UNESCO Blockchain and Education (2022)
The advent of COVID-19 has provided ample evidence for the need to build the resilience of institutions, systems and processes in the education sector. The increase in natural disasters has also had an impact on education, as data systems in disaster-affected areas have been damaged, irreversibly in some cases. In a context where the risk of climate-induced disasters is increasing, countries will need to treat incorporating data resilience in education as a fundamental aspect of disaster planning. Blockchain technology can be a key asset in this respect.
Blockchain is a shared, decentralized and secure ledger technology to record and store digital transactions of almost any digital assets including digital identities, medical and educational records, birth and marriage certificates, skill credentials and digital contracts.Promising initiatives with blockchain demonstrate that it is already possible to deploy the technology to cover credentialing and certification in both formal and non-formal learning settings. At least 56% per year is the expected growth of the blockchain market during the forecast period.
Blockchain is an infrastructure for identity verification, which is one of the most relevant functions of this emerging technology in education. When a digital identity verification system can persist irrespective of the nature and extent of external changes, verifying the ownership of digital assets becomes easier. Certificates of attainment are increasingly issued in the digital realm, such as micro credentials. They can be linked to a core system of identity verification, namely blockchain, and authenticated more easily across institutional and national boundaries. Such an approach can also be useful in promoting transnational movement of qualifications.
This publication demonstrates and assesses the emerging practices of applying blockchain technologies in education. Primarily targeting policy-makers, the publication is divided into four parts:
- Part 1 engages with a set of essential knowledge on blockchain technologies presented as questions and answers.
- Part 2 focuses on issues related to the emerging practices associated with the use of blockchain within an education context, highlighting the use of blockchain for digital certificates, credentials, intellectual data management, smart contracts and performance-based payments.
- Part 3 explores the applicability of the technology in a set of use case scenarios, including the notarization of intellectual property rights and educational funding.
- Part 4 iterates the humanistic principles to steer the use of blockchain in education to safeguard human rights, inclusion, equality, gender equality and the sustainability of the environment and ecosystems.This publication also sheds light on the implications of blockchain technologies for gender equality while drawing attention to the negative impact of the use of blockchain, especially on the environment and ecosystems.