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Blockchains for Higher Education: Experiments, Opportunities and Challenges

Venue: Birkbeck Main Building

Blockchains are best known as the technological underpinning for the Bitcoin cryptocurrency highlighted for its potential to revolutionise the financial world. For example, World Economic Forum survey in 2015 found that those polled believe that there will be a tipping point for the government use of blockchain by 2023. The reach of blockchain technology, however, will go beyond the financial sector, through the use of ‘smart contracts’ which allow business and legal agreements to be stored and executed online.

At the Open University we have been conducting experiments in deploying blockchains in OU courses. In this talk I will cover how we have been using blockchains to manage micro-accreditation (including badging), ePortfolios and peer accreditation in a variety of settings. I will also outline our initiatives to setup national and international blockchain networks and how blockchains could herald the emergence of Uber-style universities.

An overview of our work can be found at


Prof. John Domingue is the Director of the Knowledge Media Institute at The Open University and the President of STI International, a semantics focused networking organization. He has published over 250 refereed articles in the areas of Semantics and the Web and his current work is focused on: the relationship between Linked Data, rich media, the Future Internet and education; supporting personal wellbeing and health through wearable sensors and semantic technologies and how blockchains, the technology underpinning crypto-currencies like Bitcoin can enhance educational value eco systems.
He currently serves as: the OU representative to W3C; the Chair of the Steering Committee for the ESWC Conference Series and the Project Coordinator for the European funded European Data Science Academy. From 2008-2012 he served as a member of the Future Internet Assembly Steering Committee which helped coordinate the activities of over 150 EU projects with a combined budget of over 500M Euros. He is a founder and Director of the ESWC Summer School and serves on the editorial board for the Applied Ontology Journal.

More details of his work can be found at:; twitter @johndmk

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