School News: Schools Can Use Blockchain Technology, Too

Summer 2022

This article appeared as “Blockchain Reaction” in the Summer 2022 issue of Independent School.
Could education be the next frontier for blockchain technology?
Blockchain technology, a decentralized record of transactions that makes any digital asset transparent and unchangeable, is most known for its use in cryptocurrency and nonfungible tokens (NFT). Rutgers Preparatory School (NJ), however, sees how it can be used in other ways.
Part of the school’s desire to use blockchain stems from its interest in emerging technologies and how they can be applied in a school setting. School officials knew that many colleges accept digital diplomas, which are particularly helpful for international students, and they started to explore why and how they might be useful for Rutgers Prep students. They considered how physical copies of a diploma can be forged or destroyed, subject to the environment and circumstance—fire, flood, a shutdown school—and how a digital version could provide security against such circumstances. The school started working with a company in 2021 to bring this idea to reality, and the 2022 graduating class was the first to receive the digital diploma, which contains a student’s portfolio, course list, transcript, and a link to the school’s website.
Rutgers Prep’s use of blockchain is not limited to diplomas. Students apply it in creating NFTs—noninterchangeable units of data stored on a blockchain—in their fine art classes to protect their works of art. They also use blockchain to create decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs)—cooperatives collectively owned by members who use code to set and execute rules—for group projects, especially science experiments. This ensures that contributions are transparent and agreed upon, and individual work cannot be plagiarized or miscredited. 

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