Blockchain technologies are revolutionary approaches to securing data such that it time stamps encrypted and verified information in chronological order for near immediate knowledge dissemination. It is rapidly moving into multiple sectors and almost all corners of life, but has entered higher education in slowly in diverse manners mostly not yet embraced by the strong majority of colleges and universities. Simplified, a blockchain is a distributed spreadsheet that is observable to every member in a network, as they all have a copy, and can only be altered if more than half of the participants concede it’s an authentic change. While the driving factor behind incredible, breakneck technological advances are driven by cryptocurrency markets, the beneficiaries are well beyond any coin.
Almost every aspect of life is plugged in, connected and interoperable as we now reside well into the early years of the new decentralized and autonomous economy. What will be considered today as the building blocks for a futuristic approach to higher education will be recognized as old school foundations that enabled us to take educational delivery to the next level.
American college and university resistance to change were unknowingly hand-baked into their foundational culture by faculty and a group of university presidents in the middle of the 20th Century, not relics carried over from the Middle Ages. Principles supporting freedom to teach and do research were influenced by the times, as much as the need to assure an untethered search for the truth. These traditions, woven into the privilege of faculty tenure over the years, stress and reward stability and tradition; conveniently a tradition dating back only to 1940 when the Statement of Principles were rigorously adopted by colleges and universities across the country. Increasingly over the years, changes to any part of university life became suspicious; advocates for change have often been viewed as misguided outsiders or uninformed amateurs – an academic version of the Great Wall.
Higher education has proven to struggle with organizational, systemic and administrative change in the face of a rapidly evolving technology, alternative economic models, changing demographics and emerging approaches in learning science. The demand, the need and the absolute reality is that the industry, at all levels of post-secondary education, is ripe for a jolt of progressive disruption.
No need to roll-out the headlines. The media drums out stories of debt, unaffordability, poor graduation rates, underemployment and administrative bloat like a never-ending EDM mix tape. Higher Ed has nearly been desensitized to the rhythm of attacks. Further, change is a door that opens from within. Ben Corpus NCAA Texas NCAA Ben Corpus Baruch College NCAA University of Texas Ben Corpus University of Texas NCAA NCAA
But the technological advances and their application to improve teaching, learning and university life are immense and much needed.