Sony Global Education has developed technology using blockchain for open sharing of academic proficiency and progress records, with the aim of building a new, widely applicable educational infrastructure that enables new methods of evaluation.
Blockchain is a decentralised network technology in which the same data is recorded and maintained on multiple nodes (computers connected to the network) that are geographically isolated from one another.
The technology has attracted considerable attention in recent years, particularly in its application in the realm of finance with virtual currencies such as bitcoin. Open peer-to-peer (P2P) exchange platforms for these currencies have continued to grow in number, Sony Global Education says, and Blockchain shows great promise in revolutionising services of all kinds, not limited to just finance.
According to the company, blockchain enables network users to freely and securely transfer permissions, without the need for an established relationship of trust between network participants, and in such a way that damaging or tampering with programmes and data is prohibitively difficult.
Sony Global Education has now developed technology that applies blockchain to the educational field, leveraging blockchain's secure properties to enable encrypted transmission of data - such as an individual's academic proficiency records and measures of progress - between two specified parties.
The technology has the potential to pave the way for an entirely new infrastructure system for sharing records securely over the network in any number of ways, opening new doors of possibility for academic records and how they are assessed, Sony Global Education says.
For example, after taking an examination to demonstrate his or her academic proficiency level, an individual could direct the testing organisation to share the test results with one or more third-party evaluating organisations. This would be a first if implemented on a system-wide basis.
According to the company, with this diversification and the changes it brings about, different evaluating organisations may come to use individuals' test results in different ways, each according to its own evaluation methods.
Open and secure handling of academic data will become possible through the adoption of application programmes that leverage Sony Global Education's new technology, leading to the emergence of new educational services in the future.
With this infrastructure in place, each evaluating organisation sent an individual's testing records could assess those results and calculate a score in a way that fits its own methods. Additionally, the creation of an open yet secure infrastructure has the potential to draw many educational institutions to the network, resulting in high credibility in test administration, the company says.
Finally, given its strength as an open data exchange protocol, Sony Global Education's new technology can be applied not only in the educational arena, but also in a wider range of industries, from medical care to environmental services to energy, the company says.
The company says it views blockchain as a core technology that has the potential to significantly shape the educational landscape of the future. Sony Global Education aims to begin developing a new educational infrastructure in 2017, when it will incorporate application programmes utilising its new blockchain-based technology into its own service offerings, starting with the Global Math Challenge.