Blockchain Goes To School - Cognizant

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Cognizant 20-20 InsightsEducationBlockchain Goes to SchoolEducation leaders need further proof that secure distributed ledger technologyis ready for prime time. But with a wealth of compelling potential applicationsat its disposal, the industry stands to reap significant benefits in terms of costreduction and the student experience as blockchain accelerates into themainstream.Executive SummaryThe education industry is changing before our eyes.No longer solely the province of a centralized learningenvironment in either the physical or virtual worlds,education now occurs via peer-to-peer interactions,online and from anywhere on the planet. Educationalproviders, particularly in higher-ed, are struggling toharness digital technology as a tool for transformation.Blockchain technologies present enormousopportunities to help higher education providers:March 2019 Reduce costs and eliminate fraud by avoiding manualverification of transcripts and other documents. Increase innovation by providing a platform forcollaboration between business and educationalinstitutions, as well as other possibilities. Boost efficiencies via “smart contracts” that executeautomatically when certain conditions are met.

Cognizant 20-20 InsightsPotential applications of blockchain in educationinclude: Storage of permanent records. Learner identity verification and informationsecurity. Student ownership of lifelong learningcredentials. Automatic credit transfers. Intellectual property protection for educationalcontent.These are very early days for the use of blockchainin education, and few institutions are ready to investheavily in the technology. However, the potential2/benefits are convincing for a resource-constrainedindustry concerned about competition fromnontraditional players. As a result, educationalinstitutions are working to better understand thetechnology and are conducting pilot projects totarget the best use cases and most likely benefits.Once the industry begins to move, with morealliances being formed and standards beingdefined, adoption could be rapid. Blockchainplatforms are characterized by a strong networkeffect, meaning that the value of the platformgrows with each additional user and/or companyparticipant. Educational providers should getinvolved now to be ready when blockchain reachesthe mainstream.Blockchain Goes to School

Cognizant 20-20 InsightsThe Education Sector: Grappling with DisruptionAs an industry, higher education has enjoyed along period of stability and steady profits. That idyllcame to a crashing end with the advent of digitaltechnologies, such as social, mobile, analytics, thecloud, artificial intelligence and the Internet ofThings. Higher education is buffeted by disruptiveforces, and chief among them is online learning.Economic necessity has been a major driver forstudents becoming more open to and trustingof new ways of accessing learning. Increasedparticipation in the sharing economy has also servedto engender consumer trust in the peer-to-peermodel. The degree of peer-to-peer collaborationin education is evolving at a rapid rate, creating newsharing models and business opportunities.1 The riseof massive open online courses (MOOCs) presentsthe very real prospect that more students will electno-cost education options.2At the same time, the education sector must alsocope with a heavy regulatory burden. Seeminglystraightforward tasks like sharing a school transcriptcurrently requires an inordinate amount of timeand money compared with similar transactionsin the digital world. This creates an expectationgap, as consumers are accustomed to having theirneeds met quickly and with personalized attention.Institutions of higher learning are struggling tokeep pace with all these changes.Further, most educational institutions follow amodel in which each maintains control of its studentrecords and credentials. Since each organizationcontrols its own data, it can be altered or deleted,and there is no fail-safe or redress should the databecome corrupted. Institutions can prevent or setconditions on data access at their whim, or data canbe used and shared in an unauthorized manner.This model also places data at risk of being alteredor destroyed during global events such as war,or due to natural catastrophes such as floodsor earthquakes. The war in Syria, for example,destroyed credential records across the country,further adding to the widespread chaos.3The need to share data in a secure and frictionlessmanner will only increase as students increasinglypursue more mobile learning styles and studyingabroad.4 Institutions that hope to attract studentsfrom across the globe need to bring their systems andprocesses in line with modern student expectations.Blockchain’s distributed ledger technology can playan important role in meeting all of these challenges.Its decentralized architecture offers the benefitsof enhanced privacy and security through publickey infrastructure (PKI) encryption, anonymity,longevity, integrity, transparency and immutability.Already, the technology has progressed steadily inindustries such as financial services and insurance.IDC estimates that global blockchain spendingwill reach 2.1 billion in 2018.5 Leading adopters inthese industries are moving from proofs of conceptto full blockchain deployments.With its ability to dramatically reduce data management costs by eliminating many manual processes,including credential verification, blockchain canenable needed changes in the business, operating andtechnology models of higher education.With its ability to dramatically reduce data management costsby eliminating many manual processes, including credentialverification, blockchain can enable needed changes in the business,operating and technology models of higher education.3/ Blockchain Goes To School

Cognizant 20-20 InsightsThe Blockchain OpportunityGiven that blockchain is an emerging technology,education leaders, similar to executives inother industries, are seeking additional proof ofblockchain’s mainstream application (beyondcryptocurrency).6 Many are wary of investingprecious resources on a still maturing technology.But there are risks to sitting on the sidelines toolong. Organizations that start now to understandthe technology and the value it can deliver viaprecise use cases (see next section) will be properlypositioned to reap its operational benefits.As history has shown, “first-mover” status isadvantageous, with the lines between gianttechnology players such as Amazon, Googleand Facebook and their more traditional rivalsincreasingly disappearing. Already, Google haslaunched Google Apps for Education (GAFE),a free, cloud-based productivity suite with toolscomparable to the Microsoft Office suite. This4/offering is enticing for schools as it results insignificant cost savings in both licensing andserver maintenance expenses. GAFE has grown toover 30 million users worldwide, according to thecompany, and has become an industry standardfor collaborative cloud applications, disrupting theposition of traditional vendors offering learningmanagement systems (LMS).7Amazon is another case in point. Its textbook rentalmodel is presumably cutting into traditional textbookpublishers’ revenues. And though still in beta format,its AmazonInspire marketplace for self-publishing,curation and delivery of educational content willcompete with MOOCs and traditional publishers.Rather than waiting to see how technology giantswill shake things up, institutions of higher educationcan benefit from advancements in educationaltechnology, including blockchain.Blockchain Goes to School

Cognizant 20-20 InsightsQuick TakeBlockchain: How It WorksBlockchain serves as a platform for achieving and maintaining integrity in distributed peerto-peer systems, obviating the need for a central authority or clearinghouse. Here’s how itworks at a high level: Each user maintains his or her own information, including transactions, contracts,certifications, credentials, assets and identities, as well as anything else that can berecorded in digital form. Because entries are permanent, transparent and secure, community members canview transaction histories in their entirety. Each update is a new “block” added to the end of a “chain.” A blockchain protocolmanages how new entries are initiated, validated, recorded and distributed. Cryptology replaces third-party intermediaries as the keeper of trust, with allblockchain participants running consensus algorithms to certify the integrity ofthe whole.(To learn more, read our ebook “Demystifying Blockchain.”8 )5/Blockchain Goes to School

Cognizant 20-20 InsightsBlockchain Use Cases in EducationThere are many potential use cases for blockchainin education:verified, regardless of whether or not a userhas access to an institution’s record-keepingsystem (see Figure 1). Even if the institutionthat issued the certificates were to close, or ifthe entire education system collapsed, thosecertificates would still be verifiable against therecords stored in a blockchain. In addition,once institutions issue a certificate, no furtherefforts are required to confirm the validity of thatcertificate to third parties, since the certificatecan verify itself directly on the blockchain. Storing student credentials. Most highereducation institutions keep students’ completedcourse records in proprietary formats. Thesedatabases are structured for exclusive accessby an institution’s staff and in dedicated onlinesystems, with little or no interoperability.Further, the majority of institutions have theirown specialized system for keeping students’completed course records, which preserves theproprietary data structure of the database.For example, the MIT Digital Certificatesproject offers an open-source ecosystem forcreating, sharing and verifying blockchain-basededucational certificates. Digital certificatesIn contrast, blockchain records are storedpermanently, so documents such as degreesand course certificates can be secured andStudent Credentialing through BlockchaintsecjroPCompletion status,degree maps, gradesDIGITALPeer rating, score,creditsAuthentic, tamperproof, and legallyvalid unified view ofstudent ssmScores, credits,learning graphsenKnowledge iewdigitaldocumentsstudentsapplyingforadmission /job sharedwith themby thestudentsEmployersFigure 1Blockchain records are stored permanently, so documents suchas degrees and course certificates can be secured and verified,regardless of whether or not a user has access to an institution’srecord-keeping system.6/Blockchain Goes to School

Cognizant 20-20 Insightsare registered on the Bitcoin blockchain,cryptographically signed and tamper-proof.9 Identity verification is another perennial problemfor educational institutions, requiring much manualintervention and presenting many opportunities fordata tampering. With a digital process, validationof a student’s identity happens once. Ratherthan storing the student identity document, theblockchain network stores information aboutthat document. Using blockchain, students andjob candidates can identify themselves onlinewhile maintaining control over the storage andmanagement of their personal data.Within larger institutions, students need toregularly identify themselves to different parts ofthe organization. In such cases, either each part ofthe institution collects the student data for itself,or the organization uses single sign-on, wherebyone shared copy of the student data is used by allparties within the organization.Under both of these models, tens if not hundredsof people might have access to a student’s personalinformation. Keeping that data safe requiresmanaging access rights for all those people,and ensuring their devices are also secured – amammoth, if not impossible, undertaking.With blockchain, only a select few – namely theparties responsible for verifying a student’s identity –have access to the data (see Figure 2). Other thanthat, it’s in the student’s hands. This means that theorganization no longer needs to manageEnsuring Digital Identity through Blockchain01Trust dardsDevelopingstandards togovern systemoperationacross variousstudent/stakeholderSingleStudent AttributeAuthenticationCapturingand storingstudentattributesProvidingmechanisms forlinking studentsto uteAuthorizationIdentity DeliveryProvidingmechanisms forexchangingattributes betweenvarious stakeholders in theProvisioningthe servicesstudents/stakeholders areentitled to accessbased on theirattributesProvidingefficient, effectiveand seamlessservices tostudents andotherstakeholdersExchangeecosystemFigure 2Rather than storing the student identity document, the blockchainnetwork stores information about that document.7/ Blockchain Goes to School

Cognizant 20-20 Insightsthe complex systems for access rights, and onlyneeds to secure the device or network wherethe initial verification takes place. This removesthe need for significant investment in hardeningthe network against data breaches, staff trainingon data protection and managing access rights. Intellectual property protection. Professorsregularly publish research and papers as part oftheir work. Under the traditional system, thereis little way to know if a similar academic studyis under way when a professor begins his or herresearch. In addition, there is much piracy ofthe research itself. The use of blockchain helpsaddress these problems.Blockchain could allow educators to publishcontent openly while keeping track of reuse,without putting limitations on the source material(see Figure 3). Such a system would allowteachers to be rewarded based on the level ofactual use and reuse of their teaching materials,similar to how they are rewarded based on thenumber of citations to their research papers.Students and institutions could then makemetrics-based decisions on which teachingmaterials to use. Teachers could announcethe publication of their resources and link tothem, as well as the other resources they usedin creating the material. Crypto-coins could beawarded to educators according to the levelof reuse of their respective resources. In anopen scenario, coins would not be spendablebut would rather be used to determine theauthor’s prominence. In a closed scenario, coinswould have monetary value and would result inmonetary compensation.A more advanced implementation mightautomatically scan resources to identify thepercentage of other resources that werereused and automatically issue awards. Forexample, a “smart” (or self-executing) contractcould distribute payment to authors basedon how often their material is cited or used.Authors would no longer have to go throughintermediaries such as research journals, whichoften limit use by charging high access fees.Protecting IP through nuous UpdateContinuousUpdateJournal ess LayerFigure 3/Block IDMappingAccess LayerResearcher8ReportingAuthor HistoryBlockchain Goes to SchoolContentDelivery

Cognizant 20-20 Insights Micro-credentialing and ownership oflearning credentials. Blockchain could providea more durable and flexible system for storingstudent credentials as they move from course tocourse throughout their professional careers, aswell as their secondary education (see Figure 4).Via blockchain, credentials cannot be modified,providing a more reliable system of storingcredentials for a lifetime of learning.With blockchain, learners could store their ownevidence of formal or informal learning, shareit with a desired audience, and ensure instantverification. This means students could have aself-updating curriculum vitae that can easily beshared with employers. Employers, meanwhile,could reduce their workload since they wouldnot have to verify CVs and could simply search tosee whether candidates have the skills required.Blockchain allows personal data to stay personal tothe learner. Students gain control and ownershipof all their education data, including accreditationand portfolios of work, in a secure place that isaccessible to anyone who needs to verify it. Publicblockchains facilitate self-sovereignty by makingindividuals the final arbiter of who can access anduse their data and personal information. Transfer of credits has been another perennialchallenge for institutions, often leavingstudents at a disadvantage when they find,for example, that they must repeat courses tofulfill a new institution’s requirements. Studentsalso experience difficulties transferring toanother higher education institution, while stillpreserving and proving courses completed at aprevious institution. This problem is even morevivid in cases when a student wants to transferto an institution in another country, wherelanguage and disparate processes are likely topose additional barriers. Moreover, standardsfor record storage vary, which can make interinstitutional record exchange difficult.Within an educational context, the term is onits way to becoming synonymous with theempowerment of individual learners to own,manage and share details of their credentials,without the need to call upon the educationalinstitution as a trusted intermediary. This will beincreasingly important as the industry continuesits move toward skills-based education.Ensuring Durability, Flexibility with Micro-CredentialingISSUER(School)2Recipient acceptsinvitation,sending issuerthier uer hashescredentialon theblockchain.B L O C K C H A I N1Issuer invitesrecipient toreceive ablockchaincredential.RECIPIENT(Student)4Issuer sendsrecipient ablockchaincredential.Figure 49/Blockchain Goes to SchoolRECIPIENT(Student)5Recipient sendscredential toblockchain verifier(employer).VERIFIER(Employer)6Verifier checksthe blockchainto verify thecertificate.

Cognizant 20-20 InsightsCurrently, credit transfers depend oninstitutions negotiating agreements torecognize each other’s credits subject tocertain conditions, but students report theseagreements are often not recognized. With ablockchain approach, these agreements couldbe written as blockchain-based smart contracts,whereby the credits would automatically betransferred upon fulfillment of the conditions ofthe contract.Challenges to Blockchain Adoption in EducationAs a nascent technology, blockchain adoptionpresents numerous challenges. Blockchainrequires wide-ranging business process change,with the technological component being only asmall part of its implementation. For blockchainto make a significant impact on the educationspace, grassroots-level change is required, as wellas collaboration from all the stakeholders acrossborders. (To learn how this is being tackled in otherindustries, visit the Blockchain Primary Researchsection of our website.)Governmental bodies will play a critical role increating and overseeing blockchain regulations,as well as building the infrastructure needed topropagate blockchain use. This activity has alreadybegun. Recently, the European Commission setaside 300 million to be invested in the Europeanblockchain space as part of the E.U.’s strategy to“harness the many opportunities of blockchainand avoid a fragmented approach.”10 Such publicinvestments in blockchain infrastructure arenecessary to spur and ease its adoption. Moreover,regions outside North America and Europe areleading the way in sweeping away regulatory hurdlessurrounding blockchain – particularly Australia,Singapore and others in the Asia/Pacific region. 11For blockchain to make a significant impact on the education space,grassroots-level change is required, as well as collaboration from allthe stakeholders across borders.10 / Blockchain Goes to School

Cognizant 20-20 InsightsThere are, however, a host of distinct issues thatawait resolution, including the development of datastandards, the high cost of storage and processing,the location of data storage, and how to filter,analyze and securely share data.Standards are a particularly thorny issue forblockchain in education. Each institution has itsown way to store and manage student data. Asblockchain adoption increases, new standardsare being defined every day, with the potential forchaos. Standards bodies such as IMS Global, W3Cand IEEE are potential catalysts for such activity.Standards to be developed include an educationindustry taxonomy, metadata, data privacy,accessibility, geo-specific data storage policies (asapplicable in Europe), data-exchange frameworksfor credits, qualifications, skills, what data can bemade transparent to others vs. what needs to behidden, data-access governance and rules, etc.11/Another notable issue is the transition of datastorage. While the new records will be availableon blockchain, what happens to the existingdata? How do institutions bring all of their legacydata onto newer systems or make it accessiblethrough new networks (and ensure compliancewith standards as they take hold)? Another openquestion is whether and to what degree institutionswill recognize and accept the need to releasecontrol of the data.Organizational change management andgovernance also loom large. Overcominggovernance challenges will require a concertedeffort to ensure that the standards for digitalcredentialing systems are open and that theytake into account the needs of all involved —learners, educational institutions, employers andgovernments.Blockchain Goes to School

Cognizant 20-20 InsightsGet Ready for BlockchainBlockchain’s learning curve is steep. Implementationraises significant technological, operating andbusiness model issues, as well as the need to ensurecollaboration and the availability of knowledge andresources to experiment with and deploy distributedledger technology.However, with such compelling use cases, it’sinevitable that current adoption rates will onlyincrease. Here are three actions educationalinstitutions can take in the short term to beginpreparing for blockchain: Promote understanding. There’s a pressing needto communicate blockchain’s complexities in aclear and comprehensible manner that resonateswith target stakeholders. Domain experts,specialist researchers, academics and industryleaders have an important role to play here. Experiment. Blockchain applications foreducation are picking up steam. However,educational organizations need evidence toprove that blockchain offers significant value,either to themselves or to their students.Understanding the potential of blockchainwithout these examples is just theory. There’scurrently a big push in the industry to conductpilots to obtain a fine-grained understanding ofwhere the true potential lies. Be part of the movement. Blockchain cannotbe ignored. It’s set to overturn the educationsector and will have a profound impact on currentplayers in this market, so it’s important to be partof this innovation process. This is a time of greatopportunity for those who act decisively andassertively. The development of the technologyneeds to be considered a shared competence inthe education market, to ensure an appropriatebalance of private sector innovation, along withsafeguarding the public interest.Looking AheadBlockchain is positioned to reinvent the educationsector. It is vital for leading lights to begin now tounderstand and experiment with the technology,both individually and as part of a consortium.While few institutions are ready to invest heavily in12 /blockchain, kicking off the discussion internally andwith colleagues across academia will enable themto be prepared once opportunities emerge, withthe scale and significance to deliver both gamechanging business value and learning experiences.Blockchain Goes to School

Cognizant 20-20 InsightsQuick TakeChecklist: When to Use a BlockchainA key success driver for successful blockchain adoption is identifying a relevant use case. Thefollowing elements must be present before moving ahead with blockchain experimentation: A database formatted as a ledger (i.e., a list of time-stamped transactions listing what wastransacted, from whom and to whom). Multiple writers (i.e., different individuals, usually in different physical locations, need towrite to the database). Transacting in the absence of trust (i.e., each of the writers to the database would not bewilling to allow anyone else to edit their entries). Disintermediation (i.e., the various writers don’t wish to grant control of the database to acentralized authority for management). Transaction interaction (i.e., there is some interdependency between the transactions). A clear set of rules (i.e., transactions are only allowed if they meet precise conditions,which can be independently and automatically verified). A store of value (i.e., entries on a blockchain should represent assets or records that havereal-world value).Blockchain Decision Path1. Need for a shared common database?1YES2. Multiple parties involved?2YES3. Parties involved have conflicting incentives and/or are not trusted?3YES4. Rules governing participants are not uniform?4YES5. Need for an objective, mutable log?5NOBLOCKCHAIN ISNOT REQUIREDYES6. Rules of transactions do not change frequently?6YES7. Are transactions public?7YESSource: 78413 /Blockchain Goes to SchoolPUBLICBLOCKCHAINNOPERMISSIONEDBLOCKCHAIN

Cognizant 20-20 InsightsEndnotes1For more information, see the Turn to Your Neighbor blog: Open Online Courses website: Smolenski, “Blockchain Records for Refugees,” Learning Machine, June 12, 2017, -records-for-refugees-bd27ad6e6da1.4“Trends in U.S. Study Abroad,” NAFSA, and Advocacy/Policy Resources/Policy Trends and Data/Trends in U S Study Abroad/.5Anirban Ghoshal, “Global Spending on Blockchain Solutions to Reach 2.1 Billion in 2018: IDC Report,” VC Circle, Jan. 25,2018, .6Carla Rudder, “Five Blockchain Statistics: CIO Reality Check,” The Enterprisers Project, Feb. 1, 2018, lockchain-statistics-cio-reality-check.7Catlin R. Tucker, Tiffany Wycoff and Jason Green, Blended Learning in Action: A Practical Guide toward SustainableChange, Corwin, 2016, ctical-Sustainable/dp/1506341160.8“Demystifying Blockchain,” Cognizant Technology Solutions, Jan. 18, 2017, g-blockchain.9Digital Certificates Project website: Todorov, “European Commission to Invest 300 Million in Developing Domestic Blockchain Ecosystem,” RazorForex, April 10, 2018, sion-to-invest-300.html.11“The Future of Blockchain in Asia Pacific,” Cognizant Technology Solutions, December 2017, f-blockchain-in-asia-pacific-codex3240.pdf.14 /Blockchain Goes to School

Cognizant 20-20 InsightsAbout the authorAlok Kumar JainDirector of Digital Solutions, Innovation & Domain Consulting, Cognizant’s Education PracticeAlok Kumar Jain is a Director of Digital Solutions, Innovation & Domain Consulting within Cognizant’sEducation Practice. He has over 23 years of experience as a technical and domain consultant, workingwith leading education and media companies. His areas of expertise include creating digital strategy forthe education, publishing, advertising and broadcast companies. He leads the practice’s work developingsolutions focused on blockchain, AR/VR, conversational AI, mobility and innovation. Alok can be reachedat [email protected] LinkedIn: /Blockchain Goes to School

About Cognizant’s Education PracticeCognizant’s Education Practice is a leader in partnering with education institutions and companies to deliver end-to-end technology innovation at scale.We help bridge talent demand with talent supply to deliver the skills and competencies learners need to succeed in the modern enterprise. Our deepeducation industry experience, combined with strengths in strategy, implementation, operations, content and digital marketing services, help improveinstitutional efficacy, enhance student experience and drive student success. Visit us online at CognizantCognizant (Nasdaq-100: CTSH) is one of the world’s leading professional services companies, transforming clients’ business, operating and technologymodels for the digital era. Our unique industry-based, consultative approach helps clients envision, build and run more innovative and efficient businesses. Headquartered in the U.S., Cognizant is ranked 195 on the Fortune 500 and is consistently listed among the most admired companies in the world.Learn how Cognizant helps clients lead with digital at or follow us @Cognizant.World HeadquartersEuropean HeadquartersIndia Operations Headquarters500 Frank W. Burr Blvd.Teaneck, NJ 07666 USAPhone: 1 201 801 0233Fax: 1 201 801 0243Toll Free: 1 888 937 32771 Kingdom StreetPaddington CentralLondon W2 6BD EnglandPhone: 44 (0) 20 7297 7600Fax: 44 (0) 20 7121 0102#5/535 Old Mahabalipuram RoadOkkiyam Pettai, ThoraipakkamChennai, 600 096 IndiaPhone: 91 (0) 44 4209 6000Fax: 91 (0) 44 4209 6060 Copyright 2019, Cognizant. All rights reserved. No part of this d

grows with each additional user and/or company participant. Educational providers should get involved now to be ready when blockchain reaches the mainstream. Cognizant 20-20 Insights 2 / Blockchain Goes to School. Cognizant 20-20 Insights 3 / Blockchain Goes To School The Education Sec