Blockchain and Education: Lille Conference Examines The Next Steps

With the upcoming Blockchain and Education Conference in Lille, 28-29 May, organised by the University of Lille and the Commonwealth Centre for Connected Learning, we take a look at why the time is propitious to examine the scope of this enabling technology in the field of education.

Blockchain technology has been around for over a decade now with its proponents and opponents clearly sorted out into rival factions. On the one hand, blockchain proponents have repeatedly aired their support to the potential the technology offers in fashioning large-scale disruption of the status quo across multiple industries; and on the other hand, blockchain opponents have attempted to provide equally strong objections to the purported fallacy promulgated by the former group that blockchain will solve ‘everything’.

No matter which side of the argument you are on, it is safe to say that nobody remains untouched by the effect of the manifold applications of this technology that are actively being researched and in some cases, being piloted and implemented in practice. The field of education is no exception. There is a considerable amount of interest in the usage of blockchain technology from different parts of the world and different sectors across education and its governance that has made it a priority in the field of educational innovation.

The field of education is brimming with issues stemming from different perspectives including those of the educators, the institutions, the policy makers and most importantly, the students. There is a heightened need to acknowledge the significance of concepts like lifelong learning and universally accepted self-sovereign digital identities in the global knowledge economy.

Blockchain-powered Mobility, Freedom, Transparency & Lifelong Learning

To limit a student’s learning on the basis of his/her geographical location is no longer a possibility in the digital world of internet and social media domination. Moreover, employers demand a brand new skill set from students that is centered on adaptability, agility and competency. Consequently, students need to be able to be mobile and have access to a broader range of educational resources, not limited to one university or one educational degree.

In order to facilitate that process, blockchain can be used to create a digital system of credentialing which has the grassroots support of not just students but also the educational institutions that confer credentials. Creating trustworthy digital identities for students could be the first step in reforming a system that has long remained crystalised while the world surrounding it has changed many times over.

The Commonwealth Centre for Connected Learning & Université de Lille Blockchain, Open Education and Digital Citizenship Conference, 28-29 May, examines the enabling potential of blockchain to aid learners and accrediting bodies… Click To Tweet

Blockchain and Education Conference, Lille

In order to understand the implications of using blockchain technology in education, it is essential to hear out all stakeholder beliefs across the sector including those from student leaders, educators, institutions, public bodies, private industries and the global blockchain community. Université de Lille and the Commonwealth Centre for Connected Learning aim to provide a collaborative platform for these voices to be able to discuss the many issues surrounding the use of blockchain technology in facilitating educational processes. The conference on Blockchain, Open Education and Digital Citizenship on 28-29 May, 2019 in Lille, France aims to gather expert opinions on the field and open room for discussion and debate on the future of education in the context of blockchain technology. The conference focuses on key topics like digital citizenship, decentralization of education, sustainability considerations for blockchain and the legal and regulatory framework that needs to be in place for the usage of blockchain technology in education.

The conference acts also a follow-up to the Commonwealth Centre of Connected Learning’s 2018 Conference findings on ‘Blockchain Credentials & Connected Learning‘.

Blockchain Education Conference – Registration

blockchain education Lille ConferenceThe full programme and registration details are on Blockchain Education France. Note that registration is open until 26 April. There are opportunities for stands and pitch presentations.

Cross posted from the ConnectedLearning website

 

DHBW ‘Fachtag’

On February 7, the DHBW Heilbronn hosted the internal symposium under the motto “Digital Transformation”. More than 100 professors and lecturers from the different DHBW campuses could be welcomed at the location who want to network on topics from research and teaching.

Our project partner Florian Rampelt from the Stifterverband, among others, drew a wide arc between the past and the future about digitisation before the visitors set to work themselves in workshops.

Two workshops were held about our projects OEPass and MicroHE: The first workshop on our Learning Passport, which is currently being developed as part of the project, was followed with great interest by 12 participants. Jochen and Raimund from the DHBW and Florian from Stifterverband provided an overview about the OEPass project and gave participants the opportunity to ask questions about the documentation and recognition of micro-credentials via the Learning Passport.

The second workshop focused on micro-credentials within our project MicroHE. The central question of this workshop was to what extent it would be possible to establish small-scale educational qualifications within the structures of the DHBW within the next few years. 26 participants took part in this inspiring discussion.

We would like to thank all participants for their great interest in our projects.

4th MicroHE Consortium meeting in Germany

On the afternoon of 6 February 2019, we concluded an intensive, and highly productive, 2.5-day joint OEPass–MicroHE meeting in Heilbronn, Germany. Our host, DHBW, showed great initiative by proposing an innovative agenda and the unconventional meeting structure proved to be very beneficial.

Just like last time, on the afternoon of our arrival we had an expert meeting to kick off the work. This time our guest was Darco Jansen from EADTU. Darco is the coordinator of the European Short Learning Programmes (e-SLP) project, another Erasmus+ funded project, the partners of which have already conducted surveys about short learning programmes. Their results have great relevance to both projects, particularly MicroHE, that is also foreseeing to undertake surveys and interviews to analyse the current and short-term scope of micro-credential provision and to identify barriers to their accreditation and recognition in Europe. After an exchange of introductions of project goals, plans and our findings so far, we agreed that – in order to maximise the value of our combined efforts and to avoid reinventing the wheel – the MicroHE survey will learn from and build upon the e-SLP findings and also feed back the lessons learned from our own surveys and interviews to e-SLP.

On the first official meeting day, instead of sitting through a series of presentations, we were given time and space to discuss and fine-tune our project outputs in practical workshops. We still have some “homework” to do before we can pronounce the tackled outputs finalised, but we made greater progress during these few hours than for weeks beforehand. Especially since we all had different angles of approaching the same results, the constructive group work could bring all the partners to the same comprehensive understanding of the (multiple) purposes and functionalities of the outputs we are working on.

Both partnerships were invited to each other’s meetings, and although not everybody could stay for all 3 days, Tuesday evening we had both OEPass and MicroHE representatives at DHBW’s premises to participate in the most entertaining part of the programme, the team building cooking activity. We had a truly international menu of 10+ dishes, including simple but amazingly delicious Lithuanian garlic bread, Indian curry, Finish casserole (with a Greek twist), Italian gnocchi made from scratch, German apple strudel and a heavenly Hungarian dessert.

Cross posted from the OEPass website

MicroHE introduced to the MOONLITE community

At the end of October 2018 MicroHE and its sister project, OEPass, were invited to be introduced at the first multiplier event of the MOONLITE project. The recognition that these projects have the potential to make welcome changes to the educational landscape, and make a positive impact on the lives of Europe’s migrants and refugees, was a sign that our dissemination efforts are bearing fruits even in niche circles of HE providers.

The extent and significance of the impact made by OEPass and MicroHE depend on too many factors to predict precisely, but as Higher Education Institutions won’t be able to swim against the technological current for very long, we can be hopeful that maybe this time they will seize the day and lead the way to establishing an open and shared credential infrastructure by opening up their own credential offerings and making efforts to validate and recognise that of others, regardless whether these credentials come from formal or non-formal education. If this will also result in better integration of disadvantaged people, such as migrants and refugees, into our European society, job market and economy, we should be doubly pleased.

The detailed programme and all the presentations – that were all recorded – are now available on the MOONLITE website. Click here to view the presentation on OEPass and MicroHE, or find the slides on Ildiko Mazar’s Slideshare.

Cross posted from the OEPass web site

Guests from Singapore

On the 25th of November a delegation from Singapore visited the Research and Laboratory Department of DHBW Heilbronn, Germany. Together with their president Prof. Graf, OEPass project coordinator Mr. Raimund Hudak, Head of Research, welcomed the employees of SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG), an authority of the Ministry of Education in Singapore. The delegation was informed about, and discussed the objectives of, the ongoing EU sister projects MicroHE and OEPass.

The SSG promotes and coordinates lifelong learning with educational institutions in Singapore to ensure that students and working adults have lifelong access to quality education. As part of the SkillsFuture movement, the SSG has developed a competence framework for key sectors of the economy. This Competence Framework is developed by the government in collaboration with employers, industry associations, trade unions and professional associations for Singapore workers, and it provides up-to-date information on career paths, occupations, professional roles, existing and new skills and relevant training programmes.

The SkillsFuture Singapore team travelled through Germany and met, besides the DHBW Heilbronn, the Institute for Employment Research (IAB), the German Development Institute (DIE), the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (BiBB) and the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).

Based on our mutual interest, we agreed to continue to regularly exchange information on our project developments and to work more closely together on the topic of FutureSkills.

Cross posted from the OEPass web site

3rd MicroHE Consortium meeting in Malta

Since the project started in November 2017 this was the third time the consortium met face to face, and this time it was KIC’s turn to host the partners in Malta.

After an expert workshop held on Monday afternoon with 0xcert CEO, Kristijan Sedlak, and the subsequent consultation with the OEPass partnership, the MicroHE project now has the basis of a tech solution to facilitate portability of micro-credentials. When ready, we will call this instrument the Credential Clearinghouse. If you’re interested at being amongst the first testers of its Beta version, please get in touch. In the meantime you can already participate in the public consultation for a Meta-Data Standard for recording Micro-Credentials on Github.

2nd MicroHE Consortium Meeting

On 23-24 April 2018 we had our second joint MicroHE-OEPass consortium meeting in Budapest, Hungary.

On both days, important questions regarding open and future work packages, quality management and other organizational issues were discussed. By the time of the next joint meeting in Malta in October, the further procedure for the successful handling of the project could be determined.

The evening was comfortably concluded with original Hungarian cuisine.

Thanks to all partners for this productive meeting!