FETC keynote: 5 insights into blockchain’s K-12 impact

Blockchain opens a world of interconnected academic credentials and curriculum, says expert Primavera De Filippi
By: | July 12, 2021
Primavera De Filippi will highlight blockchain's implications for K-12 education at FETC 2022. (Photo: lift16 by Ivo Naeflin)Primavera De Filippi will highlight blockchain's implications for K-12 education at FETC 2022. (Photo: lift16 by Ivo Naeflin)

Blockchain, a highly secure and decentralized type of online database, could soon impact everything from classroom instruction to college transcripts to business operations.

Attendees of the Future of Education Technology® Conference 2022 will learn how blockchain can drive transparency, accountability and interoperability, during the keynote speech by world-renowned expert Primavera De Filippi, an international researcher and faculty associate at the Berkman-Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School.

While the impacts may be more evident in higher education, the technology could soon allow K-12 students and educators to join a world of interconnected academic credentials, allowing learners to prove their knowledge and skills by aggregating verifiable and secure credentials from multiple sources, De Filippi says.

Blockchain will also support more granular curricula that let students aggregate multiple credentials into a wide range of “ad-hoc” diplomas, as opposed to a specific set of predefined degrees delivered by a few institutions, she says.

Here, De Filippi shares some of the highlights of her keynote:

1. What are we going to learn about blockchain during your talk?

“I want to provide an overview of the various ways blockchain technology can contribute to increasing the efficiency and accountability of education institutions. More and more institutions are looking into the technology to understand how they can leverage it to expand the trustworthiness that exists in the system.”

2. What are the biggest ramifications blockchain has for the world of education and learning?

“We can decentralize the storage of all information instead of one university or institution holding all the information about students’ degrees. We can enable individuals to collect their own badges to show they possess particular skillsets.”

FETC Live 2022

The Future of Education Technology® Conference takes place live and in-person Jan. 25-28, 2022, in Orlando.

Students can also host the information on their own, and it can be signed and certified by the institution. If they go to a different institution, they can prove their degrees are correct without the need for the institutions to communicate with each other.

Blockchain technology can standardize and authenticate transcripts, certificates, degrees and diplomas, and there is no need of dealing with the danger of counterfeits—these particular credentials cannot be counterfeited.”

3. So blockchain also provides a pretty impenetrable layer of cybersecurity? 

“You can blockchain systems to not record information directly by recording only the fingerprints of your database, for example. This protects against hacking and manipulation of grades. If someone modifies a grade, the fingerprints of the database no longer match the fingerprints on the blockchain.”

4. What is keeping blockchain from being adopted widely in education? 

“Every school has its own information system, which is oftentimes quite obsolete. Blockchain requires the costs for improvement, and it requires a big learning curve and adopting a whole different mindset.


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Everyone agrees it’s great to open up data, but it may also become obvious how badly formatted and managed it is by opening your data. This makes institutions reticent even though they know they will benefit.

Adopting blockchain also requires some loss of control, and moving toward a system that is a consortium of actors. That can be scary for institutions that are used to being the custodians of all the data. Institutions also will have less ability to manipulate their own data.”

5. What role can educators play in the development of blockchain? 

“We’re still in the early stages of educators actually seeing the technology not as disruptive or as something that might hinder their activities. We need help from them to come up with original ideas for how to use the technology for their own objectives.”