Applying Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) in education
Before we get into this, in the unlikely event that you don’t know what an NFT is, we’ll explain it in the simplest terms possible.
WTF is an NFT?
Anything that is ‘fungible’ is, in a nutshell, replaceable (by something similar.) Therefore, a fungible token is any token that’s replaceable with something similar. So, for example, a Bitcoin is fungible since one can replace another.
Obvious and relevant examples of non-crypto fungibility include an ounce of gold, stocks in the same company, or even a Dollar bill. All are exchangeable for duplicate versions of the same thing. Fungible!
Still with us?
NFTs, on the other hand, are non-fungible. This means (yes, you guessed it) they are unique. Due to their rare qualities, NFTs are neither replaceable nor interchangeable in any circumstances.
NFTs are created or minted from digital objects representing all sorts of items, including collectibles, sports highlights, art, music, music rights, to name but a few. The list goes on. Even Jack Dorsey’s first tweet sold as an NFT (for more than $2.9 million.) Their ownership information is held explicitly on the Ethereum blockchain, though supported by other blockchains as well. Storing information this way, of course, makes piracy impossible. So what we’re talking about is the opportunity to create an irreplaceable asset, with excitement and interest around it due to its scarcity, which might well (under the right circumstances) drive a high asking price.
We could go on, but this is not the place. Suffice to say that the global lockdowns and bullish cryptocurrency market have played a considerable part in 2021’s welcoming embrace of NFTs. Will the bubble burst? Sure! However, don’t be fooled into thinking they’re a flash in the pan. Regardless of the current trends, NFTs are here to stay, and you can read more on the future of NFTs in this article. So the next obvious question to ponder is how they will affect education?
How NFTs work in education
The reality is that the future of applying NFTs in real life remains somewhat unknown. Still, since it looks likely that NFTs will exist in a great many industries, there’s no doubt NFTs offer benefits to every vertical — including education. Within this space, one obvious use case for NFTs is to verify qualifications. Course completion proof, such as any certificate or license, is generally provided in digital or paper form. Universities and employers require official replicas of this document as part of the employment process.
Certificates and qualifications in the form of NFTs remove the burden of verification. Subsequently, the approach also delivers a more straightforward process for storing evidence of a learner’s achievements (proof of knowledge).
The NFT smart contract can contain a wealth of metadata, including a student’s name, the awarding body, and qualification date. There might even be an image of them qualifying. All of this would help maintain the award’s integrity while also giving employers absolute peace of mind.
It makes a lot of sense, right? So what else? What about the endless possibilities related to rewarding students for learning?
Suddenly, NFTs offer a wide range of opportunities, from managing and trading e-learning earnings to rewards for completing surveys, watching educational videos, attendance rates, punctuality, and much more. So when we at Studyum considered applying NFTs and NFT collectibles to an NFTfi platform integrated within the Studyum learning management system, we got very excited indeed.
In this regard, Studyum celebrity educators will create and trade their personalized photo-holographic NFT collectibles. In addition, educators can create and share video and audio in the same way. We haven’t even begun to consider the opportunities, but what’s clear is that NFTs work very well in a community setting — which is the precise plan for Studyum.
As a post-Covid-19 society embraces remote working as a standard, NFTs will become practical proof of qualification and achievement. Immutable proof of knowledge. As professional development platforms continue towards skills-based match-making, transferring a candidate’s skills record between organizations and systems could well be the solution for a longstanding problem. I.e., Are they actually qualified?
Fast forward to a future where NFTs will be used as digital proof of a person’s skill-set and can be transferable and evidenced between employers and other trainers with a few simple keystrokes.
Of course, this new wave offers challenges. Still, thanks to blockchain technology and the genuine benefits that NFTs offer the education industry, it’s happening regardless and likely sooner than we think. The time has come for education to embrace the technological advances available fully. For too long, education has lagged while other — arguably less worthy industries — have advanced beyond anyone’s imagination. It’s time to invest in the future of decentralized learning.