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Blockchain isn't a household buzzword, like the cloud, the web, the internet of things or bitcoin. It's not an innovation that you’re able to see and touch as easily as a smartphone or a NEST thermostat. But in a world where anyone (and anything) can establish a digital persona or publish content online the blockchain may be the answer to a question we've been asking since the invention of the internet: how do we establish trust amongst stakeholders on digital platforms?
This keynote presentation provide a quick, nontechnical introduction to the blockchain. We’ll then take a quick tour through the blockchain technology landscape, understand what a computational blockchain is and discuss the notion of smart contracts and digital tokens.
We’ll wrap up with a focus on blockchain uses cases and initiatives in education.
WHAT WE WILL ACTUALLY DISCUSS:
Distributed Ledgers and Blockchain
Blockchain Technology Architecture
The Tech Landscape
The Education Blockchain
BUSINESS NETWORKS are often inefficient because
each participant in the network keeps records, a
LEDGER, of all transactions between all the parties
that the business interacts with.
This process is expensive because of DUPLICATION of
effort and INTERMEDIARIES adding costs for their
BLOCKCHAIN solves these problems by providing a
SHARED LEDGER technology that allows any
participant in the network to see the system of record
BLOCKCHAIN TECHNOLOGY provides a business with
a more efficient transfer of goods and services.
WHAT ABOUT LEDGERS
This system's been around since the 13th century. Effectively, we've been incrementally digitizing
a system that’s centuries old. The upside is that it's tried and tested. We understand it.
The LEDGER is updated every time an asset flows into the organization or goes out of the
organization. Each member of the business network who is affected updates their LEDGER.
Every member of the BUSINESS NETWORK has their own copy of the LEDGER.
BUT…PRIVATE LEDGERS ARE:
INEFFICIENT - each party
in the BUSINESS
NETWORK runs their own
business processes that
update their ledger.
EXPENSIVE - Internal and
external audit takes
time/effort and money to be
done across the BUSINESS
institutions have told us that
20% of their time is spent
performing internal and
VULNERABLE – LEDGERS
are subjected to fraud,
malicious modification or
to cyber attack.
A BLOCKCHAIN is a trusted,
distributed LEDGER that has a
shared set of business processes
across all the ENTITIES in the
• The LEDGER is share amongst all MEMBERS of the NETWORK.
• There are a number of types of NETWORKS. There are PUBLIC NETWORKS such as
cryptocurrency like Bitcoin, or PRIVATE NETWORKS such as a supply chain or a
• ASSETS are transferred across the BUSINESS NETWORK.
• In the real world there are two types of ASSETS:
• TANGIBLE ASSETS like a house or your car.
• INTANGIBLE ASSETS like a piece of digital music, or a financial instrument such
as a bond, or a piece of intellectual property. These would be examples of
intangible assets. So, ledgers are the key to effectively recording the flow of
assets in and out of an organization. The ledger´s updated every time a
• Sometimes the transfer of the asset is governed by a contract.
• All members of a BUSINESS NETWORK share a
common LEDGER on the BLOCKCHAIN.
• The LEDGER is replicated through P2P replication
technologies across all the different members of
this BUSINESS NETWORK. Each member of the
network has a copy of the LEDGER.
• The BLOCKCHAIN may provide PRIVACY
SERVICES that determines what entities can see
which transactions on the BUSINESS NETWORK.
For example, if entity A exchanges an asset with
entity B, each would be able to see the full
details of that transaction. However, entity C, if it
was not involved in that transaction, might not
be able to see the details.
• CONSENSUS - means that we determine who within the
business network gets to validate or approve a transaction.
This is encoded into the blockchain protocol.
• The Blockchain allows us to record PROVENANCE. The
LEDGER provides an audit trail, a complete record of who's
owned what ASSET throughout its life cycle over time.
• IMMUTABILITY - Privacy services let us link transactions
(a BLOCK) in the BLOCKCHAIN with the next BLOCK. This
means that its impossible to tamper with the blocks once
they're actually written.
• IMMUTABILITY boosts TRUST across the BUSINESS
• FINALITY - there is one single SYSTEM OF RECORD, one
SINGLE SYSTEM OF TRUTH across the BUSINESS NETWORK.
BASIC BLOCKCHAIN (LEDGER)
Parties on the blockchain are represented by PKI PAIRS:
• PUBLIC KEY (Address or Account Number)
• PRIVATE KEY
• Each PARTY maintains its own copy of the
information and all nodes must validate any
• The information could represent transactions,
contracts, assets, identities, or practically anything
else that can be described in digital form.
• Entries are permanent, transparent, and
searchable, which makes it possible for community
members to view transaction histories in their
• Each update is a new ‘block’ added to the end of a
‘chain.’ A protocol manages how new edits or
entries are initiated, validated, recorded, and
• Cryptology replaces third-party intermediaries as
the keeper of trust, with all blockchain participants
running complex algorithms to certify the integrity
of the whole.
• HEADER INFO – timestamps, hash info
• FIRST PARTY (FROM ADDRESS)
• 2nd PARTY (TO ADDRESS)
• ATTRIBUTES – User defined data that
can be inserted into the TRANSACTION
encrypted or in the clear. This can be
additional INFORMATION ABOUT THE
• TRANSACTION Size is limited depending
upon the protocol.
• BLOCK Size is also limited
The Blockchain Network is
Decentralized - All PARTICIPANTS
(NODES) of the NETWORK have a
copy of the BLOCKCHAIN and have
equal voting rights. There is no
NODES have a VESTED INTEREST
• What’s In it for the Nodes?
• Why Participate in the Network?
• Bitcoin – 12.5 BTC per block ‘mined’.
PUBLIC – any entity view the list of all blocks and all transactions within the block.
Trust driven by the blockchain protocol.
PRIVATE – the network consists of validated, trusted nodes. Trust by delegated
authority. Only validated/known entities can view the contents of the blockchain.
PERMISSIONED – only authorized ‘apps’ can create transactions and interact with
PERMISSION(LESS) – any ‘app’ that abides by the blockchain protocol may interact
with the blockchain.
• IOTA – IOT
• ION & FILECOIN
THEY ARE OFTEN PRIVATE AND
• Ability to harness the computing
power of all BLOCKCHAIN nodes,
performing computation within
on any/all nodes.
• Platform for building
• TURING COMPLETE virtual
machine running on the
• Ability to create SMART
• Issue TOKENS, that can be
exchanged for other CYBER
• Open API
SMART CONTRACTS HISTORY
• In 1994, Nick Szabo, a legal scholar, and
cryptographer, realized that the decentralized
ledger could be used for smart contracts,
otherwise called self-executing contracts,
BLOCKCHAIN CONTRACTS, or SMART CONTRACTS.
• CONTRACTS can be converted to computer code,
stored and replicated on the system and
supervised by the network of computers that run
• They REMOVE the middleman - Smart contracts
help you exchange money, property or anything of
value in a transparent, conflict-free way.
• Suppose you rent an apartment from me. You can do this
through the BLOCKCHAIN by paying me in a DIGITAL
• You get a receipt which is held in our SMART CONTRACT
• I give you the digital entry key to the apartment which
comes to you by a specified date. If the key doesn’t come
on time, the BLOCKCHAIN releases a refund to your
• If I send the key before the rental date, the function holds
it releasing both the fee and key to you and me
respectively when the date arrives.
• The system works on the If-Then-Else premise and is
witnessed by anyone with access to the BLOCKCHAIN, so
you can expect a faultless delivery.
• If I give you the key, I’m sure to be paid. If you send a
certain amount in bitcoins, you receive the key. The
CONTRACT is automatically canceled after the time
expires, and the code cannot be interfered with by either
of us without the other knowing, since all participants are
simultaneously alerted to any all changes.
DECENTRALIZED APPs (dApps)
• Decentralized applications (dApps) are applications that run on a P2P
network of computers rather than a single computer. dApps, have
existed since the advent of P2P networks. They are a type of software
program designed to exist on the Internet in a way that is not
controlled by any single entity.
• Decentralized applications don’t necessarily need to run on top of a
blockchain network. BitTorrent, BitMessage, Tor, are all traditional
dApps that run on a P2P network, but not on a Blockchain (which is a
specific kind of P2P network).
• As opposed to simple smart contracts, in the classic sense of Bitcoin,
that sends money from A to B, dApps have an unlimited number of
participants on all sides of the market.
PUBLIC or PRIVATE – the protocol authorizes who can read a list of
all transactions and all blocks.
PROGRAMMABLE - Applications, via APIs or SMART CONTRACTS can
read from & write transactions to the BLOCKCHAIN.
PERMISSIONED or PERMISSIONLESS – the protocol decides who and
how APPs (Dapps) can be built on top of the BLOCKCHAIN.
IMMUTABLE – Once written a BLOCK and its TRANSACTIONS cannot
be altered or deleted.
ANONYMOUS – All parties are referred to by a an alphanumeric
ADDRESS (PUBLIC KEY). Identities of all parties is private.
DECENTRALIZED – All PARTICIPANTS of the NETWORK have a copy of
the BLOCKCHAIN and have equal voting rights. There is no CENTRAL
DISTRIBUTED – NODES on the NETWORK are located throughout the
‘world’ which provides fault tolerance.
Education Blockchain Characteristics
Self Sovereign Identity on the
Self-sovereign identity - where an
individual is able to control
his/her identity attributes (that is, the
pieces of personal data), no matter
where they reside.
Public blockchains facilitate self-
sovereignty by giving individuals the ability
to be the final arbiter of who can access
and use their data and personal
Within an educational context, the term is
on its way to becoming synonymous with
the empowerment of individual learners to
own, manage and share details of their
credentials, without the need to call upon
the education institution as a trusted
Set up smart contracts with a public DApp. Simple interface that can replace
complicated agreement processes via smart contracts and digital signatures.
Issuance of educational documents on the Blockchain. Validation and re-
validation of new and existing documents with integrated optical recognition
Users pay with EdgeCoins (EST) on e-learning platforms for courses and other
content they have passed or consumed. EdgeCoin integrated payment DApp.
Users obtain valid, encrypted and unique certificates via Edgecoin smart
contracts in just one process.
Students can see and manage their academic development or the whole career
in their Edgecoin based smart contract (online and/or stored on a secure device)
that was provided by their university at the beginning of their studies.
Institutions can get rid of their heavy documented certification process by
having it all digitalized, organized, governed and issued by fully integrated
Lifelong Learning Passport
Tracking Intellectual Property
•Receipt of Payments
•Waiver and/or Loan Mods
• Educators publish content openly, while keeping track of re-use,
without putting limitations on the source material. It
allowsFACULTY to be rewarded based on the level of actual use
and reuse of their teaching materials, similar to how they are
rewarded based on citations to research papers.
• PROVENANCE traceable by time, author and subject matter.
• FACULTY could advertise the publication of their resources and
link to those resources and cite resources they used in creating
the material. A reward system (tokens) could be linked to the
level of reuse/citation.
• Example: a smart-contract could distribute payment to
content authors based on how often their material is cited
or used. Authors would no longer have to go through
intermediaries such as research journals, which often limit
use by charging high fees for access.
Lifelong Learning Passports
• There are a few existing resources that provide users with a way to record their
learning during and beyond schooling.
• Except for Open Badges, none of the existing solutions provide ways to verify the
experience and credentials described and included within these .
• With blockchain tech, learners could store their own evidence of formal or
informal learning, share it with a desired audience, and ensure instant
• Auto Updateable CV that that can be shared with employers. Employers, can
reduce verification workload since they won’t have to validate CVs and can simply
search instantly to see whether a candidates possesses a desired skil.
WHAT’S YOUR USE CASE?
• Self-sovereignty: users can identify themselves while
maintaining control over the storage and management of their
• Trust: users can have more confidence in an infrastructure that
securely offers transactions such as payments or the issue of
• Transparency: users can conduct transactions knowing that each
party has the capacity to enter into that transaction.
• Immutability: users can rest assured that records will be written
and stored permanently, without the possibility of modification
• Disintermediation: the removal of the need for a central
controlling authority to manage transactions or keep records.
• Collaboration: the ability of parties to transact directly with each
other without the need for mediating third parties.