Open BlockChain

Researching the potential of blockchains

What is a blockchain? What are you and your team working on? What benefits do you forsee?

What are Blockchains?

Blockchain is most commonly known as the technology underpinning the Bitcoin cryptocurrency. But in latest years the open source code of the Bitcoin blockchain has been taken and extended by many groups to expand its capabilities. Blockchain technology, which can be thought of as a public distributed ledger, promises to revolutionise the financial world. A World Economic Forum survey in two thousand fifteen found that those polled believe that there will be a tipping point for the government use of blockchain by 2023. Governments, large banks, software vendors and companies involved in stock exchanges (especially the Nasdaq stock exchange) are investing intensely in the area. For example, the UK Government recently announced that it is investing £10M into blockchain research and Santander have identified 20-25 internal use cases for the technology and predict a reduction of banks’ infrastructure costs by up to £12.8 billion a year.

The reach of blockchain technology will go beyond the financial sector however, through the use of ‘clever contracts’ which permit business and legal agreements to be stored and executed online. For example, the startup company Tallysticks aims to use blockchain based wise contracts to automate invoicing. In October, two thousand fifteen Visa and DocuSign showcased a proof of concept demonstrating how wise contracts could be used to greatly speed up the processes involved in car rental – rental cars can be driven out of the car park without any need to pack in or sign forms. The capability to run clever contracts led Forbes to recently run an article comparing the future influence of blockchains to that of the Web and Internet.

We believe the blockchain technology and clever contracts can also be used in education in many interesting and potentially revolutionary screenplays. On this website you can see some of the ways we see the future of education developing using the blockchain and what we are doing to progress towards our vision.

BlockChain Overview

A blockchain is a publicly collective immutable ledger – an append only log of transactions which uses crypto-currency technologies to minimise any security risk. As can be seen in the figure above, transactions are contained in blocks which are linked together through a series of hash pointers. Any tampering of a block can be detected since the hash pointer to it would no longer be valid. As a ledger system it is very open. In addition to the source code being openly available a key feature of blockchains is that in principle every user has their own copy of the entire blockchain. In fact, there is no central or master copy simply the numerous copies held by the volunteers in the user community. Volunteers are rewarded for their effort through a number of algorithmic processes which can result in payment. Puny payments can be linked to individual transactions. Consensus on what types of blocks and transactions can be part of the blockchain is automatically reached according to whether the majority of blockchain holders accept freshly proposed blocks. This attribute leads to a system where consensus is hardwired into the software. Without the need for any central control or mediator blockchains permit for leaderless democracy — a fresh way of governing human behaviour online through ‘one computer one vote’. In this way, a blockchain can act as a provenance protocol for sharing data across disparate semi-trusting organizations.

Blockchains and higher education

We envision a world in which the awarding and validation of qualifications no longer occur exclusively under the management of an education institution or an employer and individual students, teachers, and peers take more ownership of the learning practice and its outcomes without compromising on safety, security, and accessibility. The centralised model of the present is no longer sustainable: learning happens increasingly outside the brick-and-mortar lecture halls of schools, colleges, and universities on online platforms, within communities of like-minded individuals, or by contributing to projects and initiatives in the real-world. Learning is far more international than it used to be: key education players open campuses abroad, while students travel to different countries to improve their employability prospects. In the networked, digitally empowered world of the 21st century, education providers often do not have remit or in fact the means and capacity to cover the range of activities learners engage with, which attest their achievements, skill, and abilities.

We believe that blockchain technologies may hold an response to collating the outcomes of this fresh distributed learning reality and we intent to explore the possibilities that this infrastructure could provide.

Open BlockChain

Researching the potential of blockchains

What is a blockchain? What are you and your team working on? What benefits do you forsee?

What are Blockchains?

Blockchain is most commonly known as the technology underpinning the Bitcoin cryptocurrency. But in latest years the open source code of the Bitcoin blockchain has been taken and extended by many groups to expand its capabilities. Blockchain technology, which can be thought of as a public distributed ledger, promises to revolutionise the financial world. A World Economic Forum survey in two thousand fifteen found that those polled believe that there will be a tipping point for the government use of blockchain by 2023. Governments, large banks, software vendors and companies involved in stock exchanges (especially the Nasdaq stock exchange) are investing powerfully in the area. For example, the UK Government recently announced that it is investing £10M into blockchain research and Santander have identified 20-25 internal use cases for the technology and predict a reduction of banks’ infrastructure costs by up to £12.8 billion a year.

The reach of blockchain technology will go beyond the financial sector however, through the use of ‘wise contracts’ which permit business and legal agreements to be stored and executed online. For example, the startup company Tallysticks aims to use blockchain based brainy contracts to automate invoicing. In October, two thousand fifteen Visa and DocuSign showcased a proof of concept demonstrating how wise contracts could be used to greatly speed up the processes involved in car rental – rental cars can be driven out of the car park without any need to pack in or sign forms. The capability to run brainy contracts led Forbes to recently run an article comparing the future influence of blockchains to that of the Web and Internet.

We believe the blockchain technology and brainy contracts can also be used in education in many interesting and potentially revolutionary screenplays. On this website you can see some of the ways we see the future of education developing using the blockchain and what we are doing to progress towards our vision.

BlockChain Overview

A blockchain is a publicly collective immutable ledger – an append only log of transactions which uses crypto-currency technics to minimise any security risk. As can be seen in the figure above, transactions are contained in blocks which are linked together through a series of hash pointers. Any tampering of a block can be detected since the hash pointer to it would no longer be valid. As a ledger system it is very open. In addition to the source code being openly available a key feature of blockchains is that in principle every user has their own copy of the entire blockchain. In fact, there is no central or master copy simply the numerous copies held by the volunteers in the user community. Volunteers are rewarded for their effort through a number of algorithmic processes which can result in payment. Petite payments can be fastened to individual transactions. Consensus on what types of blocks and transactions can be part of the blockchain is automatically reached according to whether the majority of blockchain holders accept freshly proposed blocks. This attribute leads to a system where consensus is hardwired into the software. Without the need for any central control or mediator blockchains permit for leaderless democracy — a fresh way of governing human behaviour online through ‘one computer one vote’. In this way, a blockchain can act as a provenance protocol for sharing data across disparate semi-trusting organizations.

Blockchains and higher education

We envision a world in which the awarding and validation of qualifications no longer occur exclusively under the management of an education institution or an employer and individual students, teachers, and peers take more ownership of the learning practice and its outcomes without compromising on safety, security, and accessibility. The centralised model of the present is no longer sustainable: learning happens increasingly outside the brick-and-mortar lecture halls of schools, colleges, and universities on online platforms, within communities of like-minded individuals, or by contributing to projects and initiatives in the real-world. Learning is far more international than it used to be: key education players open campuses abroad, while students travel to different countries to improve their employability prospects. In the networked, digitally empowered world of the 21st century, education providers often do not have remit or in fact the means and capacity to cover the range of activities learners engage with, which attest their achievements, skill, and abilities.

We believe that blockchain technologies may hold an reaction to collating the outcomes of this fresh distributed learning reality and we intent to explore the possibilities that this infrastructure could provide.

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