BLOCKCHAIN TECHNOLOGIES AS DATA STORAGE FOR TEST RESULTS AND CERTIFICATES - THE HUMAN FACTOR
1 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (UNITED STATES)
2 AIT Austrian Institute of Technology GmbH (AUSTRIA)
3 Ministry for Education and Employment (MALTA)
4 Donau-University Krems (AUSTRIA)
5 University of Malta (MALTA)
About this paper:
Conference name: 13th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 9-10 November, 2020
Location: Online Conference
Abstract:Not even the most sophisticated digital environments will make human interaction obsolete, as learning and education are inherently social processes. This also means that any application that involves learning and assessment must deal with problems caused by human error. Some of these problems can effectively be countered or excluded by Blockchain-based technologies. Especially in the case of retroactive manipulation of data, non-Blockchain systems are prone to manipulation, as even the most advanced safeguards cannot prohibit users with high enough access rights to manipulate existing data entries (this may be a mere annoyance when a well-meaning teacher edits a favorite student’s attendance times, but it can quickly become a large-scale problem when the recognition of diplomas is tampered with on an institutional level). As data stored on the Blockchain cannot be altered retroactively, the problem of tampering with existing data could be ruled out.
However, even when a Blockchain-system secures the storage and management of data, there are still humans involved in the process. Especially when Blockchain is used only for the final storage of grades, there is still plenty of room for error: when a professor takes an exam, tells his assistant to note the grade, which is then dropped off at a secretary’s desk, who emails the grade to the Blockcerts-department of the university to secure the entry on Blockchain, this process offers many opportunities for human error, ranging from unfair grading by the professor, to the assistant mixing up U.S. and European grading scales, to the secretary mistyping when copying the grade, to the Blockcerts-clerk assigning the grade to the wrong student.
This problem can be reduced when a whole (basic, gamified or even game-based) E-learning and -assessment system is based on the Blockchain, as this allows to store test results immediately, and to ensure that grades are calculated based on a fixed key and in real time. This process has recently been demonstrated by the serious game for assessment prototype “Gallery-Defender”. While the initial creation of the test (including how answers and actions are evaluated, and determination of the grading key) is still subject to human error, it is the system that provides transparent testing conditions for every student, saves the (intermediate and final) results immediately and securely, and safeguards this data from retroactive manipulation. However, errors can still be possible when initially assigning the digital IDs.
This conference paper will look at the role of humans in the use of state-of-the-art systems that store grades from exams and certificates on Blockchain. With the aim of initiating a broad discussion and providing guidance for future developments.
Keywords: Blockchain, Assessment, Errors, Humans.