Education models built on blockchain technology have the momentous challenge of programming their blockchains for powerful performance and efficient productivity to overcome. Given the blockchain’s inherent scalability problem (which results in agonizingly slow communication), decentralized education models have adopted different types of distributed networks to decongest their platforms. In this way, they hope to achieve the quality of communication that’s so crucial to their success. Are their capacities enough for their educational tasks?
The blockchain’s scalability problem
Right now, blockchain technology is where the Internet was at the beginning of the 21st century: agonizingly slow and taking a very long time to upload anything. With the blockchain, this happens because each and every node has to “assent” on the blocks that pass through. Popular blockchain platforms, like Bitcoin and Ethereum, can process around 10 transactions per second on average. In contrast, payment companies like Visa currently process around 5,000 to 8,000 transactions per second on average.
Transactions become more expensive since nodes prefer those with higher prices and the more popular cryptocurrencies raise costs on a highest-price-first-served model.
The slow speed and high cost of blockchain transactions, known as the blockchain’s scalability problem, is one of the issues that hinders the mass adoption of this technology.
Education blockchain platforms and scalability
Over the last year, a cluster of decentralized education platforms cropped up touting services that include:
- An enormous array of classes or programs on any single topic imaginable — Tutellus, for instance, has over 120,000 video courses, from how to make the best mojito to official university degrees of the highest level.
- Interactive learning — Blockchain technology promises real-time immediate streams of communication between teachers and students. In its 2017 Joint Research Centre report of the blockchain in education, the European Commission noted that the blockchain is excellent for blended learning where virtual technology is combined with real-time, face-to-face communication.
- Storing permanent records like degree and course certificates. These can be permanently secured on the blockchain for third parties to directly confirm their validity.
- Payment and funding — The blockchain could allow students to pay for their education with cryptocurrency, which would eliminate barriers such as restricted access to bank accounts or credit cards depending on the country of origin.
Given the scalability problem, it makes you wonder how educational models built on blockchain technology could have the audacity to promise such services from a system that is notoriously slow. Don’t each of these offerings take up a huge amount of bandwidth? And doesn’t communication have to be extremely rapid, if not instant, for these effects to take place?
Do education platforms have the scalability problem to start with, or are their current capacities enough for their educational tasks.
The following platforms have adopted different types of distributed networks in order to decongest their platforms.
Five Blockchain Education Models
EdgeCoin stores educational documents like degrees and course certificates on its block for third parties to directly confirm their validity. This cuts costs for students since they don’t have to pay for a notary. It also cuts costs for institutions as it eliminates bureaucracy and paperwork. Additionally, EdgeCoin’s decentralized management system would also help institutions or employers validate credentials with just a single click, rather than going through the time-consuming and technical process of validating each accreditation separately.
The technology that EdgeCoin uses:
EdgeCoin uses proof of scale (PoS) rather than the standard proof of work (PoW). Proof of work is where every node in the network has to process every transaction. So even if there are a thousand nodes on the network, all of them would have to process every transaction made on that network. No wonder it takes so long! PoS is where only a select few of those nodes are chosen, usually but not necessarily selected by the network on the quantity and age of their stack. By choosing a select few individuals to govern the site, the transmission of smart contracts goes much faster, and EdgeCoin can manage its platform more expeditiously.
TeachMePlease (TMP) provides a database of learning institutions for both online and offline schools, as well as different educational programs, from group learning classes for kids to individual sessions with a personal instructor. Those many programs need huge processing power and space to succeed, particularly since TeachMePlease promises “a quality platform that provides easy to use service for each of our clients.” Can its blockchain provide this?
Here’s how they do it:
The TMP blockchain architecture divides itself into two layers: private and public. The private, off-chain layer houses the user’s private and personal data such documents, CVs, copyrights, and so forth. The public layer provides public access to a repository of this private data so that invited parties can verify the reliability of that data.
By doing this, TMP decongests its platform since it directs traffic solely to its main ledger, while keeping the off-chain layer, which is outside of the blockchain network, closed to public usage.
Books, classes, coaching, and other materials can be expensive, and Success Resources knows that the cost of workshops (as well as travel and other associated expenses) can be exorbitant. To make professional and personal development available to as many people as possible, Success Resources founded the blockchain company SuccessLife.
Here’s how SuccessLife expands its platform for events like coaching, workshop assignments, webinars, videos, and streaming.
The SuccessLife token (SLTs) powers transactions between the holders and give them faster transaction speeds through a seamless multi chain payment. The multi chain architecture of the blockchain supports data sharing, time-stamping, and encrypted archiving, making it better suited to support content management for ongoing marketplace development. This multi chain system will allow third-party adopters of the SLT to easily integrate to the blockchain that are perfectly adapted for the SLTs.
The Sony Corporation and Sony Global Education (SGE) developed a blockchain-based student education records platform. School administrators use the technology to consolidate and manage students’ educational data from several schools, as well as map out a system of analytics based on the learning experiences and transcripts. Additionally, the system helps learners store their own evidence of formal or informal learning, share it with a desired audience, and ensure instant verification. The ledger also helps users transfer documents and credit from one institution to another, validate credentials across education systems, and consolidate with a variety of student services in a single repository of information.
Here’s how Sony’s blockchain achieves fast flow:
The system is powered by Hyperledger Fabric 1.0, And the Sony hyperledger solves the scalability problem by separating the standard PoW transaction processing that is performed at one go into three phases: building the blocks, ordering the blocks, and validating each of these blocks. This makes transactions flow faster since it cuts the workload of the nodes. Because only the digital signatures and read/write set are sent around the network with the Hyperledger v1.0 architecture, the scalability and performance are optimized and Sony achieves its goals.
A peer-to-peer platform, Tutellus has over 120,000 video courses that appeal to just about every subject, and this platform rewards its users for learning.
To date, Tutellus has more than a million viewers, so you’d think the website would need a super fast platform to accommodate that much traffic, the many courses they offer, and the flow of communication between students and teachers.
Here’s how they do it.
Tutellus uses a four-layer architecture, as follows:
- Multi-platform Application: This stores the apps (Android, iOS, web apps, etc.) and decentralized services.
- Microservices API: An open-source API providing additional functions to the services.
- Token: the Tutellus TUT.
- Blockchain: The database where Tutellus stores user documents and smart contracts.
Tutellus uses a strategy known as “sharding,” where it breaks up responsibilities between nodes, thereby making communication faster and more efficient. Consider it as a delegation between different groups. Sharding separates large databases into smaller, faster, and more easily manageable parts called data shards. The blockchain is divided into a discrete number of nodes, where each solves a different subtask. Each node passes its data results to the the Directory Service (DS) Committee that aggregates it into a summary called the final block. Information from the final block is sent back to all groups.
In connection to Tutellus, this sharding allows the company to delegate its different tasks so that it maximizes its capacities for its educational tasks.
Decentralized education platforms have huge ambitions that center around quantities of simultaneous real-time communications between parties all over the globe. To succeed, these companies need to overcome the blockchain’s scalability problem, where transactions take an agonizingly slow time to load. Some educational blockchain companies like Tutellus have turned to innovative solutions. These include Proof of Stake (instead of Proof of Work), sharding, an off-chain system, and using a Hyperledger base.
About the author:
Kirill Shilov — Founder of Geekforge.io and Howtotoken.com. Interviewing the top 10,000 worldwide experts who reveal the biggest issues on the way to technological singularity. Join my #10kqachallenge: GeekForge Formula.