To say there has been over excitement surrounding blockchain's potential applications is to grossly understate reality
From beverage companies incorporating the name thereby raising stock prices across to almost daily bombardment of hollow ICO shells touting unjustifiable businesses, often mythical powers are bestowed on distributed ledger technologies
Today we were struck by an info-graphic which has even been republished by other sites such as TechRepublic. In our humble efforts to possibly add a logical [albeit consciously subjective] interpretation, most every sentence of the publication deserves our reasoned attention
"From student debt to life-altering circumstances, access to education is growing increasingly difficult"
No it is not. To believe this would be to invalidate the attempted argument. Secondly student debt is acquired following access to higher education. And life-altering circumstances are just that whether or not one is online or in a classroom
"American students... rising costs, decline in degree completion and privatization of schools can lead to discrimination in both high cost and admissions"
The statistic that 37% of American adults between 18 and 29 years old carry a student loan necessitates that these individuals have tangibly experienced college, university and or higher education of some kind [as may be included in their measurement]. It is untenable to propose that an equivalent experience may be purely digitized
Differently interpreted, propositions that current educational institutions are too expensive would be better posed to economists and politicians. Market worth is calculated in accordance with what someone will pay. If the market will not absorb the asking price then it will not be purchased. Debt in this case exists because a price was agreed to yet the purchaser's means of payment were insufficient at said time
Student loans are partly available because of a perceived enhancement bestowed on the debtor, as derived from their pending education. Repayment capacities theoretically increase with educational participation
This forms some type of value-add. While apparently some 29% of students attend part time with less than 50% in the United States completing their degrees in six years is deplorable, it does not change the facts. Price was mutually agreed to
$13,524 USD annual tuition for a private high school in America is to many a staggering amount. Luckily, it is also voluntary. What percentage of income or net-worth this tuition represents for parent/s sending their children to such schools demanding equivalent fees is conveniently omitted
"Refugees and displaced persons around the world... one in seven lack records to prove their identity with a 15% drop of 18-24 year old Syrians in higher education participation following the war"
For those lucky enough to have never been in a war zone nor close to such atrocities, the realities faced may never be understood. To trivialize truly horrendous trauma with discussions of blockchain is a disservice to decency. Quantification of people's activities following such events must be humanely tempered, holistic in approach and above all compassionate
Not least of which participation in higher education is surely a far less immediate concern than survival. A consideration of priorities in the face of life-altering circumstances is necessary when attempting to derive conclusions from isolated metrics
As an aside perhaps a decentralized, immutably transparent recording of government activities would offer more genuinely positive lasting influence. Then immediately below the info-graphic breaks to declare:
"Luckily for students, blockchain might just give students a better chance to access quality education"
Apart from a lack of creativity in the sentence's double use of the student title, its claim is illogical
Blockchains are distributed ledgers. They permit higher levels of secure recording for digital transactions. Blockchains do not provide an enhancement in quality of the content or data recorded therein, place Internet-access devices in the hands of those without nor promise to sufficiently account for any number of student's individual optimal learning styles
Internet and therefore educational access in this case remains identical to the levels preceding blockchain popularization. Following blockchain these may simply be comparatively more securely recorded
"Ways blockchain changes education... massive open online courses (MOOCS) fueled by cryptocurrency... content sharing and token issuance for contributors... global learning community"
MOOCS may be a valuable undertaking. There is every reason to utilize global technologies allowing the free exchange and structuring of education/al data. In different forms this undertaking has been in practice for many years. In order to contribute to Wikipedia one still needs to have Internet access
To complete an online Open University course one still has to be sufficiently amenable to that particular style of learning as opposed to attending more traditional local/ized institutions. Furthermore it is prudent to acknowledge that traditional education institutions are also cultural learning centers
The physical isolation and true almost private individualism of digital course structures as proposed within purely online educational undertakings forgoes in-person social and cultural participation. In and of itself some may hold this in-person socialization or exposure imparting lasting beneficial influence
Removing concerns around a student's lack of opportunities for networking, group introductions, work placements and other social verification possibly derived from in-person exchange, fundamentally digital participation may not inherently be equally comparable to any number of long established real world activities
Throughout numerous industries Internet technologies have become nearly ubiquitous. Yet even when exponentially expanding on all aforementioned traditional educational institution's existing shortfalls and costs it is a reality decades after the Internet's popularization, demand for traditional educational institutions still prevails. To propose that a more securely recorded variation of an existing offering necessarily entices those with no preexisting interest in such is impressively unthinking
How the info-graphic suggests these online courses are paid for is another concern. Cryptocurrency clearly offers an exciting new method of decentralized payment exchange
Due to staggered trust adoption in the face of a plethora of bureaucratic and environmental forces it has yet however to fully realize its disruptive potential. To the broadest measure of potential users, when compared to fiat the implementation of, access to and exchange of cryptocurrency entails more significant barriers to entry
Today ownership and use of cryptocurrency is a secondary payment method. It involves more steps or at least non-mainstream supported activities for acquisition than does fiat
Anecdotally this is evidenced in say someone trying to convert Bitcoin at a local bank branch or receive a salary through Monero. Anonymity and private ownership of cryptocurrency is here too in opposition to the 'block-chained certification or proof' claimed as enhanced benefits to educational courses
To suggest that fiat transfers to higher education institutions may somehow presently be restricted is to invalidate all issues of tuition costs and student debts raised throughout. It is likewise nonsensical to suggest that a potentially resource scarce demographic increases advantage by utilizing harder to obtain, marginalized methods of payment exchange
With cryptocurrency or fiat, intrinsic worth derives from the collective assignment of value. I cannot write "five million" on a napkin and buy a house under the auspices that the bearer may somehow take this napkin to the bank. The seller might believe it represents a value yet it is unlikely that a financial institution will concur
Likewise a cryptocurrency-token given to a contributor, not a currency on an exchange, is only as powerful as the issuing ecosystem. Let us imagine that due to my veracious, extended contributions I become a multi-billion coin holder in MIT's OpenCourseWare tokens. Where do I use these in the real world?
Should reference here be purely to guaranteed remuneration from other ecosystem users subsequent access to my registered uploads, the token's value is once more set to the size or force of the ecosystem. In this case a billion tokens could translate to any theoretical amount including zero. There is no guaranteed measure of ecosystem consumption. Today a far more lucrative proposition would be working in a traditional educational institution. At least proven demand and tuition seem sufficiently high so as to guarantee compensation for contribution/s
There is an undeniable, utopian appeal of an established "global learning community". Structures for 'students to gain access to courses outside their classrooms' is something every rational individual and or educational proponent should also support. However reaching another classroom dictates that the student is already in one classroom. With this simple point, subsequent errors in suggested logic are more than easily envisioned
"The future of learning is on the blockchain and in your hands"
For those select few with sufficient financial means, in areas of the world offering appropriately available stable resources, whom also wish to and are able to learn online and further have concurrent capacities to operate such access technologies then, yes perhaps
Like collective valuations given to methods of payment exchange, impact of any social movement can be determined by group size. A "future of learning" claim may be compared to a car manufacturer stating their product will change the way all drivers use all vehicles
A product in operation has and will continue to serve its purpose until such a time where sufficient added value of an alternative outweighs its continuation. The 'future of education' may involve blockchain in some form or capacity but does not address any one person's actual accessibility, usage or requirements for it today