Blockchain Technologies in Education

PICAPIPE GmbH co-founder Alexander Pfeiffer is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He received a grant from the Max Kade NY Foundation, presented by the Austrian Academy of Sciences.

At the “Comparative Media Studies / Writing Department | The MIT Scheller Teacher Education Program and The Education Arcade”, Alexander researches the impact of blockchain technologies on the educational sector. The aim is to enable bilateral recognition of examination achievements and certificates and to record the examination results in a highly secure and non-manipulable manner even while they are being taken. He is particularly interested in the areas of e-learning & assessment and game-based learning & assessment. The following two videos may be useful for an introduction to the subject:

In his IGNITE TALK (MIT) [August 2018] Alexander explains why blockchain technologies in education are relevant for the crediting of grades: Watch Alexanders IGNITE TALK 2018 (MIT) on YouTube

In the current IGNITE TALK (UCI) [October 2019] Alexander presents the "educational framework" regarding games used for assessment purposes: Watch Alexanders IGNITE TALK 2019 (UCI) on YouTube

Alexander has developed two prototypes over the last few months. The general theme for these prototypes is "art". A "Serious Game" (Gallery Defender) and a "Quiz App" (Gallery Defender Quiz).

The game Gallery Defender is a PC application (WebGL). The player slips into the role of a gallery owner, who has to defend is precious art using expert knowledge against the evil thief. At the assessment level, the results are sent to the player's blockchain address. A token is transferred from the game account to the player's account. An encrypted message is attached to the token, in which the test results are recorded. This message will be held on the blockchain forever. The "phasing" method ensures that the token cannot leave the player's account.

Furthermore, a token is sent to the teacher, which contains a lot of useful information about the test. With the "Pruning" method, however, the "private information" is only stored for a predetermined period of time and only the proof of the transaction itself remains on the blockchain. This reduces the "Blockchain Bloat"; the goal is to only store information on Blockchain which should actually be stored there "forever". In addition, a token was generated which rewards the player with particularly good performance, as the token can be traded to redeem a prize. Here a "Gamification Approach" was implemented to show that this is technically possible and to test the function of the "Bundling-Accounts". As it is of utmost importance that the user does not have to buy tokens with FIAT exchange values beforehand to use the application, but only needs a wallet address (which is easy to set up and free of charge). Of all the tokens mentioned above, several millions have been generated, with the possibility of issuing additional tokens on the same token ID. The tokens themselves serve as secure information carriers. The game is currently running on Testnet, but in a later iteration it is planned to switch to "Mainnet" and use the public blockchain "Ardor" and its childchain "Ignis". The game was developed by technicians from Texas A&M University together with Alexander.

Manuel Pirker-Ihl, CEO of PICAPIPE GmbH, developed a different approach for the e-learning app. The app itself is "mobile First" and was developed especially for the player type of the "Time Conquerer" (Pfeiffer, 2018; dissertation WU-Wien). As for those who want to quickly play a "learning canapé" in the subway. It goes here strongly into the "Microlearning" area. The player can "learn", "check him/herself" or "take an exam" (e.g. this could also be the homework). In the latter case, the results are stored on the Ardor/Ignis blockchain. But back to the used blockchain approach. Manuel developed the possibility to generate a unique token after each test, a so-called "Singleton" token. The test line is not attached as a "message” but written into the description of the token. This enables absolute "uniqueness" because each result is actually a separate, independent token. Another extremely exciting approach, which Manuel as a "Smart-Contract" expert has come up with.

Both approaches are currently in their "first iteration". In addition to testing at the UCI as part of the Connected Learning Summit, the apps will now be tested between 18 and 20 October at the Game-City. This is made possible by the Center for Applied Game Research at the Danube University Krems, which operates a "Blockchain-in-Gaming" stand and tests both apps described above with visitors to the fair.

Dear readers - stay tuned! You can find out the results of this unique research project firsthand here at Picapipe.com and sometimes even before all the others. :)

Oh yes: write to alexander.pfeiffer@picapipe.com to become a tester of both approaches!

Gallery Defender

Gallery Defender - The Quiz