For an Open Innovation Platform Dedicated to Education: A Blockchain Approach

For an Open Innovation Platform Dedicated to Education: A Blockchain Approach

Luciano Sathler (Brazilian Association for Distance Education, Brazil)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-9478-9.ch008


The innovation ecosystem dedicated to education in Brazil has been strengthened, but it is still far short of the needs of society and the potential that technology brings. The imperative of transformation is articulated by urgency—it is necessary to accelerate innovation—and by the comprehensiveness. Brazil's strategy of public financing to education would include new edtech products and services previously tested, validated, and priced by reverse auction made available in a national marketplace. It would be up to each municipality or school to define its priorities for the acquisition of technology products and services. Any software developed or made available by this open innovation platform should follow the guidelines of a free software. The training of teachers, managers, and staff would be an obligatory part of the adhesion, being primarily online. Students and their families would be included as potential users by a blockchain approach.
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A Blockchain Approach To An Open Innovation Platform For The Brazilian Educational System

Brazil faces a profound crisis that demands innovative responses from its educational system. People finish high school with severe learning disabilities and often late in their lives. Graduates from Higher Education occupy low-paid, generalist jobs, with the growing need for more graduates in the STEM areas.

Adult education needs to become a priority to ensure lifelong learning and to adapt people to the demands of the digital economy. Technological advances, plus a shortage of skilled workers, force governments, companies and non-profit organizations to upskill the workers they have, to teach them new proficiencies.

In a country of continental size and a huge portion of the population with a lack of university and school education, it is essential to be able to verify the veracity of the information to combat the amount of fraudulent certificates and diplomas, as well as to allow the performance in public and private consortia to check learning trails developed by each.

According to The International Telecommunication Union (2019), blockchain is one of Distributed Ledger Technologies (DLT) with the “potential to be adopted into vertical and horizontal domains, where the vertical domain includes applications and services enabled by DLT in the financial, healthcare, information and communication technology, entertainment, industrial, government and public sectors, while the horizontal domain covers services applicable across sectors, such as identity management, security and data management.”

DLT can be seen as a form of General Purpose Technology (GPT). A GPT is a technology that on top of standing for itself – also brings gains to other technologies and sectors. It may take a long time to reach mass adoption, but once adopted GPT leads to productivity gains across multiple industries. Classic examples of GPTs include the steam engine, electricity and the internet. DLT revolutionizes the way we look at data in terms of trust, anonymity, storage, and processing. Being in the information era, where “data is everything”, DLT’s innovative approach to handling information and its agnosticism to the types of data it handles, make it a useful tool in many fields of business, administration, research and government – thus the designation as a GPT. (ITU, 2019)

There are many possibilities to innovate with blockchain in open and distance education, especially the use case in to transform the “record keeping” of degrees, certificates and diplomas.

In a recent publication of the U.S. Education Department (2019), it explains that blockchains works with each new set of transactions, “blocks,” recorded and cryptographically linked to the previous record, forming a chain. Also highlight the key characteristics of a blockchain as: “integrity – records are cryptographically linked, making them nearly impossible to change; transparency – because every network user has their own copy of the entire blockchain, updates are shared and transparent; democracy – blockchains enable verification of peer-to-peer transactions to occur without a centralized mediator.”

Diplomas and certificates can be created in blockchain, in order to be digital rather than physical, as well as ensuring security, transparency and reliability of information contained in the blockchain - once inserted in the blockchain can no longer be removed -, and only participants from the blockchain network can create new diplomas.

This could be an important action in combating the forgery of diplomas, as well as having permanent access to it, because the information will remain forever in the blockchain, even if the institution no longer exists the diploma remains in the blockchain safely and the student will be able to have quick access to this information as long as you have the access key.

Adaptive Learning could benefit from a blockchain approach. It refers to the set of tools employed to customize teaching processes to the student's particularities. In general, the model is based on technology solutions such as software and online platforms. These features allow you to create different tracks or progress maps for each student. The formatting of the path to be followed within a discipline and the pace of the knowledge journey are determined by the user himself. In practice, the system does it for him.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Open Innovation: The term open innovation means a situation where an organisation doesn’t just rely on their own internal knowledge, sources and resources (such as their own staff or R&D for example) for innovation (of products, services, business models, processes etc.) but also uses multiple external sources (such as customer feedback, published patents, competitors, external agencies, the public etc.) to drive innovation. There are two types of open innovation: inbound open innovation, and outbound open innovation. Inbound innovation is about sourcing and acquiring expertise from outside the organisation, and scanning the external environment for new information to identify, select, utilise and internalise ideas. Outbound innovation is the purposive commercialisation and capture of internally developed ideas in the organisation’s external environment. This might be through selective revealing of a product to journalists and reviewers or selectively selling the technology or service to customers with a view to getting feedback (The Oxford Review Encyclopaedia of Terms, 2019 AU10: The in-text citation "The Oxford Review Encyclopaedia of Terms, 2019" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. ).

Alternative Credential: A credential issued by a higher educational institution attesting to the skills, competencies, or know-how other than degrees, diplomas, or other learning attestations issued by na institution. Alternative credentials are more granular statements of capabilities and are relevant to workforce or professional needs (ICDE, 2019 AU9: The in-text citation "ICDE, 2019" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. ).

Blockchain Approach: From a combination of technologies that together can create networks that secure trust between people or parties who otherwise have no reason to trust one another, it utilises distributed ledger technology to store information verified by cryptography among a group of users, which is agreed through a pre-defined network protocol, often without the control of a central authority, what enable’s a secure transfer of value and data directly between parties ( OECD, 2018 ).

Reverse Auction: Is a type of auction in which sellers bid for the prices at which they are willing to sell their goods and services. In a regular auction, a seller puts up an item and buyers place bids until the close of the auction, at which time the item goes to the highest bidder.

EdTech: The term is an acronym for the words ‘education’ and ‘technology’. Although the education startup concept is comprehensive, it is possible to define two characteristics that stand out in this category of company: the use of some form of technology, which means the systematic application of scientific knowledge to practical tasks; technology as a facilitator of learning processes and improvement of educational systems, generating effectiveness and efficiency.

Distance Education: Term used for open, distance, flexible and, mainly in our days, online education, including e-learning. Accord to King, Young and Schrader (2001) , distance learning is improved capabilities in knowledge and/or behaviors as a result of mediated experiences that are constrained by time and/or distance such that the learner does not share the same situation with what is being learned. From this definition of distance learning flows our definition of distance education. Distance education is formalized instructional learning where the time/geographic situation constrains learning by not affording in-person contact between student and instructor. In person education is formalized instructional learning where the time/geographic situation constrains learning by requiring synchronous person-to-person interaction.

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