How Blockchain is Impacting eLearning Industry

03Jul

Blockchain is the latest buzzword when we talk about digital transformation technologies. This versatile futuristic technology has even the potential to disrupt the corporate training industry. Hence visionary leaders have already started leveraging this disruptive technology for their eLearning platforms.

Blockchain explained in less than 100 words 

Blockchain is a distributed ledger. Let’s see how blockchain works in banking. If a bank operates on a distributed ledger, every member would have a copy of the ledger. And whenever someone makes a purchase, every other member gets notified. Each member would then verify the transaction and add it to the ledger. The added record is called a “block”. These blocks get added forming a chain – a logical sequence of transactions. Blockchain ensures complete surveillance, as there’s no centralized authority that could manipulate the record. Therefore, whenever a ledger is hacked, the other ledgers can easily verify it.

This multifaceted technology can be applied to various sectors including finance, healthcare, supply chain, banking, federal, education and also to eLearning.

How blockchain has an impact on eLearning industry

In 2017, blockchain rose to prominence especially with the advent of the cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum. The blockchain has the power to disrupt almost any industry. So, does this mean it can also impact the LMS industry? Having realized its potential, some education startups have started integrating this digital transformation technology to solve the most common problems in the online education space.

The beauty of the blockchain is that it can be applied to any vertical and after having been successfully integrated into the finance industry, it is now aiming at disrupting the corporate training sector, LXP, and continuing education industries.

As per Wikipedia,

It is “an open, distributed ledger that can record transactions between two parties efficiently and in a verifiable and permanent way”. For use as a distributed ledger, a blockchain is typically managed by a peer-to-peer network collectively adhering to a protocol for inter-node communication and validating new blocks. Once recorded, the data in any given block cannot be altered retroactively without the alteration of all subsequent blocks, which requires a consensus of the network majority.

Leveraging distributed ledgers for eLearning credentials

Job applicants, retail staff, restaurant workforce, and deskless employees are required to keep up with the changing technology. Hence, they are often asked to enhance their skill sets through specific training offered by their employers. Thanks to blockchain technology, procuring an “official” transcript of one’s educational documents and preserving it is made possible. For instance, if an employee’s University has been destroyed or school shuts down, even in the case of a refugee fleeing a war-torn country — the qualification and certification credentials might not be available. However, if the credentials are uploaded to a decentralized system, both the learner and employer can always access them. The employers can easily verify that the learner has completed coursework as claimed—and could verify that the educational institution providing the credentials is legitimate and is itself accredited.

Is blockchain really needed in eLearning industry?

blockchain lms

The purpose of Learning Management System is to train, educate, and empower employees with new skills and knowledge. Those acquired skills should be presented by credentials, often in the form of digital certificates or digital badges) that are awarded by organizations to individuals after completion of their training. These certifications are then verified and “acknowledged” as true by the audit people.  The entire ecosystem depends on trust but with the help of blockchain, a proper verification protocol can be established.

How can this technology be used for digital learning?

If you are looking for a short-term profit then you can definitely take cues from the Long Island Iced Tea Corporation. They took a weird yet smart approach and renamed their company to Long Blockchain Corp. which dramatically increased their stock exchange value by 500%. Now, they have decided to actually implement blockchain technologies. However, this kind of marketing gimmick won’t help in the long run. You should adopt a more sustainable approach and integrate blockchain technology in your eLearning platform. 

First, you need to identify your relevant stakeholders who include your learners, eLearning service providers, and supervisors. Since the benefits of the blockchain include transparency and verification of the records, the most useful application in eLearning would be managing qualifications. The biggest issue in the corporate training ecosystem is trust. All the involved parties must believe the other stakeholders are telling the truth. This is where credential verification becomes extremely important, and it’s also why credential security goes back so far.

Further developments for eLearning

Obviously, this is just one application scenario for the usage of blockchain in the eLearning sector. There are many more possibilities like the usage for paying eLearning content, the verification of training that is relevant for compliance, or the representation of lifelong learning inside the blockchain.

Furthermore, there are additional developments like smart contracts that can also be used to develop another application scenario. In the near future, this technology will develop to new application areas and use cases. Therefore, further analysis is needed.