Two Japanese tech giants have teamed up on an initiative using blockchain to provide educational records that cannot be faked.
Announced by Sony on Wednesday, Sony Global Education, Fujitsu Ltd. and the Fujitsu Research Institute have launched a field trial to evaluate the utility of blockchain tech in the management of course records and exam grades. Also collaborating on the trial is Human Academy, an educational institution that serves foreign students.
The trial will see foreign students aiming to study in Japan take a course preparing them for the Nihongo Kentei language proficiency test.
Students will use Fujitsu's Fisdom*2 digital learning platform as part of the course, with data including study logs and test grades being immutably stored and managed on a blockchain. The data will be provided to students as an "unfalsifiable" digital certificate, Sony said.
Growing numbers of foreign workers and students are coming to Japan, and many must provide the results of Japanese classes and exams taken before arriving in the country to take start employment or education.
However, Sony said that it's not always easy to confirm foreign students' course results.
"In terms of language ability, this has led to issues as appropriate instruction suited to a person's ability was not provided after coming to Japan, and the institution was subsequently unable to offer job search support," the company explained.
Educational data provided over a blockchain can potentially provide educational institutions with a more reliable idea of a prospective student's ability at speaking Japanese, Sony explained, as well as verification that the student actually took the course.
The news marks Sony's latest initiative to utilize blockchain in education. In 2017, the company developed a new educational platform in partnership with IBM that uses blockchain to secure and share student records.
It filed for a related patent the same year, setting out how nodes on an education blockchain network could be run by teachers, students or other parties that might need access to those records. “Educational experiences” would be cemented on the chain after being signed by the relevant users and could be exchanged, transacted and transferred via the blockchain as a "smart property."
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