Decentralising Open Education Using Blockchain Technology

Alexander Mikroyannidis

The emergence of the Blockchain promises to revolutionise not only the financial world, but also open education in various ways. Blockchain technology offers a decentralised peer-to-peer infrastructure, where privacy, secure archiving, consensual ownership, transparency, accountability, identity management and trust are built-in, both at the software and infrastructure levels. This technology offers opportunities to thoroughly rethink how we find educational content and tutoring services online, how we register and pay for them, as well as how we get accredited for what we have learned and how this accreditation affects our career trajectory.

The QualiChain research and innovation project focuses on the assessment of the technical, political, socio-economic, legal and cultural impact of decentralised solutions on education. QualiChain investigates the creation, piloting and evaluation of decentralised solutions for storing, sharing and verifying education and employment qualifications and explores the potential of Blockchain technology for disrupting the domain of open education, as well as its interfaces with private education, the job market, public sector administrative procedures and the wider socio-economic developments.

This hands-on workshop will explore the different aspects of open education and lifelong learning that are affected by decentralisation. More specifically, we will discuss the ways that ePortfolios, accreditation, tutoring, as well as other aspects of teaching and learning can evolve within a decentralised ecosystem based on the Blockchain. Participants will also have the opportunity to try out and evaluate the open-source online platform offered by the QualiChain project for the Blockchain-based award and verification of education and employment qualifications.

The following outlines the structure of this workshop:1. Presentation: Introduction to Blockchain technology and the QualiChain project (10 minutes).2. First activity: Participants discuss scenarios for the use of Blockchain technology in open education (20 minutes).3. Second activity: Participants try out and evaluate the QualiChain platform (20 minutes).4. Discussion on the overall findings and closing (10 minutes).

At the end of this workshop, participants will have acquired:- An awareness of what Blockchain technology is, how it is currently being used and what its potential is.- A good overview of the range of scenarios for the use of Blockchain technology in open education.- Hands-on experience using the open-source online platform offered by the QualiChain project.- An insight into best practices for designing a decentralised ecosystem based on the Blockchain.