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Blockchain for Education: A Study on Digital Accreditation of Personal and Academic Learning

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Research Methodology for a new study on blockchain for education being sponsored by the European Commissions Joint Research Centre in Seville

Published in: Education
  • Extremely interesting research framework. Having worked on the subject for the past 2 years, i would like to invite your team to check out the Open Source University project at www.os.university - let's keep in touch on changing the world of education through the power of the distributed ledger.
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Blockchain for Education: A Study on Digital Accreditation of Personal and Academic Learning

  1. 1. BLOCKCHAIN FOR EDUCATION: A STUDY ON DIGITAL ACCREDITATION OF PERSON AND ACADEMIC LEARNING RESEARCH PROPOSAL PRESENTED TO THE JRC 10/03/2017 Alex Grech & Anthony F. Camilleri
  2. 2. REFERENCE-WORKS  On Virtual and Cryptocurrencies: a general overview from the technological aspects to financial implications", (2015). ???  OpenCred: exploring issues around the recognition of non-formal learning via MOOCs in Europe  Overview and Analysis of the Concept and Applications of Virtual Currencies (2016)
  3. 3. WHAT IS BLOCKCHAIN FOR EDUCATION AND HOW CAN IT BE APPLIED?  What is the blockchain, what are the technologies and concepts that underpin it?  How is blockchain different from conventional ledger systems?  What are the applications of blockchain technology?  How is blockchain being applied in credentialisation in education?  Specifically, what are the features of the following systems:  Blockcerts (developed and supported by MIT Media Lab and Learning Machine) on the Bitcoin Blockchain  OpenBlockChain (supported by the Open University) on the Ethereum Blockchain  What are the differences between these systems?
  4. 4. WHAT IS BLOCKCHAIN FOR EDUCATION AND HOW CAN IT BE APPLIED? Concepts Digitally Signed Certificates Distributed vs. Central Ledgers Technologie s Bitcoin Ethereum Applications Crypto Currencies Smart- Contracts Solutions BlockCert Open Block Chain
  5. 5. CAN BLOCKCHAIN BE USED BY TEACHERS AND LEARNERS AS A TRANSPARENT, TRUSTED SYSTEM FOR SECURING, SHARING AND VERIFYING ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENTS IN EUROPE?  What ways exist for different users to interact with the blockchain?  What training would be required by different users to interact with the blockchain?  What user interfaces are necessary to enable interaction with the blockchain?  What features of the blockchain (distinguishing between Ethereum & Bitcoin blockchains as necessary) enable:  Transparency  Trust  Security  Sharing  Verification  Is blockchain technology fit-for-purpose, i.e. efficient and effective, for recording academic achievements?
  6. 6. CAN BLOCKCHAIN BE USED BY TEACHERS AND LEARNERS AS A TRANSPARENT, TRUSTED SYSTEM FOR SECURING, SHARING AND VERIFYING ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENTS IN EUROPE? What is the equivalent infrastructure for blockchain? Source: http://badges.thinkoutloudclub.com/modules/what/ref
  7. 7. CAN BLOCKCHAIN BE USED BY TEACHERS AND LEARNERS AS A TRANSPARENT, TRUSTED SYSTEM FOR SECURING, SHARING AND VERIFYING ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENTS IN EUROPE? Which design- features of a quality credentials system are addressed by blockchain? Source: Validation of Non-formal MOOC-based Learning: An Analysis of Assessment and Recognition Practices in Europe (Open
  8. 8. WHAT IS THE LIKELY TAKE-UP OF BLOCKCHAIN BY EUROPEAN UNIVERSITIES AND HIGHER EDUCATION INSTITUTIONS SHOULD IT BE DEPLOYED AS AN OPEN STANDARD? WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES TO THIS END?  How 'open' are the current blockchain specifications for education?  Can these specifications be considered a standard?  If not, what is required to standardise them?  Is there demand for a technology such as blockchain from Higher Education Institutions in Europe, or from any of their clients (employers, students or governments)?  What are the challenges for take-up in Higher Education Institutions in terms of:  Policy & legislation  Technology  Institutional culture  Resources  Knowledge
  9. 9. ELEMENTS FOR ANALYSIS OF AN OPEN LICENCE (MIT)
  10. 10. OPENNESS IN TERMS OF STANDARDISATION ISO proposes that International Standards should be evaluated according to principles stipulated by the World Trade Organization's Technical Barriers to Trade Committee (WTO/TBT): • Transparency • Openness • Impartiality and consensus • Effectiveness and relevance • Coherence • Addressing the concerns of developing countries.
  11. 11. HOW WILL BLOCKCHAIN INTERACT WITH AND POTENTIALLY SUPPORT BOTH MAINSTREAM AND ALTERNATIVE ACCREDITATION FRAMEWORKS IN EUROPE?  How does the metadata collected by the two blockchain for education specifications compare with European educational standards, including:  ECTS  Europass (all tools including CV)  Diploma Supplement  EQF  How does the metadata collected by the two blockchain for education specifications compare with common alterative accreditation frameworks, in particular:  Open Badges  e-portfolios  Continuing Professional Education 'points' schemes  What changes to the blockchain for education specifications (if any) are required to support interoperability with the frameworks outlined above?  Can the centralised nature of accreditation and the decentralised nature of the blockchain be reconciled?
  12. 12. HOW WILL BLOCKCHAIN INTERACT WITH AND POTENTIALLY SUPPORT BOTH MAINSTREAM AND ALTERNATIVE ACCREDITATION FRAMEWORKS IN EUROPE?  Which meta-data needs to be included in the one-way hash?  How should we standardize meta-data between:  EU Level  MS Level  Institutional Level Source: Blockcerts.org presentation at Malta Presidency State of Digital Education Confere
  13. 13. HOW COULD BLOCKCHAIN HELP BRIDGING ACADEMIC CREDENTIALS AND INDIVIDUAL'S LEARNING PORTFOLIO?  What are the potential risks and benefits of adopting blockchain for education for:  European public authorities  Education ministries  The public service more widely  European Higher Education Institutions  Non-University providers of tertiary education  European Employers (distinction for SMEs if necessary)  What actions are necessary to maximise benefits and mitigate risks?  What role can the European Commission play in enabling the technology, should this outcome be proved to be desirable?
  14. 14. HOW COULD BLOCKCHAIN HELP BRIDGING ACADEMIC CREDENTIALS AND INDIVIDUAL'S LEARNING PORTFOLIO?  There is a significant case for proposing a semi-open system of recognition of credentials Source: Beyond the Blockchain:Adding Trust to Academic Credentials, Brendan Farmer - Jared Dunnmon
  15. 15. HOW COULD BLOCKCHAIN HELP BRIDGING ACADEMIC CREDENTIALS AND INDIVIDUAL'S LEARNING PORTFOLIO? How Blockchain fits into the wider picture blockchain
  16. 16. HOW COULD BLOCKCHAIN SUPPORT INCREASING EU EFFORTS TO OPENING UP EDUCATION IN MEMBER STATES?  How can blockchain support opening up education in terms of:  improving access to educational opportunities?  improving transparency of qualifications?  contributing towards open-data / open-government initiatives?
  17. 17. HOW COULD BLOCKCHAIN SUPPORT INCREASING EU EFFORTS TO OPENING UP EDUCATION IN MEMBER STATES? Analysis of Blockchain, through the lens of appropriate Dimensions of the OpenEdu Framework
  18. 18. QUESTION ON POSITIONING OF RESEARCH Blockchain for Educational Credentials Digital Credentialling (with a Blockchain Focus) vs
  19. 19. METHODOLOGY WORK PLAN AND TIMETABLE
  20. 20. WP 1: DESK-RESEARCH, INTERVIEWS AND LITERATURE REVIEW Literaturereviewofanypublished literatureon: Applications of blockchain for education Non-financial applications of blockchain more generally Any new and relevant material on blockchain technology more generally, since the 2015 JRC DeskResearchutilisingprimarysourcescovering: The Blockcerts technical specification, governing structure, operations and intellectual property arrangements The OpenBlockChain technical specification, Interviewswithrepresentativesofallrelevant stakeholdersinblockchainandeducation,namely: Employers (Business Europe, Eurochambres) Students (European Students' Union, Erasmus Students Network) Teachers (Education International)
  21. 21. WP 2: CASE STUDIES Blockcerts.org • State-of-the-art and future plans, based on semi-structured interviews with leaders of project • Initial feedback from community to open standard (methodology: workshop conducted online) Open Block Chain • State-of-the-art and future plans, based on semi-structured interviews with leaders of project • Initial feedback from organizations who have piloted each initiative based on semi-structured interviews • Analysis of publicly available reactions to each of the schemes in industry-press. Malta Blockchain Pilot • Interrogation of the reasons for piloting blockchain in Malta (based on open interviews with key stakeholders in the Maltese Ministry for Education and Employment) – needs analysis • Description of the specific plans for and desired results of the Malta pilot, based on analysis of the Memorandum of Understanding, Open Interviews with all project leaders and observation of initial steps taken under the agreement
  22. 22. WORK-PLAN Phase Deadline Project Scoping & Inception End of March WP 1 • Literature Review: 2 weeks • Analysis of Specifications: 1 week • Interviews: 2 weeks • Preparation of WP 1 deliverable: 1 week 15 May WP 2 • Initial Contact with Case Study Leaders: 1 week • First Interviews and Observations: 1 week • Analysis: 1 week • Second Interviews and Observations: 1 week • Reporting and Peer-Review with Case-Leaders: 2 weeks 30 Jun WP 3 • First Draft: 1 week • Response from IPTS: 1 week • Second Draft: 1 week • Finalisation and Editing: 1 week 30 Jul
  23. 23. METHODS  WP 1  Collection of bibliography from open sources  Trend & Policy Analysis  Semi-structured interviews (recorded not transcribed)  WP 2  Open-ended interviews  Document analysis based on material provided by interviewees  Follow-Up Semi-structured interviews  WP 3  Recommendations with confidence and impact analysis (not based on external panels)
  24. 24. QUALITY ASSURANCE Herman de Leeuw
  25. 25. RISK MANAGEMENT Risk Severity Likelihood Mitgating Measures Major Blockchain Developments lead to need to rewrite / redo parts of research Low: May Result in Delays, but will ensure excellent results Low Foresight of trends has been taken into account in study design Unforseen Availability of Primary Researchers (sickness etc) Medium: Could cause significant delays in study Very Low Researchers working as team – one researcher can take over fromm the other Unavailability of Senior Persons for Pilots High: Would result in diminished outcomes Low Contact pilot leaders through personal contacts / introductions Pilots maintain proprietary data / strategies Medium: Would lead to incomplete foresight Medium Allow for off-the record briefings to understand wider context Political / Admin Delays to Malta Pilot Low: would change focus of pilot from implementing blockchain to problems with blockchain implementation Medium Focus study on the process of implementing a blockchain pilot

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