Although I am not a professional educator, I have experienced many forms of education including public K-12 schooling, afterschool programs, private universities at both undergraduate and graduate levels, and ongoing education in the form of self-directed online courses and intensive certification programs.
Through my experiences, I have found that each student learns in a different way. Educators may become frustrated with the limitations of the current system including lack of time, resources, or in some cases a legal way to work outside a standard curriculum.
Employers and higher education institutions are looking for ways to verify that there is no fraud when reviewing student records.
Interests and Incentives for A Blockchain Educational System
The original Bitcoin whitepaper, written by Satoshi Nakamoto, described the technical implementation of Bitcoin, a digital peer-to-peer currency. Beyond the technical descriptors and more importantly, Satoshi’s whitepaper described a framework for behavioral and financial incentives which ensure the propagation, ongoing usage, and maintenance of a fully decentralized monetary system.
I believe the prerequisite task for solving a large problem with the blockchain is to work through the incentive structure. When looking at incentives for an educational system on the blockchain, we need to first define the participants and then work through an incentivization structure that is a win-win-win for all parties involved.
Defining the Triad of Participants in a Blockchain Education Solution
I propose that an initial solution for blockchain-based education system has 3 types of participants which closely resemble the current reality of education: Students, Certification Bodies, and Educators.
Some participant variations may include:
- Professional and Ongoing Education
- Skill based trade workers
- K-12 Students (tutor seeking)
Testing and Certification Bodies
- Traditional Educational Institutions
- Trade Schools
- Certification Program a la Global Blockchain Alliance
- Online-centric learning platforms
- Individual Teachers
- Educational Institutions
- Online Course Providers
- Artificial Intelligence or programmatic curriculums
Simple Use Case For Illustration
I provide the following simplified example, followed by related governance and incentive mechanisms:
Posting of Certification and Student Registration
Global Blockchain Association posts a certification opportunity to the blockchain. A student would find the opportunity, apply , and commit to the posted certification and associated deadlines. The certification body would then approve of the student’s registration. The student would then have this certification as the achievement that they can take to a marketplace of potential educators.
Student / Educator Matching and Bounty System
The student would then offer a financial bounty to the education marketplace, which would be reviewable by a pool of potential educators. Educators would submit proposals to the bounty which would then be reviewed by the student. Once a bounty is accepted by both the student and educator, the bounty funds would sit in an escrow smart contract during the learning process to be released upon certification success (or failure).
Customized Learning Process Toward Certification Goals
The student and educator would then independently begin the learning process together, with a goal of learning the material well enough to confidently pass certification testing.
Test Taking, Certification, and Bounty Fulfillment
After studying under the leadership of the educator based on the educator’s proposal, the student would take the test and the results would stored immutably the blockchain. A passing grade on the test leads to automatic certification awarded in real-time to the test taker’s blockchain address. Upon passing certification award, the escrowed bounty would be released to the educator.
Governance and Incentives
Governance of the testing protocol and mechanisms would be determined outside of the blockchain by the Certification and Testing entity. The entity could force test takers to perform testing at a secure, monitored testing location to avoid cheating. The entity could also outline parameters of certifications, limitations, and timelines in a smart contract published immutably to the blockchain.
Educators could build reputation and performance metrics in a number of ways, including certification completion percentage as well as other objective measurements and even subjective student ratings. At the most basic level, the educator would be incentivized to successfully educate students in the topic provided in order to earn financial bounties. The educators would also be incentivized to educate the student in the most effective manner for their specific students to increase chances of success, decrease risk of failure, and increase speed of the educational process in order to profitably scale the curriculum to more students. Also, educators would understand that the results of their training would be stored permanently on the blockchain and their performance could be instantly verified by anyone in real-time.
Students would be incentivized by having a pool of educators and bounty proposals from which to choose. Students would be free to choose proposals that best fit their learning style along with other factors they value ,and would also be incentivized to pass tests in order to advance their education in a timely fashion.
Students should also understand that the incentives of educators are in the best interest of both parties to achieve the certification goals. As a result of certifications being published to an immutable blockchain, students would also have a real-time proof and verification of their certification to share with potential employers or other educational institutions.
This essay outlines my initial thoughts on a simple blockchain-based educational bounty system that aims to incentivize and reward all participants in the educational process. A blockchain solution is necessary to provide the mechanisms for verification, financial transactions, and trustless interactions in a marketplace of certifications, students, and educators.
Please feel free to comment here on the proposed solution or reach me on social media: