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Group projects allow the development of students' interpersonal communications skills and their ability to function as a team member. Specific roles are defined within a group, and individuals learn from other team members. As a result, team products are often better than the ones produced by a single individual. Assessment of group projects is a very complex task, as it is needed to obtain and trust information of how well everyone performed his/her specific role.

The blockchain technology, as a distributed record of digital events, is transforming finance and commerce sectors, and is currently being applied to education. Some current works discuss the potential of blockchain technology in education, from the perspectives of formative evaluation, learning activities design and tracking of the learning process [1], including student an educator achievement management [2].

Tapscott and Tapscott [3] consider that blockchain can help transforming higher education and provide alternative models to ensure lifelong learning, as it acts as a secure ledger where one can store information of value, such as transcripts or certificates. The information is stored across all participating computers and can be viewed by anyone possessing the cryptographic ‘public key’ but cannot be modified, even by the original author. Data records are timestamped, providing a trusted and timed record of the added data.

In this work we propose a blockchain-based learning environment to assess student performance in group projects. By using the ‘smart contract’ technology, which enacts blockchain transactions when certain conditions have been met, the environment verifies the consistency of student practice and his/her relations with other group members. Information such as how many times the supervisor has discussed with students in the past semester, number of group meetings, level of consensus regarding role selection and project design is stored in the blockchain network. Thanks to the traceability and immutability of this technology, both students and supervisors’ behaviors are recorded in the blockchain ledger, protecting the interests of both parties for team assessment.

Technical description of the learning environment is provided, as well as an evaluation of the blockchain technology in some real student group assignments. As conclusions, blockchain technology and smart contracts can be used to provide a reliable proof of value to measure learning process and group outcomes. The learning environment contributes to some problems of information asymmetry and miscommunication because of its decentralization and immutability. As information and value are published and maintained collectively, the authenticity of information is ensured and valid for formal assessment in higher education.

As some disadvantages, the immutability feature of blockchain technology would act as a double-edged sword. It removes the possibility of modifying educational record or incorrect practices for legitimate reasons for some students. In future works we will discuss how to contribute to technically reduce this problem, facilitating the way for a more global adoption of this technology in higher education.

[3] Tapscott D., & Tapscott A. (2017). The blockchain revolution and higher education. Educause Review, 52(2), 11-24.