I have been following the bitcoin evolution with some curiosity but without really looking at the underlying technology being used.

Having been involved in the Open Badges for Higher Education WG, I follow Carla Casilli posts to check what is happening with open badges, namely the launch of @badgechain. Being currently involved in a project to support Syrian refugees to attend online accredited courses and MOOCs, in Jordan, I became less active and more of a practitioner looking at ways to use them to support the engagement and motivation of these students, who have been sometimes through traumatizing experiences.

Today, while reading one of Carla’s posts, she directed to W. Ian O’Byrneexcellent post What is blockchain? https://goo.gl/yZFdwi and to ethereum.

Ethereum moves blockchain technology from a financial application (bitcoin) to contracts (I am new at this so please bear with me), and this shift suddenly made all the sense to me and to its huge, even life saving application in higher education in emergency contexts.

One of the main problems faced by Syrian students who wish to enroll in higher education or who attended higher education is to be able to produce their certificates of high school completion and/or attendance of university. In order to obtain these certificates, they need to return to Syria, at great rick of being caught, even killed and paying enormous sums to be able to obtain them. Without these precious documents, they are simply not allowed to enroll and pursue their education most of the times.

Blockchain technology with its peer2peer network and distributed database, time and date stamped blocks may have an enormous potential to allow these students (and mobile students around the world), or the higher education institutions where they wish to enroll, wherever they are, to be able to access the certificates, authenticated to be used as proof of their education, becoming sometimes even a life saving instrument…

Now, I will let the experts talk. Does this make sense? Is it possible from a technological perspective?

Getting the Ministries of Education and Higher Education Institutions to move with this, it is another story…

First published in medium.com https://medium.com/@pmorais/blockchain-and-higher-education-in-emergency-environments-4a5e47b84176#.4dz2edg3f