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OS.UNIVERSITY - Careers Registration on the Blockchain

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The case study abstract that was featured in the poster session of the national "Careers Registration" conference at the Senate House, University of London with an aim to introduce the subject to key Academia stakeholders from around U.K. higher ed. system. It is the first of a series of academic case studies on the transformative power that blockchain technology has. The purpose is to bridge the knowledge gap between the academic, business, and technology sectors when it comes to the application of distributed ledger technologies for learning and career development.

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OS.UNIVERSITY - Careers Registration on the Blockchain

  1. 1. Introduction According to a recent report by the European Commission, blockchain technologies may "disrupt institutional norms in the field of education and empower learners" in line with the needs of Industry 4.0. The Commission proposes eight scenarios for the application of distributed ledger technology (DLT) in an educational context, based on the current state of technology development. This poster looks into the theoretical and practical opportunities for OS.UNIVERSITY as a pioneering initiative in the field to be of benefit to the “Career Registration” project. OS.UNIVERSITY, now part of UCL's “EDUCATE” program, aims to create a distributed platform on the blockchain that turns the potentially disruptive DLT scenarios into real-life opportunities for modernization of Academia, enablement of businesses, and empowerment of learners (students, employees, life-long). Method According to a research by EY, not the lack of information, but its inefficient exchange is behind skills’ demand and supply mismatch. Within the case of OS.UNIVERSITY three sets of "smart contracts“ are being deployed on the distributed database as a method to improve the information- coordination relationships among various stakeholders in the field of learning and development. Acknowledgments This research is made available with the help of: - The Fund for Doctoral Research at the Technical University of Sofia and the Department of Economics; - The “Erasmus for Entrepreneurs” program, through a project, administrated by the Business & IP Center at the British Library, BCause Foundation and Cobden Partners. Key Findings With at least 34% of UK Higher Education providers involved in the growth of Careers Registration (CR) in 2017, the application and impact of the project as an evidence-based approach for employability support in higher education, continues to gain momentum. While learners’ data that is being generated provide a lot of value by offering insights on students' careers thinking and preparedness; identifying specific employability needs of groups, leading to targeted marketing and interventions; measuring the effectiveness of employability initiatives, etc., it fails to empower learners to benefit further from their own inputs beyond the institutional borders and the limited timeframes of their higher education studies. Analyzing the opportunity for expansion of the benefits that “CR” promises, in line with questions brought forward by the 3-year HEFCE funded pilot project to investigate the use of CR as a measure of learning gain in relation to work readiness, such as "What is the best way to implement CR?“, the author concludes that there is a meaningful opportunity to enable the data to yield long-term results by incorporating it into the so called “individual learner wallet”, which the OS.UNIVERSITY project will offer as a free-of-charge service to learners throughout UK (and beyond) as of June 2018. As a core value proposition, the wallet, also referred to as a “competence passport”, represents a digital credentials portfolio to store and transfer throughout institutional and national borders credible information about personal accomplishments and achievements (originating from certifications, diplomas, accreditations, etc., which are validated and verified though the blockchain). Thanks to the set of L2A (learner-to-academia) and B2L (business-to-learner) smart contracts, deployed on the (Ethereum) blockchain through the OS.UNIVERSITY platform, the CR data fed into the individual learners’ wallets would achieve the following: - L2A Smart Contracts – data about learners' accomplishments would enable smarter discovery of additional learning opportunities, which on its own will enrich the insights about learners’ career aspirations, based on the autonomous choices of the learner in the online space beyond self-reporting. - B2L Smart Contracts - the connection between (A) learners’ data in regards to their career aspirations, enriched with information on the acquired (and relevant) knowledge and skills at any given point in time and (B) hiring businesses with matching requirements for these profiles, will happen automatically upon a “handshake’’, enabled through a B2L smart contract. By giving back the CR data into the hands of learners and by putting it in motion on top of the blockchain, which provides trust and traceability of every event in the individual educational and professional development pathway, learning gain aligns with work readiness more effectively and efficiently. Conclusions According to the Knowledge Media Institute at the Open University "the blockchain technologies may hold an answer to collating the outcomes of the new distributed learning reality” and they intend to explore the possibilities that this infrastructure could provide. In the spirit of the above statement, the author extends the concept of a “distributed learning reality” and connects it to the concept of a “distributed career reality” (according to a recent report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, almost 25% of the workforce change jobs annually). This all leads to the conclusion that for the “school-to-job- to-school-to-school-to-job, etc...” transition to happen in a frictionless manner, a distributed system is needed where data about individual learning and career aspirations, achievements can be recorded and verified by multiple sources, as well as exchanged peer-to-peer without the need for an intermediary and the associated costs around it. The multi-chain architecture of one open platform, such as OS.UNIVERSITY, would allow for this transformation to occur without any changes in the internal systems and operations of the parties involved. (Figure 3) Hristian Daskalov - Doctoral Candidate at the Technical University of Sofia. UCL’s “EDUCATE” Program Participant Co-Founder of the Center for Open Science at TU Sofia and the “Open Source University” Project. Contact: hristian.daskalov@os.university Literature There are two main sources behind the current research. One of them is the recent report by the Joint Research Center (JRC) of the European Commission (November 2017) that includes case studies of blockchain implementations in education from various players. Despite that each of these implementations is still in a piloting phase, the Center concludes: “It is possible to suggest that blockchain has the potential to disrupt the information systems market in education by loosening the control that current players have (in line with the principles of sharing and transparency) and by empowering learners.” The second key source is the book “Academia 4.0: University on the Blockchain” (April 2018). This book highlights OS.UNIVERSITY as one of the earliest and most prominent pilots, containing in-depth research on the project. It is made available with open access at: www.os.university/book. Further information www.os.university www. medium.com/the-os-university-blog www. twitter.com/OpenSource_Uni www.educate.london www.daskalov.info Figure 1. L2A, L2B, B2A smart contracts are deployed on the blockchain, due to the fact that the blockchain enhances transactions of information by offering: authenticity; decentralized trust; less bureaucracy; direct interaction; security. Careers Registration National Forum: Insights, Innovation and Impact I 18th May 2018 I Senate House, University of London Figure 2. An OS.UNIVERSITY L2A smart contract in action According to the definition, provided by “Investopedia”, smart contracts are self-executing contracts with the terms of the agreement between buyer and seller being directly written into lines of code. The code and the agreements contained therein exist across a distributed, decentralized network. Beyond cryptocurrency, though, any number of parties can execute a smart contract that is associated with the registration and transfer of value between them, e.g. property rights, intellectual property, physical assets. In the case of OS.UNIVERSITY, Figure 2. explains the logic behind the processes of validation and verification of learners credentials on the blockchain, enabled by a set of L2A (learner-to-academia) smart contracts. More information is available online at: www.os.university/platform

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