Star Dreadnoughts, The Death Star and Blockchain in Education
I have written about Blockchain's potential in Education in the past and am supportive of the use of Blockchain in Education, especially what the guys at Open Source University are doing. Before I proceed, I would like to point out that I am by no means trying to discourage the use of Blockchain in education. However, in order to see it succeed, there are a few aspects that we need to take seriously.
I have been the main administrator for all things technology in my University. My role as a trainer is to train the people who train teachers to use technology in education. That was a mouthful, I know. Throughout my career, I have seen many different new toys that will revolutionize education. It started with the smartboard, you know the digital whiteboard where you could project videos and write over it using these customized markers, until of course, someone actually writes over it using a real marker. That's 10,000 dollars down the drain. Then came using tablets and now, its the use of virtual reality and games to teach.
I feel that throughout this whole time, we are missing one important point. That is, it is not about the tools but a myriad of other factors. All this reminds me of all the new Star Wars movies. If you watched the recent Star Wars movies. you will find that the bad guys always has a gigantic ship or base that is aimed at wiping out their enemies. That could be in the form of a Death Star or Starkiller base. It could also be in the form of a very very large spaceship like Supreme leader Snoke's Star Dreadnought. All these new toys are new, powerful and relatively good at solving their users' problems.
The one thing that they all have in common is that they work for a short while and they get destroyed by some fairly simple plans. In the event that you have not watched any of the movies from the Star Wars franchise, especially the newer ones. I understand, we parents can't bring our kids to watch lightsaber duels, I feel you. Thus, I will not spoil it for you. That being said, the destruction of these shiny new toys are rather similar to many of the newer technology used to revolutionize education.
Since I really hope that the use of Blockchain in education will succeed, any future projects implementing Blockchain in education should pay attention to a few essential points.
Like all Cryptocurrencies, adoption is essential when it comes to successful implementation. It is important that the right tools be provided to every school and every educator, no matter the cost. I once had a new learning management system distributed to all the schools, only to find out that they had left out the more rural schools. This disparity made it hard to train some teachers in using it. The tools used should be standardized and provided for every teacher be it in the rural or urban area.
Imagine if the big shiny tools of the Empire and the first order were standard issue. Yes, it was not an adoption issue, but it seems as if the weapons that were considered 'standard issue' was far inferior. Take the death star for instance, granted, it was very expensive to produce but imagine having its primary weapon installed on all of the star destroyers. Now, that would make quick work of the enemy, won't it?
Thus, if any project is planning any form new project or tool to solve an education problem, ensuring that everyone adopts it by providing it to everyone involved is important. That is because if this is not done, the competition will find a way, worse, the teachers may even start becoming resistant towards the change. This will make future project implementations or innovations close to impossible.
The second issue is how new tools for learning are implemented. The Empire and The First Order had Star Dreadnoughts, The Death Star, a very large army and some very powerful Sith lords. Yet, they ended up losing. Normally, the better the tool, the higher the chance of success. However, that is not always the case and while there was a flaw in the Death Star's design, the fact that no one noticed it shows poor implementation of the system.
The same goes for implementing any Blockchain based projects in education. The issue is not about the tool, but how a team aims to solve a problem and scale it in a way that it helps a very large group and not just a specific few. Take Open Source University for example, they started by engaging large institutions and are rolling out their Blockchain based education project in stages. While I am excited for them, now is an important time for them to ascertain if the plan to reach the entire education industry is sound.
Another important aspect of implementation does not lie on the plan only, but the implementors as well. This includes the teachers, the administrators and the leaders in charge. If they are trained well and aware of how the use of Blockchain can help them in their work and their students' learning, it is likely that adoption can be achieved fairly quickly. Furthermore, it is also likely that in the long run, the use of Blockchain in education will become common as any barriers that may hinder implementation has been addressed.
My take from the entire Star Wars franchise is that if the Empire or the First order had a better plan or at least better leaders, they would have won the war. Yes, there is the force and the Jedi, but judging from the tools that they have, victory seems to be assured. However, due to how they implemented their tools and poor planning, they lost and lost spectacularly in the process.
I am rooting for all the Blockchain based Education projects, don't be like the Empire or the First order, always take into account adoption and implementation and I am sure the project will do well. I say this not just based on what I know but from my doctorate thesis after interviewing the experts in the field. That being said, I look forward to a future of Education on the Blockchain. I know I will be one of the first few ones adapting the use of Blockchain to my teaching and my institution.