Blockchain and DLT: Building a Path for Distributed Education Data Experiences

Data is quickly becoming the most valuable resource on Earth. Research in big data analytics has allowed tech companies to monetize social activity online so they can offer great apps and services for free. However, schools and universities can use the data that they generate for an entirely different purpose: to provide the best possible educational experience.

Modern students, those growing up in a connected and digitally fluent society, expect learning technologies to give them the freedom to learn in their own style. The team here at Lingk is excited to develop solutions that empower students to have more agency in their learning path. By integrating data across many systems, including distributed ledger technologies, we can help educational institutions better understand and engage with their students.

Distributed Ledger Technology

Distributed ledger technology (DLT) is a growing field of software that allows data to be securely distributed and verified. The most famous distributed ledger is the Bitcoin blockchain, but there are many others (Ethereum, Hyperledger, IOTA, Hashgraph, etc.) that are not simply focused on monetary transactions. Blockchain and DLT are perfect for educational use cases because it helps establish secure and verifiable relationships between students and institutions. Sensitive data such as academic credits can be securely shared between the parties involved in a learning event, without any red tape or waiting.

With the growth of e-learning and other alternative modes of education, tightly integrated data platforms are increasingly essential so schools can understand their students and encourage them to succeed. At Lingk, we believe that blockchain and DLT have the potential to enable educational institutions to develop into thriving communities of learners and teachers.

Integration and interoperability

Publishing educational data to an immutable, distributed ledger can ensure the integrity of students’ learning path by supplying proof that the data was created at a certain time and no one has tampered with it. This is essential for allowing different institutions to establish a common framework for student achievement data, without sacrificing security.

At Lingk we are very excited about a distributed ledger called IOTA. Because IOTA supports data transactions without any fees or “mining,” it can operate at the scale that modern institutions of learning require. IOTA’s cryptographic features can give both students and institutions the ability to create encrypted data streams, and the power to grant and revoke access these streams. This will allow students to take their learning data with them on their educational path and open up new opportunities for cooperative programs and e-learning.

Collecting data from many disparate sources and making sense of it is not an easy task. Using the IOTA protocol, institutions can also create private or collaborative data lakes, in order to better understand student populations. We are very excited about integrating distributed ledgers with analytics software so that advisors, recruiters, and professors can better empower students to achieve their goals.

Openness in education

Educational institutions around the world have a rich history of collaborating with other public and private organizations in order to create ideal environments for learning, experimentation, and the formation of new knowledge. As education goes online and becomes more open, many universities and academic journals have begun adopting less centralized ways of doing business.

The increasing importance of digital innovation has prompted universities to seek out new solutions for engaging with their students, and researchers to find better ways to engage with their academic peers. Distributed ledgers can be utilized to secure learning materials and academic publications in an open and fair marketplace. Students can have more agency over their academic journey, and researchers can be sure that their intellectual property is easily verifiable and tamper-proof.

One of the most promising use cases for blockchain and DLT is the creation of distributed identity and credential management systems. Universities need to maintain many permission systems for students and staff, from accessing grades online to buying lunch at the dining hall. By hosting data on the IOTA network, universities can ensure the security and integrity of access to online data.

Educational institutions can also combine distributed ledgers with on-campus Internet-of-Things solutions to manage issues like facility and equipment access or wireless network permissions. IOTA is also a cryptographic currency; therefore, it can even be implemented as a fee-free “campus cash” system. The many innovations that blockchain and DLT enable can help universities lead the way into the emerging open-source and sharing economy.

Blockchain and DLT big data analytics

With all these transactions being written on blockchains and distributed ledgers, an upcoming critical path need will be both enterprise and individual views of data that merge context from other systems (data lakes, CRM, and relational databases) into data experiences. These data experiences will expose themselves to users in the form of reports, dashboards, and 360-degree views.

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The historical data stored in blockchain and distributed ledger technology is a valuable source of data for predictive analytics driven by machine learning. Since the historical data (sometimes with multiple signatures) is stored in a rich graph, data experiences can be enhanced to better inform users of their next actions. 

Bringing it all together

At Lingk, we are building distributed data integration solutions that enable universities to provide the best possible educational experience for their students. These solutions, powered by Lingk DX, can help you carve your own path in the fast-moving world of blockchain and DLT while providing you the tools you need to build administrative and individual data experiences.