Education Blockchain Initiative

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Communicating what a person knows and can do—whether as part of a college admissions process, a job application, or getting credit for prior learning—has always been a challenge. Sharing information across the education and employment ecosystem, which comprises education institutions, employers, and training providers who support skills development and the individuals that obtain those skills, ​​is complicated, particularly when the accuracy and security of these records is important. And historically, ownership of these records has resided with institutions, not individuals.

Emerging technologies hold the potential to improve communication between and among education institutions, individuals, and employers. Blockchain in particular has the potential to center all transactions around the learner, empowering them to control their identity and leverage the skills they have learned throughout their life to expand economic mobility.

The U.S. Department of Education Office of Educational Technology began its exploration of blockchain through the Education Blockchain Action Network to better understand how rapidly evolving distributed ledger technology could be applied to rethink our educational system. Building on that work, and recognizing increased interest and newly formed efforts to utilize blockchain education, the Department tapped the American Council on Education to lead the Education Blockchain Initiative (EBI). ACE is uniquely positioned to mobilize and foster innovative, high-quality practice to connect education and the workforce. Since World War II, ACE has been committed to building an inclusive, dynamic, and resilient postsecondary education sector, and that starts with creating systems that recognize and work for all students.

Launched in February 2020​, the EBI is designed to help identify and evaluate ways that blockchain technology can improve the flow of data among educational institutions and employers while empowering individuals to translate educational outcomes into economic opportunity. The initiative is also funding pilots of promising projects through the Blockchain Innovation Challenge.

Initiative Timeline

Blockchain Innovation Challenge

ACE launched the Blockchain Innovation Challenge to explore how blockchain can connect or create ecosystems, empowering individuals—especially those currently most underserved—to gain more control over their learning in order to access economic opportunity.

The Blockchain Innovation Challenge will make awards totaling $900,000 in two phases to teams that put forward bold ideas to reorient the education and employment ecosystem around the individuals that they aim to serve.

Applications for the Blockchain Innovation Challenge are currently closed. Phase 1 winners will be announced in early 2021.

Learn more about the Challenge on the Blockchain Innovation Challenge page.

​​Learn ​More​​
Publications and Resources

Connected Impact: Unlocking Education and Workforce Opportunity Through Blockchain

The first stage of the initiative culminated in the release of Connected Impact: Unlocking Education and Workforce Opportunity Through Blockchain (PDF), an analysis of existing and potential use cases for blockchain in education, including how distributed ledger technology can empower better learner ownership and communication of skills and credentials. The report provides:

  • An overview of blockchain technology and its potential applications in advancing education
  • An analysis of existing efforts underway and the unique power of blockchain
  • A deeper dive into the specifics of blockchain technology
  • Challenges and considerations for the future of blockchain

The report also provides insights into the three themes that guide the Blockchain Innovation Challenge: personal data agency (to empower learners), lifelong learning, and connected ecosystems.

View the Report

Additional Publications and Resources​

Introduction to Blockchains for Educators
Medium | May 4, 2020​​

Video: Introduction to Blockchains for Educators
U.S. Department of Education | April 30, 2020

We Need to Talk About Learning Continuity
Higher Education Today | April 22, 2020

ACE Education Blockchain Initiative Steering Committee Meeting (PDF)
ACE | Jan. 31, 2020

ACE Initiative Will Explore the Potential for Blockchain to Close Equity Gaps Across the Education Landscape
ACE | Feb. 06, 2020​

Blockchain in Education, Office of Educational Technology
U.S. Department of Education

What is Blockchain? (0.2 MB PDF)
U.S. Department of Education | June 2019

The Blockchain Ethical Design Framework (13 MB PDF)
The Beeck Center at Georgetown University| June 2018

Events and Multimedia

​​Join the ​Blockchain Innovation Group​ on ACE Engage to see recordings of many of the Education Blockchain Initiative's ​past events. ​

Steering Committee

​​The Education Blockchain Initiative Steering Committee will provide stakeholder input and subject matter expertise to ACE. It will also determine the winners of the Blockchain Innovation Challenge and suggest strategies for promoting blockchain technology within committee members' communities.

Gayatri Agnew - Senior Director, Walmart.org -
Gayatri Agnew
Senior Director, Walmart.org
Susan M.  Bearden - Director of Digital Programs, InnovateEDU -
Susan M. Bearden
Director of Digital Programs, InnovateEDU
Todd Borland - Executive Director of Information Technology, Union Public Schools -
Todd Borland
Executive Director of Information Technology, Union Public Schools
Rich DeMillo
Executive Director of the Center for 21st Century Universities (C21U), Georgia Institute of Technology
Read More
Rich DeMillo - Executive Director of the Center for 21st Century Universities (C21U), Georgia Institute of Technology -
Rich DeMillo
Executive Director of the Center for 21st Century Universities (C21U), Georgia Institute of Technology
Amber Garrison Duncan - Strategy Director, Lumina Foundation -
Amber Garrison Duncan
Strategy Director, Lumina Foundation
Kerri Lemoie - Principal and Lead Researcher, OpenWorks Group -
Kerri Lemoie
Principal and Lead Researcher, OpenWorks Group
Joe May - Chancellor, Dallas County Community College District -
Joe May
Chancellor, Dallas County Community College District
John Mitchell - Professor of Computer Science, Stanford University -
John Mitchell
Professor of Computer Science, Stanford University
Rodney Parks - University Registrar, Assistant Vice President, Elon University -
Rodney Parks
University Registrar, Assistant Vice President, Elon University
Bonny Simi - President, JetBlue Technology Ventures -
Bonny Simi
President, JetBlue Technology Ventures
Tomicah Tillemann - Director, Digital Impact and Governance Initiative and Blockchain Trust Accelerator, New America -
Tomicah Tillemann
Director, Digital Impact and Governance Initiative and Blockchain Trust Accelerator, New America
Harold Tran - EBI Project Director, Vantage Point Consulting -
Harold Tran
EBI Project Director, Vantage Point Consulting
Connie Yowell - Executive Vice President, Southern New Hampshire University -
Connie Yowell
Executive Vice President, Southern New Hampshire University

The Blockchain Innovation Challenge

Learn more ​about the Blockchain Innovation Challenge. 

Learn More​​
If you have questions about the initiative, contact ACE at EBI@acenet.edu.

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