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Blockchain in Education

Harnessing innovation is not only a goal of the Colorado Commission of Higher Education—it is integral to meeting the needs and ambitious vision necessary to supplying an educated workforce of the future. Nearly three in four jobs in Colorado require some education beyond high school, which includes a certificate, two-year or four-year degree. Yet today, almost one-third of Colorado’s adult population lacks education of any type after high school. With this in mind, the Colorado Department of Higher Education is exploring emerging technologies to foster opportunities for practical applications in education and work.


What’s a blockchain?

A blockchain is a record of chronological transactions, much like a traditional financial ledger. Each new set of transactions, or "blocks," are recorded and cryptographically linked to the previous record, forming a chain. Key characteristics of a blockchain are: (1) Integrity – records are cryptographically linked, making them nearly impossible to change; (2) Transparency – because every network user has their own copy of the entire blockchain, updates are shared and transparent; (3) Democracy – blockchains enable verification of peer-to-peer transactions to occur without a centralized mediator. Read more from the U.S. Department of Education Office of Educational Technology.

Blockchain in Education

The recent and rapid evolution of distributed computing and blockchain technology has pushed us to rethink and reimagine many of the foundational aspects of our traditional systems of education. Concepts like trust, value, privacy, and identity are all coming into question as we usher in a new suite of technologies. Through this transition, the CDHE is supporting the convening of stakeholders across the learning continuum to ensure we equitably shape the ever-evolving technological landscape of our state education system.


How the CDHE is Involved

As a member of Colorado’s historic Council for the Advancement of Blockchain, the CDHE's executive director, served on a gubernatorial advisory group. Following the conclusion of the Council's term in 2018, its work transitioned to a consortium of state agencies that will contribute to the continued exploration of this technology. Under Dr. Paccione's leadership, CDHE is one of the responsible agencies exploring an agenda, which includes items such as:

  • Supporting innovation in higher education
  • Building a blockchain-capable workforce
  • Other collaborations and partnerships accelerating progress toward the Master Plan Goals.

CDHE’s Work

CDHE worked with partners for its CDHE Blockchain Initiative, which launched January of 2020. See summary of the summit created by colleagues at Learning Economy. This initiative fostered a statewide effort that provided Colorado with an ecosystem for innovation, pilots, research, and collaboration for the future of education and work. During 2020, the CDHE worked with partners to explore initiatives through the US Department of Education's Office of Educational Technology and also submitted a proposal for the grant funds available through the ACE Blockchain Innovation Challenge. Though unsuccessful, this process allowed for further knowledge sharing and collaborative learning experiences such as-

The Pulse: monthly heck-in call is open to anyone wanting to keep up with the exciting blockchain-related work in Colorado

ACE Engage: How can Blockchain Play a Role in Learning Continuity

Privacy Technical Assistance Center: Credit Interoperability and Reverse Transfer

In alignment with and in pursuit of the CCHE’s Master Plan Goals, the aims of the CDHE Blockchain Initiative are to:

  • Study Colorado’s existing education & workplace infrastructures and models, facilitate stakeholder workgroups, oversee foundational pilots, make recommendations, and publish results.
  • Scale critical technology, data, and equity protocols in order to implement a broad infrastructure for Colorado’s entire supply chain of education and work.