Resisting the Permanent Record: Blockchain Technology in Education
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The blockchain-- famous for its use as the underlying database for bitcoin--has been posed as a solution for everything from secure banking to supply chain management to, now, online education. Game designer Jane McGonigal’s education project--Learning is Earning 2026--proposes a concept where education is accumulated on a ledger. Enabled by the blockchain, this educational model would host a complete record of everything you’ve ever learned, everyone you’ve learned from, and everyone who’s learned from you. But while the blockchain is increasingly heralded as a catch-all solution for security via decentralization, it does not garner enough scrutiny as it should. When it comes to education, what are some of the benefits and limitations of remembering “everything”? Could the forward-thinking problems that proponents suggest blockchain would solve only begin to create larger issues? One such issue might be a complete overhaul of FERPA legislation, which already neglects to address systems of technology that store records. Conceptual arguments about the use of blockchain technology in education should address these larger questions concerning privacy, authority, expertise, and ethics.