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Blockchain in Education

The recent and rapid evolution of distributed computing and blockchain technology has pushed us to rethink and reimagine many of the foundational aspects of our traditional systems of education. Concepts like trust, value, privacy, and identity are all coming into question as we usher in a new suite of technologies. Through this transition, the Office of Education Technology (OET) is convening stakeholders across the learning continuum to ensure we equitably shape the ever-evolving technological landscape of the American education system.

Education Blockchain Initiative

Launched in partnership with the American Council on Education in February 2020, the Education Blockchain Initiative (EBI) explores novel applications of distributed ledger technologies like blockchain to address complex challenges in education. EBI focuses particular attention on understanding how blockchain technology can facilitate the secure, traceable, and verifiable exchange of educational data among institutions in the learning and employment ecosystem.

Looking to learn more about how blockchain can unlock workforce and educational opportunity? Check out this comprehensive report, Connected Impact.

Blockchain Innovation Challenge

As part of the Education Blockchain Initiative, the U.S. Department of Education and ACE launched the Blockchain Innovation Challenge (BIC) to explore how blockchain technology can empower individuals and unlock opportunities for economic opportunity and social mobility.

Through this challenge, we called upon technology developers, together with educators, students, policymakers, industry leaders, and the public to blockchain enabled ecosystems that reorient the education and employment ecosystem around the individuals that they aim to serve.

This challenge invited teams to articulate a vision and design pilots that empowered all learners, unlocked lifelong learning, and improved economic mobility. In doing so, the teams addressed three important characteristics of an ecosystem-first design approach:

  • Building community and consensus
  • Interoperability and open design
  • Data literacy and agency

The BIC will make awards totaling $900,000 over two phases of competition. The four Phase 1 winners will each receive $150,000 and begin the development of a minimum viable product (MVP) with their ecosystem partners. During this development phase, these winners will also receive on-ground assistance, expert mentorship, including from the Amazon blockchain managed services team, as they plan, run, refine, and report on their projects. In May 2021, the Department and ACE will invite teams to demonstrate their MVP and the interoperability of data across projects in order to receive Phase 2 award.

Learn more about the launch of the Blockchain Innovation Challenge

Learn about the Phase 1 Winners

Education Blockchain Action Network

The Office of Educational Technology (OET) invites you to explore and contribute to the Education Blockchain Action Network: a shared, community-driven, action-oriented space for conversation, community curation, and open source project development. Educators, administrators, parents, students, and technology developers are invited to work collectively to learn, influence, and equitably shape the ways in which these new technologies affect our shared future.

Contribute | Education Blockchain Action Network

Guiding Questions

  • What are the policies that will impact or be impacted by a student-owned, blockchain-based learning records infrastructure? For example, how will this allow us to refine our approach to student privacy, data security, and digital identity?
  • How can education stakeholders develop consensus on a set of open standards and practices that will ensure the flexibility and interoperability of blockchains used for digital credentialing?
  • What principles should we apply to the design and implementation of blockchain-based credentialing systems to ensure social mobility and individual protections, especially for currently disadvantaged populations?

Learning Resources

As part of the Education Blockchain Initiative, the Office of Educational Technology (OET) and the Privacy and Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) have developed a suite of materials to learn more about education blockchains.

For short audio/visual overviews of these topics, please see our Education Blockchains playlist on YouTube.

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