16 SES 08 A, Emerging Digital Technologies in Education: Problems and prospects
Blockchains is the technology on which Bitcoins are based, a complex technology, still developing, with a tremendous potential and corresponding risks (Pilkington, 2016) whose main promise is a world without intermediaries (Gupta, 2017). Blockchains were first implemented in the financial world (Allison, 2015) and were then extended to other fields, for example in controlling the quality of wine (Parker, 2015), authors’ rights (Capps, 2016) and medical registers (Pérez, 2016). For some years now, the distinction between formal and non-formal or informal learning is becoming blurry, and as a results, the distinction between learning that is being accredited and learning that is not is also fading (La Belle, 1982; Tuijnman & Boström, 2002). This has made it necessary to think about the accreditation of competencies (abilities, knowledge and even attitudes) acquired in non-formal or informal settings. Using blockchains it is possible to accredit the competencies acquired by a student in a way that makes it impossible to manipulate or change the data. The data are disseminated through a distributed system and do not reside in a single location which may be vulnerable to outside attacks or violations of its integrity. Blockchains constitute a technology which allows for “educational records which are duly accredited and combined with a system of negotiable reputations” and the first to profit from this would obviously be a transinstitutional accreditation system (Sharples & Domingue, 2016). In 2015, MIT Media lab provided participants of its Director’s Fellows program with certificates which were authenticated by Blockchain technology (Raths, 2016). According to Devine (2015), this amounts to a universal transfer of credits between institutions. The number of institutions using this technology is increasing: Open University in the UK, the University of Nikosia and Holberton School are but a few examples (Bartolomé et al., 2017). Blockchains is a new technology whose implementation is in its first stages; its viability as well as it efficacy still need to be shown. It does have its critics, but the coming years will show us its true value.
Devine, P.M. (2015). Blockchain learning: can crypto-currency methods be appropriated to enhance online learning? In: Proceedings of ALT Online Winter Conference 2015, 7-10 December 2015. http://oro.open.ac.uk/44966/ La Belle, T. J. (1982). Formal, nonformal and informal education: A holistic perspective on lifelong learning. International Review of Education, 28(2), 159-175. doi:10.1007/BF00598444 Parker, L. (2015). Provenance to restore consumer trust with the blockchain. Brave New Coin (5/12/2015). https://bravenewcoin.com/news/provenance-to-restore-consumer-trust-with-the-blockchain/ Pilkington, M. (2016). Blockchain Technology: Principles and Applications. In F. Xavier Olleros & Majlinda Zhegu (Eds.), Research Handbook on Digital Transformations (pp. 225-253). Northampton (MA): Edward Elgar. Pérez, I. (2016). Así puede ser el futuro del Blockchain en la salud según las grandes empresas. Criptonoticias (29/8/2016). http://criptonoticias.com/aplicaciones/futuro-blockchain-salud-grandes-empresas Raths, D. (2016). How Blockchain Will Disrupt the Higher Education Transcript. Campus technology (16/05/2016). http://oro.open.ac.uk/44966/ Sharples, M. & Domingue, J. (2016). The Blockchain and Kudos: A Distributed System for Educational Record, Reputation and Reward. En Verbert, K., Sharples, M., and Klobuˇcar, T. (eds.) Adaptive and Adaptable Learning. Switzerland: Springer, pp. 490–496. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-45153-4_48
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