The role of cryptocurrency in modern education

Sep 2, 2018 by

Photo by Icons8 team on Unsplash

Cryptocurrency has already started to impact a whole range of industries. While its adoption as a currency might be slow, the blockchain technology that underpins it is fundamental in improving the security and efficiency of online transactions. The highly safe and decentralized nature of blockchain is ideal for handling sensitive information, and crucially, for negating the need for third party organizations to process it, instead, placing the control with the owners and end-users.

In the 21st century world, that is certain to have repercussions in every sector, not least education.

The changing nature of education

Today’s students have greater flexibility when it comes to what, how and when they study. The increased proliferation of distance learning opportunities, and courses being offered by a growing range of non-university educational establishments have turned the traditional educational model on its head. While universities still have an important role to play, they suddenly find themselves in a competitive environment, and the centralized system that has been in place for so long is gradually losing relevance.

Cryptocurrency as a trading and payment tool

So what has this to do with blockchain and cryptocurrencies? Blockchain itself has a host of applications, but it is in the context of alternative payment methods that it has become most familiar. From an investment perspective, cryptocurrencies have hit the headlines for their volatility – a reputation that is partly deserved, although a closer look at the IOTA value or the behaviour of other altcoins shows that some are more stable than others.

Yet when a student is using a cryptocurrency as a payment mechanism as opposed to an investment, this volatility becomes a moot point anyway. Today, it is a smaller world, and educational establishments and students are linking up from opposite sides of the globe every day. Electronic payments are therefore becoming the rule, and cryptocurrency can be the perfect mechanism for students who might not have access to conventional banking or credit lines.

It also provides the ideal and most secure way for bodies that offer grants or scholarships to make secure transactions. Innovations like these are very much at the developmental stage, but will play an increasing role in education over the years to come.

Using blockchain for personal data

Yet the technology that underlies crypto makes it far more than just an alternative currency or payment mechanism. It also has an important role to play in record keeping and identity verification. Student records, degree certificates and so on are immensely important, yet their handling and maintenance has historically been haphazard. By having this data stored on blockchain, it is completely secure, and can be instantly accessed by those who need it. Even if the university or certification body disappears, the record will not be lost.

Equally important is the fact that it can be held in greater confidentiality. Traditionally, educational records are accessible to whole departments of administrative teams. Using blockchain, access is restricted to those who genuinely need it – and the security is such that hacking or identity theft is practically impossible.

There is a more fundamental aspect at play than convenience and security, however. As experts observed in an EU report, using blockchain gives the owner of the data ultimate power over who can access it. And in the long run, perhaps that will prove to be the most profound effect of all.

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