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Title: Blockchain technologies for the validation, verification, authentication and storing of students' data
Authors: Pfeiffer, Alexander
Bezzina, Stephen
Wernbacher, Thomas
Kriglstein, Simone
Keywords: Artificial intelligence
Computer-assisted instruction
Blockchains (Databases)
Distance education
Issue Date: 2020
Publisher: ECEL
Citation: Pfeiffer, A., Bezzina, S., Wernbacher, T., & Kriglstein, S. (2020). Blockchain technologies for the validation, verification, authentication and storing of students' data. 19th European Conference on e-Learning ECEL 2020. 421-427.
Abstract: The rapid changes brought about by digital technologies in education offer rich, personalised and differentiated modes of e-learning. However, the anytime, anywhere access to teaching, learning and assessment material requires a paradigm shift in the conceptualisation and implementation of validation, verification, authentication and storing of students’ data. This is especially relevant for accredited or certified programmes such as online bachelor or master degree courses, which quite often carry a substantial cost and relatively high time-consumption in terms of the recording and verification of students’ learning credentials. Blockchain technologies offer an interesting and innovative approach for securing sensitive information in online educational environments. One of its main impetus is the ability, or rather the nonability of retrospectively altering data which is stored on the blockchain. This indelible and unalterable nature of blockchain technologies allow for greater safeguarding when compared to conventional password-protected directories, from both within and outside the organisational e-learning environment. Furthermore, the open nature of public blockchains, supports decentralised data verification, hence independent of any central authority and consequently valid across different programmes, departments, institutions and countries. This also extends beyond traditional formal learning institutions, such as non-formal or informal education, but more importantly, it offers an easy and inexpensive way for businesses and job providers to safely and securely verify prospective employees’ credentials. The aim of this paper is to critically evaluate the role of blockchain technologies in e-learning, by discussing the challenges, prospects and implications of implementation of this new technology to prevent identity fraud in online (as well as traditional) learning contexts and securely and irrevocably store students’ data. This includes issues relating to students' records, transcripts, identity and badges, but also the provision of infrastructure security and smart contracts in online learning environments.
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