ECE professor Greg Heileman is leading an effort to make the transfer credit articulation process more efficient and equitable via blockchain. UnBlockEd is one of four project that won the first phase of the $900,000 Blockchain Innovation Challenge hosted by the American Council on Education and funded by the U.S. Department of Education.
The projects all identify ways that blockchain technology can help disadvantaged learners more equitably access education and economic opportunity. The winners are collaborators involving K-12, higher education, technology providers and public agencies. All will pilot new applications of the nascent technology to facilitate more secure, streamlined sharing of learning records and create stronger connections between education and work.
"The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the urgency of exploring new solutions that can better serve learners at every stage of their educational journey," said Kara Freeman, senior vice president and chief operating officer of ACE and a member of the Education Blockchain Initiative Steering Committee. "These initiatives seek to reach underserved populations and improve economic mobility with a more just, equitable system by leveraging new technologies to improve information-sharing and expanding access."
The Blockchain Innovation Challenge is part of the Education Blockchain Initiative, which launched in 2020 with funding from the U.S. Department of Education. The initiative aims to explore the potential of distributed ledger technology to equitably empower learners to translate their educational outcomes into economic opportunity. ACE is partnering with the Presidents Forum, which managed the application review and selection process, to provide technical assistance to the winners.
Phase 1 winners received $150,000 to establish a minimum viable project in spring 2021 that demonstrates the potential to implement their solution. Those selected to continue to Phase 2 will share an additional $300,000 to fully implement their pilot projects.
View KOLD 13's coverage of UnBlockEd.