Thursday, November 10, 2016

Blockchain Learning System

In 2013, cyber-security company Mandiant warned of large scale government-sponsored cyber espionage campaigns. Educational institutions have students who are corporate and government employees, as well as military personnel, making them a target for cyber espionage. Cloud based systems are particularly attractive to cyber spies, especially if the server is located in the country doing the spying, so it can be done easily, perhaps even legally.

Sharples, and Domingue (2016) suggest blockchain technology, used for digital currency, could also be used for education. For example, you could prove you completed an assessment task on time, without having to submit the work to a central system. The assessor would check the blockchain certificate to see the work was on time, and add your mark to the blockchain.

Along with m-Learning, this might provide an alternative to large cloud based services for education. The student would be issued with  a digital certificate, and then pointed to where to get the learning resources. The student could use their digital certificate to securely communicate with other students and submit their work for assessment, using on-line resources not provided by the educational institution.

Richards, McGreal and Stewart  (2010) refer to cloud computing supplanting the “cottage industry” of institutions providing their own computing. However, companies such as not only provide cloud computing, they also offer e-publishing and other "vertical" services. It may be that once small institutions have educated students on the benefits of cloud based education, the large cloud providers will take over this market, offering courses themselves. As an alternative, smaller not-for-profit institutions might use digital certificates and other technology to create large virtual academies, which share resources on-line, but can also provide human scale local services.


Mandiant. (2013). APT1 Exposing One of China’s Cyber Espionage Units. Retrieved from

Richards, G., McGreal, R., & Stewart, B. (2010). Cloud computing and adult literacy: How cloud computing can sustain the promise of adult learning. AlphaPlus: Toronto. Retrieved from
Sharples, M., & Domingue, J. (2016, September). The Blockchain and Kudos: A Distributed System for Educational Record, Reputation and Reward. In European Conference on Technology Enhanced Learning (pp. 490-496). Springer International Publishing. Retrieved from

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