- Blockchain will have the biggest value in higher education in areas where trust is essential to the value chain in institutional operations, such as evaluation of student transcripts, processing of applications and maintenance of articulation agreements, said Oral Roberts University CIO Michael Mathews, at The Blockchain in Education Conference hosted by the institution in May, reports Campus Technology.
- From an infrastructure standpoint, Mathews said institutions have to establish a secure digital identity by investing in software that allows the credential recipient and granter to have a seamless and trusted connection, allowing for students to have a diploma that is stored safely within their digital wallet. This could mean working with a third-party application developer or developing the capability in-house.
- But before fully investing in blockchain, higher education leaders must take these steps, said Mathews: Spend a significant amount of time researching how the technology is impacting the industry and educate staff about it; test the technology to see if it follows validation and security procedures; and collaborate with other institutions to share best tips and practices.
Blockchain technology has gained industry focus during the last couple of years as infrastructure that could make cumbersome processes more seamless. Because blockchain operates through a ledger of peer-to-peer up to date and verified data, it would allow for students to own their credentials and more easily share them with other institutions or employers.
Central New Mexico Community College is one institution troubleshooting blockchain by issuing digital credentials, while others are developing research centers around the technology to better understand its value and application.
While there's promise, there are also some caveats to consider. For instance, Bill Halverson, chief technology officer for CNM Ingenuity, told Education Dive "the biggest challenge is the unknown," because there is still more work to be done on how to support the technology. "How do you know for your staff how to solve issues and help students know how to maintain their credentials with encrypted keys securely?" he said.