An Australian elementary school is teaching Blockchain to kids?
That’s right! In one of Australia’s most disadvantaged urban areas, a teacher (Kieran Nolan, a former network engineer) is the driving force behind Wooranna Park’s grade school students now learning the basics of blockchain technology. As an agent of change, Kieran is bringing about a vital digital revolution in the way that education mechanisms are viewed and approached.
What the heck is Blockchain anyway?
Blockchain may be this century’s most significant innovation yet. A blockchain is simply a distributed database everyone can access. It maintains a list of ordered records, called blocks. Each block has a timestamp and a link to a previous block.
While the foundational blockchain technology of a secure public ledger for financial transactions like Bitcoin, it is now being implemented across varying sectors such as healthcare, manufacturing and even education. Let us try to visualize the future here for a second – imagine having your printer order cartridges for itself online on Amazon when it runs low on ink, or having your medical records available online from the diagnostic centre for your doctor to be able to view, or have your school transcripts and standardized test scores available online for potential Universities or employers to refer to when considering your candidature. This is what the blockchain technology can do for us!
Why teach kids Blockchain?
Because simple numeracy and literacy skills won’t get someone a job in the future! It really is that simple. The way that the world is evolving, there are tons of jobs available for people in the future. But these jobs are available for people who are specifically skilled for these jobs of the future. According to PwC, the number one issue facing the blockchain industry today is a lack of talent. An experienced blockchain developer can command $220,000 a year but there is just not enough of them.
Besides employment, blockchain will be an integral part of our daily lives and while it will be a huge transformation for us, it will be what our kids grow up with. The kids of today will open their first ‘financial’ account through a web3.0 interface as opposed to a bank account, sharing their data through tokenised access nodes, having their identity systems made universally accessible and travelling globally through an open cryptocurrency ecosystem, this new generation will be one’s to drive us into a much more decentralised future.
So in short, we need to get them ready and fast!
Blockchain is impacting education in several ways already. This is not some 5-10 years down the road technology. Right now in education, you can find evidence of blockchain technology such as:
- Payments via Cryptocurrency: Many Universities accept cryptocurrency as payment for tuition fees.
- Certification of degrees : MIT has a pilot program where diplomas are available on an app built on blockchain technology. Graduates can share their credentials with whomever they like to verify diplomas on secured and verifiable distributed ledger technology. Even Sony and IBMhave a shared educational platform to “secure and share” student records such as transcripts, attendance records, and more.
- Evidence of Lifelong Learning : Open University has a system called “Open Badges” showing a more detailed picture of a person’s learning experiences throughout their life, like participation, official certification, community involvement and other skills people develop outside of formal credentialing systems.
In fact several top schools have added or are rushing to add classes about Bitcoin and the record-keeping technology a/k/a blockchain.
How do you introduce Bitcoin or Block chain to your child?
Here are some great websites dedicated to teaching the fundamentals of Bitcoin:
- Podcast: The Bitcoin Knowledge Podcast
And here are the best courses for you to get some basic block chain knowledge:
Coursera- Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Technologies
Khan Academy — Bitcoin : What is it ?
How can schools embrace this new technology?
Schools could explore teaching technology more like art in order to make it more inclusive and individual. Coding does, in fact, have more in common with drawing than accounting by encouraging creativity and thinking beyond the possibilities that are easily visible.
Another approach that schools could adopt is to remove achievement roofs like testing. What if we just said to kids, here are your tools – now, what can you create? How can you use this tool to make your life easier and/or better? How can you improve your school or community?
Teachers need to also embrace shifting curriculums. What you teach today may have “0” value 30 days from now but what we do need is amazing minds who can solve anything. It is important for teachers to remember that we are not teaching children any specific subject or module but rather the best way to learn anything they like!