What is an Educational NFT? Use Cases
What is an Educational NFT? Use Cases of NFTs in the Academe
You might have heard about how some lucky speculators were able to flip NFT for eye-watering profits at the height of the so-called NFT Summer of 2021, when speculation surrounding the NFT space was at a fever pitch and literally anyone could make a quick buck flogging PFPs.
Fast forward to today, and the speculation has left town – perhaps for the greater good of the NFT space – and we're here to separate the facts about NFTs and their real use cases apart from the fiction.
Today we will talk about educational NFTs, but first things first.
What are NFTs?
Nevertheless, let's start off this article by defining what a non-fungible token (NFT) is.
The main value of non-fungible tokens is how they establish the authenticity of digital assets such as digital art, video clips, images, music, items from virtual worlds and games, documents, social media posts, and so much more.
NFTs are units of data stored on a blockchain certifying the authenticity and unique details of a digital asset, rendering them unexchangeable for another. That's where the idea of "non-fungibility" comes in.
Contrast this to bank notes, which are fungible. One example: if you had a $10 dollar note, you can switch it for a couple of $5 dollar bills and you would still have the same value.
On the other hand, if you own an original painting by Andy Warhol, you have a unique asset with its own unique value.
Anybody can take a photo of your Warhol, or even paint a replica themselves, but neither will have the same value or have the same qualities as your original painting.
However, as we all know by now, verifying the authenticity of physical items and collectibles can be extremely tricky.
Rare cards from collectible card games or trading card collections can cost millions of dollars but can be fairly easy to forge.
Distributed ledger technology makes this impossible because their veracity is indelibly recorded on an immutable blockchain once their NFTs are minted on-chain, ensuring their authenticity regardless of what kind of digital assets they represent.
Consequently, non-fungible token use cases are yet evolving and on the rise, with more and more industries incorporating NFT technology into their business models. The educational industry is no different.
Let’s have a look at how NFTs are changing the academe and the education industry through novel educational NFT use cases.
Metacrafters Educational NFT
Metacrafters is based on the proof-of-learn concept. Meaning that after you complete the course, you will receive an NFT that is tied to you.
This will improve your chances of landing jobs as it will serve as a confirmation that you actually have the skills that you claim you do.
Anybody can have a look at how challenging it is to receive a Metacraftes educational NFT, so those that do have one will immediately make a good first impression!
Why Are Educational NFTs a Necessity?
Whether you're applying for a job or further studies, part and parcel of the process for the hiring party or the admissions board is to verify that your student records and credentials are authentic.
Unfortunately, Tom, Dick, and Harry can simply obtain fake academic credentials through various forms and methods.
Fake degrees are a real problem with real consequences all over the world – and employers, governments, the academe, and society is well aware of them.
For years, people have been looking for solutions to no avail. Is there something that can be done besides degree verification policies that can be circumvented?
After all, many careers require verifiable expertise. Employees lacking that expertise aren't only a danger to others (especially in the healthcare field), but also to their own.
There's also the problem of hiring individuals who are simply unqualified or incompetent for the jobs they wish to have. Just imagine this: in 2018, two-thirds of Fortune 500 companies noted that they couldn't find suitable candidates with authentic credentials that can be vetted.
Well, that's where one of the more compelling use cases for NFTs in the educational space comes in – in theory, NFTs in the academe not only help verify the authenticity of the degrees an individual has but also certify that the said individual possesses the suitable knowledge and training to carry out their duties in a professional manner.
Let's take a look at the ways in which education NFTs might change the industry in the coming years.
Many forward-thinking academic institutions around the world are using NFTs to give virtual credentials to students.
For instance, the University of Nicosia, the first academic institution to offer a master's degree in distributed ledger technology and digital currencies, was one of the first institutions to grant students academic credentials in the form of certificates that can be verified on-chain (while serving as academic tokens that can be used in the future).
The same can be said for Duke University, which also grants students NFT certificates for its Master of Engineering in Financial Technology degree.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology was also one of the first schools to provide virtual credentials as NFTs. The NFTs provided by these institutions would contain immutable, unique information about a student's degree that potential employers can use as a reference to verify a candidate's credentials at a flick of the wrist.
This has long been a tedious manual process involving endless back-and-forth between academic registrars and mailing them to the requesting parties. NFTs streamline this process immensely while preserving the document's integrity ≠ for good.
Develop entrepreneurial skills of students
Students are constantly creating. Whether it's writing reaction papers, essays, art, or simply digital content they put on their socials, NFTs can help them develop the spirit of entrepreneurship.
Students have made bank and paid for their tuition by using their talents to create NFTs and build their own followings in the web3 vein while showcasing their skills to the world.
What better way to equip students across disciplines than encouraging them to sharpen their entrepreneurial skills and build up their competencies in public relations, marketing, business, and new technologies?
Moreover, NFTs guarantee that their work is theirs and theirs alone, as minted on-chain – reducing the risk of plagiarism and forgery while they create. With NFTs, educators and institutions can resell their digital creations – not just student artwork – to an eager global audience who wish to support novel art and content creators.
Preserving the integrity of student records and academic research
It's understandable why large academic institutions struggle to maintain records – especially when it comes to records and research conducted in the past.
And even when they're maintained as digital files, there's always the risk of theft, loss, or forgery. On the other hand, records kept as NFTs are much easier to store and transmit between teachers, schools, or institutions.
Better still, even in cases where students lose the original physical copies of their diplomas, certificates, or records for any reason – or at worst, a total collapse of a country's educational register – blockchain technology can help them verify the veracity of their educational attainments and go on to have productive careers in the fields they wish to pursue.
Royalties from textbooks
Authors and publishing houses receive their royalty payments every time textbooks, resources, and materials for courses are sold. However, they do not get even a bit of royalties when they are resold on the secondary market.
NFTs enable educators, authors, and publishers to constantly receive royalties each time they are resold for life – whether the NFT represents a physical or digital textbook.
Digital textbooks and class materials
Now that we're on the subject of textbooks, we might as well add the fact that educational institutions can harness NFTs and simply publish entire textbooks and course materials as digital assets.
This makes said textbooks and course materials "web3 ready" in the sense that they can be programmed with the requisite clauses to enable them to receive a percentage on resales for as long as they are resold and reused on the open market.
Large academic publishing houses such as Pearson are examining such avenues to help them monetize their digital class material and open up new revenue streams, which we may very well see coming to pass in the future.
Digital badges and micro-credentialing
Micro-credentials are credentials given to individuals who learn or build on a new skill. For instance, employees in a company or students in an educational institution can receive them every time they complete a course, attend a seminar, or participate in academic undertakings.
NFTs can remove the risk of fake or duplicate badges while helping verify the veracity of a credential or badge.
Moreover, exam bodies and organizations that store digital copies of such academic achievements on a distributed ledger will always be proven as a true and authentic source.
For instance, the Ethereum blockchain introduced the Proof of Attendance Protocol (POAP), which allows users to create a specific digital NFT badge called a POAP that proves their presence at an event.
This can be used to record attendance at a class, training, or academic event. On the other hand, Credly, a digital credentialing firm, has begun harnessing distributed ledger technology to enable professionals to display their badges on their LinkedIn profiles so that prospective employers can check the authenticity of their badges.
These are just examples of how we might very well witness degrees and credentials moving on-chain sooner than most people think – it just makes too much sense to do so.
Provide student scholarships and incentives
Academic institutions can leverage NFTs to provide scholarship opportunities. They can grant students NFTs as a sort of key to gain access to scholarships and incentives such as free course materials, and tickets to events, seminars, and courses to students. While it remains to be seen how effective NFTs can work in this context, we can't deny how beneficial it looks on paper.
NFTs aren't just another fad to come and go – there is serious potential in how NFTs create real, tangible value for students and academic institutions alike.
Students can gain priceless, forward-thinking learning experiences with what could be tomorrow's technology today, while institutions can benefit from the creation of new business models and revenue streams.
Smart contracts are here to stay – and they may gain rapid adoption as the primary way we transact with each other, as well as verify and establish ownership of assets.
Needless to say, the potential is massive.
If the academe is to produce a new generation of students prepared to take on the rapidly-changing landscape of a world going digital, it makes perfect sense to pay special attention to blockchain technology, smart contracts, and NFTs as the way forward not just for the educational sector, but every industry experiencing a sea change through web3 technology.