 2017 IBM and AIG create the first multi-national “smart” insurance contract on the blockchain. June 2017 Nevada becomes first state to pass a law banning blockchain taxes.
  18. 18. What could go wrong with an ESA / blockchain system? It would be the ultimate “free market” takeover of public education. It would create a fractured, isolating, competitive system of “lifelong learning.” Educational providers would be released from any obligation to serve all students. Knowledge would become atomized. Only skills suited to current workforce needs would be relevant; creativity and imagination stifled. “Smart” contracts would be written to advantage educational service providers over students. There would be no opportunity to correct one’s “permanent” record. No do-overs. Your past follows you forever though the ledger’s transaction records.
  19. 19. How does blockchain work? Each party has a bitcoin wallet. A transfer is initiated. Each party has a public key and a private key that the system uses in verification. The private key is a long set of integer numbers. Each blockchain transaction is “signed” with this private key. It verifies identity and the assets in the ledger. The transaction is broadcast to the network of peer-to-peer computers, nodes. Each transaction is encrypted with a security code.
  20. 20. The network validates transactions by solving a complex mathematical problem. The computer nodes working on the problem are called miners.
  21. 21. The miner that solves the problem receives a reward in newly-minted bitcoin. The bitcoin payment provides an incentive for the miners to keep the system working smoothly.
  22. 22. The chain is continually updated. Every node maintains a complete copy of the ledger. Transaction histories are saved in perpetuity and are verifiable. Once verified the transaction is combined with others into a block. Each block has data included that references the previous block. The block is then added to the blockchain, which completes the transaction.
  23. 23. Anything else? It is a network of replicated databases that are synchronized by the Internet. Because it is distributed it is more secure than transactions stored in a centralized server. Transactions are immutable, not reversible. There are multiple blockchain platforms. Plug-ins are being developed to make the platforms interoperable so transactions can move across them. A significant amount of energy is required to run and maintain the blockchain computing systems and cool the servers.
  24. 24. Direct Talent Investment? Life on the Ledger? We’ll close with another short video from Institute for the Future. It discusses the concept of direct talent investment where an individual seeks outside support to cover training/tuition costs from another individual. In exchange the person agrees to have their future earnings garnished for a set period of time. It sounds a lot like indentured servitude. Source
  25. 25. While it may sound far- fetched, such a program is already being piloted at Purdue University in Indiana. The program is called Back A Boiler. The Purdue mascot is the Boilermaker. Imagine a future where such an agreement is put on the blockchain. Where people seeking access to education and training are compelled to sign away their futures and submit the oversight of algorithms and automated debit processes. It is bleak indeed. Source Income Sharing Agreement
  26. 26. Direct Talent Investment 1-minute video in which Olive debates whether to self- finance less-expensive Mandarin classes or to have her future wages garnished in order to take more costly virtual reality programming courses underwritten by an investor. Transfers of credentials, earnings and payments are all run through “The Ledger.” Source