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 contracted with 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 was 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 also funded four projects through the Blockchain Innovation Challenge (BIC). The BIC was designed to explore how blockchain can connect or create ecosystems, empowering individuals—especially those currently most underserved—to gain more control over their learning to access economic opportunity. Information on project winners can be found on the Blockchain Innovation Challenge page.

Initiative Timeline

Publications and Resources

Connected Impact: Unlocking Education and Workforce Opportunity Through Blockchain

Connected Impact: Unlocking Education and Workforce Opportunity Through Blockchain (PDF), provides 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 presents:

  • 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 framed insights into the three themes that guided the Blockchain Innovation Challenge: personal data agency (to empower learners), lifelong learning, and connected ecosystems.

View the Report

The Education Blockchain Initiative Final Report

The EBI concluded with the publication of a final report that outlined outcomes and best practices that emerged from the Education Blockchain initiative, and also listed opportunities based on the four winning Blockchain Innovation Challenge projects, including an emphasis on interoperability and data alignment in order to make the technological infrastructure sustainable and durable.

View the Report

Potential to Impact: Harnessing Blockchain to Empower Learners

In conjunction with the formal conclusion of the Education Blockchain Initiative, ACE, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the Presidents Forum launched a new partnership called "Potential to Impact: Harnessing Blockchain to Empower Learners." The virtual convening series is exploring how to engage end users of these innovations to further promote learner empowerment. For more information and to participate in the series, email

Additional Publications and Resources

Connecting the Pieces: The Benefits of Blockchain for Higher Education
ACE | October 15, 2020

Video: What is Blockchain?
ACE | September 23, 2020

The Blockchain Future of Higher Ed
Inside Higher Ed | September 18, 2020

How Can Blockchain Play a Role in Learning Continuity?
Medium | May 4, 2020​

The Blockchain Innovation Challenge

Learn more ​about the Blockchain Innovation Challenge and winners. 

Learn More​​