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I am curious what problem this Education group thinks Blockchain/Ledgers will solve?


Erik Anderson
 

I just found this group. Sorry, not intending to troll but I want to be direct.

I am curious what problem people believe that Blockchain/Public ledgers will solve in the education space?

In my experience, Blockchain is a religion not a reality. See something wrong in the world, any injustice, and "insert Blockchain" cryptobabble. Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, an economic miracle accessible to anyone with a mobile device. Well this is where Blockchain takes its roots.

ANY Blockchain/Ledger project is about business modeling/choreography not technology. Blockchain-of-fools will insert the Blockchain word every sentence

THAT said, Blockchain may have 1 use case that I can throw out. This would avoid many legal/liability issues that people encounter in public ledger technology. I will likely require a reorganization of the Government but ...

Public Funds. If, say public/Government funds were used to help unemployed Americans get new skills for better jobs, then those records on the public ledger should be fully transparent and auditable. Usage of funds, users identity, test scores, etc. All auditable. Users will give up their privacy for anything free, like the use of public funds.

This would allow you to use a public ledger technology yet avoid most of the technology pitfalls, legal issues, liability issues, etc.

Simple means maintainable. Go too deep into the cryptobabble fashion statements and you are guaranteed failure for many reasons. Simpler approach means you can building a community, 1 class, 1 test score at a time, at a much lower cost.

WARNING: Without censorship-resistance/privacy any Blockchain/DLT becomes a very expensive database. I am not sure the public funds is the right use case but I havent seen any better.

I fully support the digital transformation of education. Money is being rewritten into code so could education, but, I am skeptical where a Public Ledger fits into the solution. Mobile + public services will power the education transformation, not a ledger.

Erik Anderson
Bloomberg LP
My-Opinion-Is-My-Own


Courtney Modecki
 

Hi Erik,


This is the first major public sector ATO in blockchain and has already proven to be high ROI. It’s not hard to see the alignment in this use case against the same business needs of an academic institution. 

Perhaps this brings some additional perspective to your question/statement below.

Best,

Courtney Modecki
Adaptive Intelligence, LLC 
HUBZone, EDWOSB


On Mar 9, 2020, at 9:36 PM, Erik Anderson <eanders@...> wrote:

I just found this group. Sorry, not intending to troll but I want to be direct.

I am curious what problem people believe that Blockchain/Public ledgers will solve in the education space?

In my experience, Blockchain is a religion not a reality. See something wrong in the world, any injustice, and "insert Blockchain" cryptobabble. Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, an economic miracle accessible to anyone with a mobile device. Well this is where Blockchain takes its roots.

ANY Blockchain/Ledger project is about business modeling/choreography not technology. Blockchain-of-fools will insert the Blockchain word every sentence

THAT said, Blockchain may have 1 use case that I can throw out. This would avoid many  legal/liability issues that people encounter in public ledger technology. I will likely require a reorganization of the Government but ...

Public Funds. If, say public/Government funds were used to help unemployed Americans get new skills for better jobs, then those records on the public ledger should be fully transparent and auditable. Usage of funds, users identity, test scores, etc. All auditable. Users will give up their privacy for anything free, like the use of public funds.

This would allow you to use a public ledger technology yet avoid most of the technology pitfalls, legal issues, liability issues, etc.

Simple means maintainable. Go too deep into the cryptobabble fashion statements and you are guaranteed failure for many reasons. Simpler approach means you can building a community, 1 class, 1 test score at a time, at a much lower cost.

WARNING: Without censorship-resistance/privacy any Blockchain/DLT becomes a very expensive database. I am not sure the public funds is the right use case but I havent seen any better.

I fully support the digital transformation of education. Money is being rewritten into code so could education, but, I am skeptical where a Public Ledger fits into the solution. Mobile + public services will power the education transformation, not a ledger.

Erik Anderson
Bloomberg LP
My-Opinion-Is-My-Own




sharon.leu@...
 

Hi Erik,

A few notes for a great, ongoing conversation.  

First, in general, agree with your final point that a ledger will not "power" education transformation, though I'd say that neither will mobile + public services, or any other technology will.  An abundance of experience and evidence on technology implementations in education really does show any particular technology is effective for digital transformation only when applied to an appropriate purpose and deployed with appropriate user supports (re: smartboards, anyone?).

Second, probably disagree that public funds, when used to help unemployed Americans has skills gains as the ultimate end and thus a metric to capture and audit.  Skills gains are functional goals that allow individuals to achieve greater mobility in the economy and the ultimate end should be whether wages increase, new jobs are acquired, etc.  That is why those are the metrics that are captured wrt our investment in education grants, workforce training programs, unemployment services, etc.  That said, skills that individuals can display, whose origins and quality can be demonstrated and verified, should be auditable, not because of public funding, but because that is the key to an individual being able to exchange it freely in a marketplace of working and learning and achieve mobility.

I very much appreciate your comment, though.  As education insiders, we all acknowledge that the education ecosystem incredibly complex, more so than is apparent from casual observation or singular experience.  And so many people feel like their own educational experience is the appropriate lens through which the system should be evaluated.  Your observations reveal a very serious shortcoming of our community - that we are not good at articulating either the complexities or the potential problems to be solved.  I feel I can confidently speak for the community in stating that our key interests in DLTs/blockchains are for verifiable credentials and self sovereign identity, though in both cases, we find that the "stock" blockchain architecture does not map directly into the education use case.  For example, differences in definitions, etc.  

Here is the beginning of a series my team has begun to assemble, that I hope will clarify where we think is the opportunity for the education use case.  https://medium.com/@OfficeofEdTech/education-have-a-problem-put-a-blockchain-on-it-bc2574826752

It is a great simplification of the complexities of records of student achievement, but keep an eye out for updates, including some really exciting landscape analysis and research coming later this spring, and additional posts that describe the landscape. 

It is our hope to draw expertise from others, including yourself, to help us with fresh eyes on our problem space, and hopefully entice you to participate in an incredibly important conversation about empowering learners and workers over a lifetime and especially in providing opportunity for those woefully underserved in this changing economy.

Please do reach out and continue this conversation.  And at some point, we'll update our charter with more built out use cases so that we are more welcoming to education non-insiders!

Sharon Leu


Hou, Feng
 

Hi Erik,

Sorry I did not see your posting till now and you certainly have brought up some interesting issues/concerns re. the value of a “ledger” that can help transform education as many of us, myself included believe. 

As the EASIG Chair, I am happy to share with you my opinions under the assumption that you have read the charter for the EASIG group. If not, I highly recommend you doin so as it addresses several issues you have commented on. 

First, when I was at Central New Mexico Community College, we implemented the Blockcerts learning credential solution from Learning Machine. Over 60% of the students adopted the new technology and 44% of the credentials were verified uniquely by the local employers. I interviewed several employers myself, they told me that the time the blockchain solution has saved them and the money are the 2 primary reasons they embraced the technology. You may or may not know that an academic credential today in US takes about a week to 30 days to verify and the average cost per verification costs about $130. With the blockchain solution, it can reduce the time down significantly to even seconds and the verification is free. 

Also, as you may or may not know, blockchain is more than just a ledger. Tokenization of education has the potential to create more smart pathways for academic success for students. Tokenization can even help reform the student loan system as we know it. 

So, you asked what problem this Education group thinks Blockchain/Ledgers will solve? Well, besides what Sharon has so eloquently responded, I’ll just echo that interoperability and access/inclusiveness are what we need to focus on  

I thanks again for your comments!

Feng


Taylor Kendal
 

Hey Erik,

First rule of trolling; never admit you're trolling :) This leads me to believe you're engaging in good faith, so welcome and thanks for your comments.
I would agree that DLT fanaticism can border on religious, but since the BitConnects of 2017 have faded, I'm not sure it's necessarily the case, and certainly isn't with this group. Is there not truth in the wisdom of Arthur C.? Was the Internet itself not @magic just a couple of decades ago? I'm not sure we should make the claim that distributed tech is as significant, but I'm also not sure we should assume it can't be. History has a funny way of repeating itself.

While I'm largely in favor of transparency as an enabler, I too am unsure about the public funds use-case. As Sharon mentions, I think it's much more about individuals being able to exchange skills freely in a marketplace of working and learning--that's the magic sauce. With a distributed and trusted infrastructure (yes, there's a lot of work to do), I think we can begin to imagine a fairly compelling case for this group's existence and our shared interest in exploring the possibilities. 

You're absolutely right about the need for simple approaches accompanied by community outreach and education (I'm slowly trying to do my part and am also super excited about the coming landscape analysis). The simple pilots are happening, and while I would argue that there are absolutely proven models of blockchains being used to great effect (supply chain mgmt, DeFi, energy, etc.), the education system broadly isn't one of them...yet.

I think most here would agree that DLT is a component part of a much larger, complex puzzle. Public services, identity, policy, etc. are all just as important. This is a group with a special interest in education architecture. Weaving an upgraded quilt will require a diverse tapestry of people and products; some surely yet to be realized. I hope you'll stick around and help us thread a few needles, and please feel free to get in touch.

-Taylor Kendal