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Making Blockchain a European Affair

Social-, educational- and economic transactions with no need for a middleman make blockchain sound like a well-adapted technology for Europe. In this spirit, the Blockchain Observatory and Forum were launched last week by the European Commission. Initially, it was created as a European Parliament pilot project that was proposed by MEP Jakob von Weizsacker. Vice-President for the Digital Single Market Andrus Ansip commented the launch in the following way: “We want to build on Europe’s substantial talent base and excellent startups to become a leading world region that will develop and invest in the rollout of blockchain.” The European Blockchain Observatory and Forum is intended to bring Europe’s best experts together and promoting an open forum for blockchain technologists, innovators, citizens, industry stakeholders, public authorities, regulators and supervisors, to discuss and develop new ideas in order to learn, engage and contribute in an open way.

As the European Commission has funded blockchain projects via the research programmes Horizon 2020 and FP7 since 2013 and until 2020 it will fund projects for up to €340 million. Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society Mariya Gabriel said: “I see blockchain as a game changer and I want Europe to be at the forefront of its development. We need to establish the right enabling environment – a Digital Single Market for blockchain so that all citizens can benefit, instead of a patchwork of initiatives. The EU Blockchain Observatory and Forum is an important step in that direction.”

On January 15 eLearningworld reported about a new report called “Blockchain in Education” from European Commission that also shows the prospects of using blockchain technology in education and its potential to transform the field. The main conclusion is that: “Blockchain technology can help improve old models of data management and bring benefits to learners and educational institutions in the EU – if policymakers are well prepared to embrace the change.”

The last part is very important and should be seen in the light that the digitization of education in general within EU today is on very different levels in the member states. The report shows three forces of transformation in using blockchain in education. For instance, real-time access to educational results and degrees for the student. This means as soon as the educational institution has approved the result with one click, which furthermore means less administration for the school, the student can use the educational results to apply for new courses or use in their CV. The data is available for any educational institution or employer to access instantly for confirmation. “Smart contracts” is another service that is improved using blockchain, which means a contract that automatically enacts an agreement if certain conditions are met, e.g. when a student applies for financial aid for study etc. More areas of use and how the technology works you’ll find in the report mentioned above and also in “Learning Design in Practice for Everybody” where a section of the book focuses on how blockchain technology will impact the learning designers work in the future.

Written by
LarsGoran Bostrom©

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