Introduction to Cardano (ADA) Part 11

Three generations of cryptocurrencies. Introduction to Cardano ADA. Part 11. Cardano case study. Cardano blockchain vs MIT blockchain.


The rate of change in the world is constantly accelerating and to succeed in their fields, professionals need to be learning and updating their skills all the time, yet there is currently no meaningful way to have one official academic record that combines degrees, certificates, experiences and achievements.

If an emergency happens, such as a flood, fire, or an earthquake, and a person loses his or her diplomas, there’s often no way for the person to prove who they are easily.

Storing information about diplomas, grades and graduation information on a private blockchain could eliminate the opportunity for errors and fraud and make the process of verification of educational credentials and grades fast, easy and efficient. This is what Cardano and GRNET want to accomplish as a result of their cooperation.

Putting information about someone’s education online can raise privacy concerns. For example, a doctor may want to participate in an online forum or a community without disclosing the fact that he or she is a doctor to avoid other members of the community asking for medical advice. The same may apply to any other professionals, including lawyers, engineers, and teachers. For this reason, Cardano and GRNET are planning to make only the cryptographic hash of diplomas available on the blockchain. As of January 2018, they haven’t decided if they are going to include all the diploma-relation information into a blockchain, but if they do, it will all be encrypted.

GRNET’s blockchain is going to be private (as opposed to public). With public blockchains, such as Bitcoin, Ethereum and others, anybody can download network software, a full copy of the blockchain or participate in the creation of new blocks on the blockchain. A private blockchain can impose restrictions on any of these elements. With diplomas, there’s no need for public to be able to create blocks of the blockchain. As of the beginning of January of 2018, the project had Cardano was working with three Greek Universities.

The project is not the first attempt to store education-related information on a blockchain network. For example (source for the example: MIT News, ), in the summer of 2017, 111 graduates of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology had an option of getting their diplomas not just in the traditional paper format, but also via an app on their smartphones in addition to paper. The app was a result of a partnership between MIT and a company called Learning Machine (both MIT and Learning Machine are based in Cambridge, Massachusetts). The name of the app was Blockcerts Wallet. Using the app, graduates would be able to quickly prove to their employers that they went to the MIT. The primary goal of the MIT for the project was to allow its graduates to be in control of their records and choose with whom and when they share the information.

When creating the Blockcerts, Learning Machine used the same blockchain as the Bitcoin uses, including the same cryptography algorithm (SHA-256), but applied it to the storage and verification of academic and employment credentials.

Just like Satoshi Nakamoto made Bitcoin Core open source, Learning Machine and the MIT have made Blockcerts open source.

To send and receive funds with a wallet on the Bitcoin blockchain, a user on the Bitcoin network needs two keys, a public key and a private key. The engineers at Learning Machine realized early on in the development process that telling users of Blockcerts to download software on a computer and then generate a public key and a private key would be too much to ask. For this reason, Learning Machine created the Blockcerts app. The app generates both keys and sends the public key to the school. During the 2017 pilot, the school was the MIT, but because the software is open-source, any school can use it. At the MIT, the Office of the Registrar would create a digital record but would not add the diploma to the blockchain for privacy reasons. Instead, it would encrypt student’s public key into a digital version of the diploma, add a record to the blockchain about the creation of the digital version, and, finally, email the digital version to the student in the form of a JavaScript Object Notation file.

Later, employers or anyone else could upload the file to a special portal and immediately receive a verification response. The portal would locate the identification record of the digital diploma on the blockchain, verify the key and confirm that the diploma is valid.

The MIT and Learning Machine see creation of a blockchain that would allow stacking of certificates from various schools and institutions as the logical continuation of Blockcerts.

To validate this idea, Learning Machine has used blockchain technology to issue a certificate of employment to all of its employees.

The difference between the MIT/Learning Machine project and the collaboration between the IOHK and the GRNET is that IOHK plans to use blockchain for all the verifications steps.