Education today is still controlled mostly by educational institutions, which offer quality, credibility, governance, and administrative functions. This model is not flexible enough and poses difficulties in recognising the achievements of a lifelong learner in informal and non-formal types of education. As a result, a lifelong learner’s transition from formal to informal education and vice versa can be hindered, as the achievements acquired in one type of education are not easily transferable to another (Harris and Wihak, 2017, Lundvall and Rasmussen, 2016, Müller et al., 2015). Generally, lifelong learners have limited control and ownership over their learning process and the data associated with their learning. This indicates the need for a learner-centred model across all types of education, offering learners with a framework for fully controlling how they are learning, how they acquire qualifications and how they share their qualifications and other learning data with third parties, such as educational institutions or employers.
The emergence of Blockchain technology promises to revolutionise not only the financial world, but also lifelong learning in many different ways. Blockchain technology offers a decentralised peer-to-peer infrastructure where privacy, secure archiving, consensual ownership, transparency, accountability, identity management, and trust are built in at the software and infrastructure levels. As such, the Blockchain has the potential to revolutionise lifelong learning, by providing opportunities to thoroughly rethink how we find educational content and training services online, how we register and pay for them, as well as how we get accredited for what we have learned and how this accreditation affects our career trajectory.
This workshop will explore the different aspects of lifelong learning that are affected by this new paradigm. In particular, we will investigate the different scenarios that place the learner at the very centre and in control of their learning process and its associated data via the use of Blockchain technology. We will outline the ways that data ownership and sharing, accreditation, peer-tutoring, as well as other aspects of lifelong learning can evolve within a learner-centred ecosystem based on the Blockchain. Finally, we will discuss the various benefits that this learner-centred ecosystem bears both for learners and educators.
The workshop will not be focused on a single educational platform or model, but will attempt to address the wider spectrum of issues associated with lifelong learning. Participants will be given the opportunity to discuss current challenges and shortcomings in lifelong learning, propose solutions, as well as identify how the Blockchain can help realise these solutions. At the end of this workshop, participants will have acquired:
(i) An awareness of what Blockchain technology is, how it is currently being used and what its potential is for facilitating lifelong learning.
(ii) A good overview of the range of scenarios for the use of Blockchain technology in lifelong learning.
(iii) An insight into best practices for building a learner-centred ecosystem based on the Blockchain.
1. Introduction to Blockchain technology and its potential impact on lifelong learning (10 minutes)
2. First group activity: Participants come up with scenarios for the use of Blockchain technology in lifelong learning (15 minutes)
3. Groups report back their findings (5 minutes)
4. Second group activity: Participants pick one scenario per group and analyse it (15 minutes)
5. Groups report back their findings (5 minutes)
6. Discussion and closing (10 minutes)
Harris, J. & Wihak, C. (2017) To what extent do discipline, knowledge domain and curriculum affect the feasibility of the Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) in higher education? International Journal of Lifelong Education, 1-17.
Lundvall, B.-Å. & Rasmussen, P. (2016) Challenges for adult skill formation in the globalising learning economy–a European perspective. International Journal of Lifelong Education, 35(4), 448-464.
Müller, R., Remdisch, S., Köhler, K., Marr, L., Repo, S. & Yndigegn, C. (2015) Easing access for lifelong learners: a comparison of European models for university lifelong learning. International Journal of lifelong education, 34(5), 530-550.