What Does the Blockchain Mean for University Partnerships?

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Ray Schroeder, Associate Vice Chancellor of Online Learning at University of Illinois Springfield, and Senior Fellow at UPCEA returns to the show to remark on the acceleration of the blockchain movement during COVID-19, and how the blockchain can assist in new university collaborations.

Every four years. People are leaving and changing what they're doing, and they need new credentials in order to move forward. You're listening to enrollment growth university from Helix Education, the best professional development podcast for higher education leaders looking to grow enrollment at their college or university. Whether you're looking for fresh enrollment growth techniques and strategies or tools and resources, you've come to the right place. Let's get into the show. Welcome back to enrollment growth university, a proud member of the connect Edu podcast network. I'm Eric Olsen with Helix Education, and we're here today with Ray Schroeder, associate vice chancellor of online learning at University of Illinois Springfield and senior fellow at Epsea. Ray, welcome to the show. Thanks so much, Eric. It's great to talk to you again our very first three peat guests. Many have called ray the Michael Jordan of enrollment growth university. Today's parents confirms its super excited to chat with you today about the acceleration of the blockchain movement during covid Ray, before we dig into that, can you remind the listeners of University of Illinois Springfield and your role there? Well, my role is to direct our online education program we have twenty five degree program is spanning all of our colleges at Uis and we continue to grow through this epidemic. And you know, things are working very well for people who can take their courses entirely online exactly. Ray covid has accelerated the evolution and adoption of a lot of new technologies over the past six months across higher had. have blockchain conversations or builds accelerated as well? Well? Certainly conversations continue and expand. The actual builds have been slowed by the covid ...

...process because it was all hands on debt beginning in February and March to put all classes at most universities entirely online, and that meant the it people, from you know, the hands on programmers to the support staff to the pedagogical staff helping to put those courses online and including the CIOS, who who are the ones really who, in many cases, will lead this, hand in hand, I would say, with the registrars, will lead this forward. The development of blockchain in universities. We're seeing more and more stories of collaboration between colleges. Especially now I'm seeing shared virtual admission events between prestigious liberal arts institutions. We're seeing new consortium partnerships and core sharing between hundreds of institutions. How can blockchain similarly leverage this collaborative moment? You know, you're absolutely right. It's fascinating. You know, this is something that I personally have advocated for two decades and not been particularly successful, but in in this time I beg and I will say that, you know, the concern has always been, well, these are our courses, our degrees, and we don't want to, you know, give up enrollments. On the other hand, as the universities have to put everything online, and even smaller colleges, it's a huge challenge. And so it has become evident to everyone that this really makes sense to share courses, to have faculty at One institution deliver a certain course in return the other institution delivers another course and and you allow dual enrollment across those institutions. And we've seen some great collaborations from five universities and western Massachusetts...

...to Oh guy, she had, you know, the CIC, which is a consortia be independent colleges and a very large one. So we're seeing a lot of that going on. What blockchain rings to that is the ability to credential on one platform and universally for students, and that's really, you know, a key piece of it. But I think let me give a little more broad look at the way blockchain is interacting, or, you know, has the potentially interacting universities. It really began, Gosh, I don't know, two thousand and seventeen, I think it was, that MIT developed a standard for block shirts. They called them as an open standard for creating, issuing, viewing and verifying block chain based credentials and certificates. So that was really kind of the cornerstone for most colleges and universities to begin to investigate. And it's open source and they even shared a manual of how they went about developing it in Miti implementing it at Mit. So what it allows are a number of great advantages, and I probably the biggest advantage in our day is that it allows one unifying electronic platform to disseminate credentials. So on the one hand universities can put information in, on the other hand, employers can tap that with permission and sourt through the database and hr can make decisions, maybe even using an ai tool to identify the best fit and then do those interviews.

So it's so much better and it's so much better for the student. You know the students who had to get paper transcripts that were delayed. They needed to be notarized and if you had a parking see, well, you couldn't get the transcript. So your paid the few. So credentials on a block chain most likely, almost certainly, will we own by the student, not by the institution. So the student will be able to add credentials. Let's say they had an internship or an externship outside the university, they could add that credential to their blockchain entry so that when they apply this is included with the courses from various colleges. And as we move forward in higher at now we're seeing that no longer our students just getting a baccalaureate, let's say, they coming back again and again because jobs are changing. You know, the US Department of Labor says the average ten year of a job in the United States is four years. So every four years people are leaving and changing what they're doing and and they need new credit eventials in order to move forward. You mentioned how students centric. The origins of thinking about blockchain in higher at have been in this more collaborative, high red world that we've seen the last five months that we hope we will continue to see, is this concept of a credential on the blockchain, a really perfect currency for a future in which we see more enroll university partnerships and shared enrollment opportunities. Yes, you make me smile because when you say currency, of course blockchain came the original application, large application, was bitcoin and itherium now even, which is an open source public block chain on which most universities are currently testing. Those that...

...are testing are using a theium. Well, that too has a either a token cryptocurrency that can be used to pay for patrol or gas. You know, this is originates or is used very heavily and in the EU, in Europe. So yes, absolutely so. We replicate that within universities, are within higher education, and you build your credentials on this and it's one way that informally, students can substitute, let's say, computer science of programming, a python course from one university to another university on their credentials. Now that leads to what we've been talking about, is the universities themselves recognizing the substitution of individual courses. But I might add that when one puts a course into your virtual transcript on the block chain, it's not just the course you know, and it's been one of the problems with transcripts. Who could have a course number, let's say, see us, for computer science, three hundred and thirty three, and then len aim of the course into a python. Well, you didn't know what they learned, you know, and and so in. On the block chain you can have example projects, sample code. You can have more information about what was the textbook, who was a professor? Where did you rank in your class, if it was a large class? All kinds of information can be put into that entry so that those who are evaluating you for hiring have much, much more information and are and you can better represent yourself to a potential employer. Yes, speaking about that idea...

...of having a more transparent and just helpful record when you're trying to get a new job or up level of your your current organization, what evolutions in blockchain adoption do you anticipate happening with the workforce and individual employers? And I see on all fronts. So I guess you know I mentioned two and so let's look at then diagram. Perhaps you know, in our minds, one are the group of university, so one big circle for that, one big circle for the students and the third, even bigger circle is for the employers and prospective employers. So all three forces are served universities because right now, honestly, it's a big pain for most universities to crank these out. I mean some in fact have delegated the opportunities to the clearing house and and they can generate some of these things, but it's still, you know, you still keeping track of it and and that's not really at the core of teaching and learning. You know, it's it's kind of a side job. For Students, there are the challenges of how do you how do you show yourself on a transcript when you're thirty seven years old and and yeah, you got a baccalaureate and maybe an MBA, but you know you've done all these other things, you've led some big projects and maybe in fact you've got a patent or you've developed something new. How do you get that into hr as you're applying so that they see what you're doing and then from the employers. What a mess. You know, you announced a job and you're going to stack of two and a half foot all of people applying and letters and Oh, you know all of that. It would be so much easier if you could just...

...tap it off a blockchain and have a I have a program go through that and quickly tabulate, you know, our what are your key points? They have to do this and this and demonstrate that. And for the things, well, now, now we've sorted all of them down. Now the neat thing about these entries are, by the way, that if you list to college course, the university validates it, it is secure and validated. Or let's say it's an employer. Maybe you work for a corporation, you know IBM or Walmart for that matter, and they validate what you put in there so that it carries that kind of Impromotur, that stamp that says you did that and yes, we stand behind it, that that you succeeded or didn't, but you probably wouldn't want to put up what you didn't, but but that you have succeeded to this degree. So that's really a much better way and it's you know, as we enter this fourth industrial revolution. It's the way things should be done, not on paper, good heavens, you know, and stay all mail. It's not the way to get transcriptions out right. When you think about where that conversation and transparency is happening, if you think about a market place for the new blockchain credentials or resume of the future, are we most likely for that to be an evolution of Linkedin? Is it's part of a university's Career Center? Is it one of these collaborations between many, are all, universities, like we talked about earlier in the episode? What's the most likely place where this, this employer view of the individual's record lives? That's a great question. You know, I see it starting in in those areas that they that you mentioned. We see it starting at...

...colleges and universities, in the course a MIT and Harvard, number of institutions there. Dozens of them are doing it now, not a thousand, but but there are dozens. And and in Europe there are quite a few that are doing it, that are using the block chain to to semitate credentials. But so we see institutions starting this. Certainly they are a player and an important player but we also see that that there are employers that are are kind of generating or categorizing, cataloging rather, applications that they get so that they're kind of creating their own internal version of it. And then Linkedin is a great example of, you know, kind of a not nearly u biquitous site that holds those very brief resumes of individuals, and yet they're so free form. You know that it doesn't give you a yes, it's an electronic but it's free form. And yes, there's lots of data that you can get from linkedin. You can see where persons who graduated from that program where they were, and so you can see, yeah, it's a credible program, not just by their advertising but backed up by Linkedin. So so there are pieces that come from each one of these areas. Yeah, I'm not sure how it's going to go forward. I mean it's it'll be interesting to see if the EU, which is I had in some ways with they had a grinding and declaration that they set some time ago and what it did was really a created an agreement to work toward creating an easily accessible, highly transportable and secure educational credential. And you know, of course it's based on blockchain. So we see the movement over there. It could be that it comes from...

Europe or it could be that it comes from the US. Certainly a mit and Harvard were their first, you know, and and we'll see those develop. So you know, it's hard for me to say right now. Again, with covid and the economy, you know, it's really hard to tell. I think that by next fall we're going to be in a much more stable situation and everybody's going to be jumping forward on this. I think that we're finding that colleges and universities are not going back. They won't go back fully to the only solely campus based experience, and so electronics and online courses, which means if they're online, we're now bringing in adult learners, which also then means that they're going to want to mix credentials for professional continuing education with those from traditional degrees, where really great stuff. Any next steps? Advice for listeners who are trying to leverage the moments they've seen happen with other at tech investment at their institutions this year they're trying to push some blockchain progress through right now. Where should they start first. Well, I think they really need to investigate the technology. You know, it's not a huge investment. I mean it's programming, but this is not a secret. blockchain programmers are not inexpensive now and in fact they're one of the highest paid right out of college, I think, up to eighty two hundred thousand dollars a year or something like that. And so yeah, blockchain would need to be outsourced and the like, but one would. One should begin, I think, with that MIT manual. MIT is published a good bit of stuff, a lot of peer reviewed publications on the topic, and you know, they have that whole standard for blocks or so people can begin to understand it. I...

...think that we also could look at, Gosh, you know, the EU and what they've done with their agreements and where they're moving. So begin with the research, begin with the examples, maybe have a virtual guest speaker on the topic. And with your it department as well as your academic leadership, as well as the registrars office, you know the register at the university. It's not their favorite job handling all the transcripts. So but you know they want to make sure it's done credibly. But but they may be, you know, willing players in this whole process. Right. Thanks so much of your time today. What's the best place for listeners to connect with you they have any follow up questions? Sure you can just Ray Schroder at GMAILCOM and I'll get right back to you. I think that's probably it. Otherwise, I have a Ray Schroder dicom. Yeah, all run together site and that that hands all the links as one of my free blogs that people can follow what what I'm sharing on these topics. He is always a good read and always a great mind. Thanks against so much for joining us today. Ray. Thank you. Attracting today's new post traditional learners means adopting new enrollment strategies. Helix educations data driven, enterprise wide approach to enrollment growth is uniquely helping colleges and universities thrive in this new education landscape, and Helix has just published the second edition of their enrollment growth playbook with fifty percent brand new content on how institutions can solve today's most pressing enrollment growth challenges, downloaded today for free at Helix educationcoms playbook. You've been listening to enrollment growth university from Helix Education to ensure that you never miss an episode, subscribe to the shown itunes or...

...your favorite podcast player. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time,.

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