As originally posted via Michigan Virtual's Blog
In my last article, I introduced web3 and some of the core technologies shaping the future of the internet.
Today, we’ll journey deeper into the era of web3, where the implications for education and the future of work become increasingly profound.
In this piece, we’ll explore three pivotal aspects shaping this new frontier: verifiable credentials, learner-employment records, and the evolving critical skills necessary for our changing workforce.
In addition to looking at the theory behind the concepts, this article will also provide some examples of current use cases to help further define the impacts of these technologies in education.
In the web3 paradigm, one standout innovation is the ability to issue verifiable, immutable credentials. Through the use of blockchain technology, learning organizations can create such credentials, which ultimately:
Reduce friction, and
Decrease the potential for fraud.
Beyond the gains in efficiency and security, the shift to credentials can provide the foundation for realizing a more personalized and equitable educational vision.
Where grades fall short of recognizing the whole learner, credentials can allow us to:
Recognize learning with greater granularity,
Better document learner journeys and pathways, and
Provide learners with more relevance.
Credentialing is a concept that has been introduced to many of us in education. However, through technological advancements such as blockchains and digital wallets, we can now transfer true ownership to the individual. This ownership is a key differentiating factor compared to most current micro-credentialing platforms.
While we have talked about personalized learning in education for the last decade, we have yet to build new infrastructure to support such learning, instead relying primarily on traditional grading systems. Perhaps it is time for an upgrade that matches the workforce’s needs.
Outside of education, web3 technologies are already powering learner-owned learner-employment records. With the power of blockchain technology, learners can maintain comprehensive, immutable records of their educational and professional achievements.
They can selectively share these records with future educators, employers, or educational organizations, thereby streamlining transitions between different stages of education and employment.
In the education space, we can see examples moving from theory to practice across the globe. For example, the European Blockchain Services Infrastructure (EBSI) is developing systems to help learners leverage the power of verifiable credentials for learning and employment across Europe.
In short, EBSI serves as the highway allowing individuals to use blockchain technology to present their learning credentials to educational organizations and potential employers, reducing friction and barriers in learning and employment. You can see a quick overview of one learner's experience here:
In the US, workforce development organizations like Jobs For the Future (JFF) are helping lead the push towards a skill-based future, partnering with organizations like Walmart to realize this potential future. JFF’s Plugfest has been helping jumpstart a skills-based future by supporting the development of critical infrastructure like digital wallets.
Another organization, Smart Resume, is working to help bridge the gap between education organizations, professional organizations, and workforce development organizations through the use of verifiable credentials.
While there are other examples, we can see a confluence between technology and workforce development in which verifiable credentials will play a key role.
It’s essential that we begin to think about how shifts in the web, technology, and the workforce will necessitate changes in our classrooms and schools.
Critical Skills for the Web3 Era
As we continue to see the web evolve, we must take a fresh look at the essential skills we impart to our students. Digital citizenship skills will need to be deeply embedded across all subject areas as these tools continue to evolve. Thanks to the technologies powering web3 and AI, learners will need to adapt to an ever-changing world filled with increasing agency and complexity.
While the future surrounding digital assets and currencies may seem uncertain, financial institutions and governments worldwide are beginning to prepare for a future where digital currencies are the financial system. These changes will necessitate a shift in how we approach financial literacy, particularly through the lens of agency and autonomy of the individual.
Implications for the Future of Education
In 2009, I began teaching in a 7th-grade classroom and saw firsthand the power and potential of technology in the classroom powered by better hardware and access to the world-wide-web. Those in education at that time would agree that these technologies forever changed education.
As the web continues to evolve, so, too, will education. The technologies supporting web3 will reshape our digital landscape. It’s crucial for educators to be aware of these changes and adapt accordingly.
From issuing verifiable credentials to owning learning and employment data and redefining critical skills, the educational landscape must evolve in lockstep with technological advancements. By doing so, we’ll ensure that we prepare our learners for a future where they don’t just survive but thrive in the rapidly changing world of work.