Blockchain has gotten plenty of attention lately as a new mode of exchange, allowing experimental cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and the sale of NFTs in ways that leave an unalterable, fully transparent public record that tracks the transfer and ownership of digital things.
And the technology may help address an age-old challenge in any classroom: motivation.
A group of blockchain projects called “learn-to-earn” (also sometimes called “earn-to-learn”) aims to incentivize learners to engage with educational content and, just as importantly, stick with it. Several startups are experimenting with encouraging users to watch tutorials or take quizzes in exchange for earning cryptocurrency. CoinMarketCap’s “learn crypto, earn crypto” program, for instance, has refined its program one step further, so that once a learner demonstrates they’ve mastered some material, rewards are directly deposited into the learner’s digital wallet.
Other emerging programs in the K12 space focus on the unique needs of hard-to-reach students. Consider Learning Coin, a project led by the World Bank that incentivizes students in rural communities to stay in school and improve academic performance. The program evaluates completion and consistency of student work, then releases digital funds accordingly.
While conventional cash transfer programs can be vulnerable to corruption and fail to scale due to inefficiencies, blockchain supports the World Bank’s program by ensuring transactions are recorded publicly on a transparent digital ledger. As a governance tool, these automated transfers also reduce administrative overhead and record-keeping, which can be challenging for education programs in remote locales.
Another platform, Mygrants, allows learners to access skills training and build new competencies while developing credit through digital cash transfers performed at a low cost by blockchain technologies. The training content is broken up into short, personalized learning “pills” based on personal goals. As students answer questions, they collect points and receive formative feedback to develop critical-thinking skills. Learners benchmark their progress against peers with similar goals, and they receive badges, points, and a digital payout at the end of the month if they reach their goals.