Blockchain Technology in Higher Education: Prospects, Issues, and Challenges

Blockchain Technology in Higher Education: Prospects, Issues, and Challenges

Irshad Hussain (Department of Education, The Islamia University of Bahawalpur, Pakistan) and Ozlem Cakir (Faculty of Educational Science, Ankara University, Turkey)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 16
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-9478-9.ch005

Abstract

Blockchain, which is also called a distributed ledger technology (DLT), is an emerging and ever advancing technology having flourishing potential for nourishing and revolutionizing higher education. It stems in decentralization and distributed learning with characteristics of permanence of records, pursuit and transfer of knowledge, authority of institutions, and reliability of teaching and learning. These characteristics of blockchain attract educational institutions particularly the higher education institutions to adopt it. However, in spite of all potential and benefits of blockchain technology, the higher education stakeholders currently seem to be less aware of the social benefits and educational/instructional potential of blockchain technology. It can be addressed through proper advocacy and campaign. The complete chapter will demonstrate possibilities of blockchain technologies in higher education along with its issues and challenges.
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Introduction

The 21st century is regarded as the century of information, knowledge, innovations & inventions and information and communication technologies (ICTs). The innovations and inventions in capacities and capabilities of the ICTs have generated new opportunities and avenues of their applications in almost all fields of human life including education and training. The use of ICTs has generated new ways getting information instantly. And therefore, the new global opportunities and challenges seem to be linked with emerging ICTs and innovations; particularly, when these are used for development of skills and recognition of credentials of the graduates across the globe. Even so, the ever emerging ways of access to information and learning has given boost to internationalization. Seemingly, the ICTs and internationalization seem to have created new competitive learning and working environments which need new skills for learning and new ways of working. This context envisages enormous technology-based opportunities of the nature of human-technology interaction and the internationalization is serving this objective in a better way through ICTs.

Even so, the advancements in ICTs –the digital technologies appear to be transforming the entire land scape of education and training by introducing new methods of pedagogy, assessment and award of credentials. These innovative methods of credentialing consist of presenting, recognizing and validating learning outcomes which are broadly diversified and adherent to lifelong learning of the graduates. In this way the use of digital technologies in education and training is becoming supportive to new pedagogies & learning styles, instructional materials, monitoring of instructional process, assessment and certification. In higher education the use of such technologies becomes more significant as the graduates from higher education institutions (HEIs) are expected to take up their practical life.

Apparently, credentials and academic records seem to be the important and lifelong assets of the graduates. Traditionally, paper-based credentials had been prepared, maintained, awarded and recognized throughout the world. But the innovations in existing ICTs and emergence of the new ones have granted digital recognition to the credentials of graduates. Therefore, ICTs-supported digital records of credentials and open data sources are complementing traditional qualifications’ repositories. Here the digital credentialing is referred to as Blockchain or blockchain technology.

The Conceptual Framework

Blockchain is an emerging concept and appears as a disruptive technology. It emerged as an innovation in ICTs. It has the power of restructuring business and different other trades and services (Clohessy, Acton, Godfrey, & Houston, 2018) in human life including education and training. When compared to other technologies and their applications blockchain technology seems in its fledgling state and needs time to establish its significance with a wider role in introducing and promoting digital credentials and repositories. Although it is in its fledgling state yet it has a great potential of transforming the entire land scape of higher education by digitizing the credentials and eliminating the need for third party which is required for promoting security and confidentiality in a trustworthy way. Some key concepts are associated with Blockchain technology to explain it a better way. These are given below.

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