This interview is part of our new Blockchain In Education series, where we interview the world's leading thought leaders on the front lines of the intersections between blockchain and education.
In this interview we speak with Hanady AlAhmadieh, Project Lead and co-founder of BlocRecs, to understand how her company is using blockchain to transform the education business, and what the future of the industry holds.
1. What’s the story behind BlocRecs? Why and how did you begin?
HA: When I was applying for my Masters’ program abroad, I was faced with the tedious process of requesting certificate copies from my university and mailing them overseas. I couldn’t understand why I still had to get these copies in paper format while everything else has become digital. Digging deep into the issue, it turned out that risk of degree fraud has been stopping universities from adopting digital alternatives. Just around the same time, my co-founders and I were introduced to blockchain. Studying the technology, it became evident to us that blockchain can deliver the much-needed digital transition.
2. Please describe your use case and how BlocRecs uses blockchain:
HA: BlocRecs helps educational institutions issue their credentials on the blockchain. Doing so helps the institution digitize its certificates while eliminating the risk of certificate fraud. While other digital solutions for digital credentials do exist, we believe the value of blockchain is in helping every individual consolidate all their credentials into a single portfolio linked to their identity. This revolutionizes education by giving students the ability to create a diversified educational path in the sense that credentials become stackable and a student is not confined to one educational institution or a specific learning path to gain a credential; instead, they can mix and match modules from many different educational institutions that can add up to a credential. Moreover, blockchain is promoting self-sovereignty. Students can now gain control over their credentials when the latter are secured on the blockchain instead of having to go back to the educational institution for any requests or inquiries.
3. Could you share a specific customer/user that benefits from what you offer? What has your service done for them?
HA: We’ve been working with ESA Business School to secure their degrees on the blockchain. With our solution, ESA registrar can save time spent on answering calls and emails coming from employers that need to verify the degrees of their graduates.
Also, the ESA registrar can significantly cut down the number of requests they receive coming from graduates who normally ask them for printed certificates that authenticate their records.
Lastly, the stakeholders that ESA registrar deal with – employers and graduates – can both save time and money by having a digital platform that allows instant sharing and verification of certificates.
4. What other blockchain use cases in the education industry are you excited about?
HA: An interesting use case of blockchain in education is the attestation of CPD hours. A blockchain system can help track the continuing professional development hours an individual has earned through trainings, seminars and courses. For cases where professional licenses renew based on a minimum number of hours, this can be done through smart contracts that will take in blockchain verified credentials and allow for the automatic license renewal after a professional has completed the needed number of units.
Such system will help better track professionals’ learning paths, motivate them to take more CPD hours, and allow for a better verification process by concerned parties.
5. Where will BlocRecs be in 5 years?
HA: BlocRecs aspires to help learners turn their credentials into learning paths and these paths into rewarding careers. With our focus on learners, educational institutions and employers, we believe we can bring in value to all 3 through blockchain credentialing.
We focus on helping learners consolidate all their credentials in a single e-portfolio, then use technology to gain insights on the skills an individual has learnt. From our partner employers, we can gain insights on their top needed skills and use this to match job candidates based on verified skills.
In 5 years, we aspire to have on-boarded 200 issuing institutions, with access to 3 million learners and 500 partner employers. We also aspire to be matching learners to their top matching jobs based on their verified skills.