The blockchain technology is an ingenious creation, the brainchild of a mysterious entity known by the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto, who founded Bitcoin in January 2009. Since then, blockchain has evolved into what is today termed as the ‘new magic technology’ that fundamentally solves trust issues. But what is blockchain and what does it mean to online training? Don & Alex Tapscott, the authors of Blockchain Revolution define blockchain as “an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions,
but virtually everything of value.” In simple words, it is a huge database, which is open and decentralized, and allows people to make transactions of value, such as ownership of land, money, and certificates, without involving middlemen such as the government, or banks.
The Concept of Blockchain as Google Docs
Traditionally, a document is shared when you send a Microsoft word document to a recipient, asking for a revision. The problem with this scenario is that you will have to wait until the recipient returns the document so you can make further changes. Basically, you are locked out of editing the document until the recipient is done with it and sends it back to you.
However, with google docs, both users have access to a single version of that document at the same time. The document is shared between the two users, and it’s termed as distributed when the sharing involves several people. This is the concept of blockchain, just better. Since there is no centralized server, blockchain technology stores identical blocks of information across its network of decentralized computers. So, several people can access a particular block of information at the same time. However, since the transactions are in a public ledger, no one can alter an entry without detection, and this improves data security and prevents conflicting information.
Blockchain in Online Training Context
In December 2015, The Open University published a report proposing the implementation of the blockchain technology in online learning and development. According to the author, if we think of learning as an educational currency, then we can create better modes of communication with learners.
For example, you can develop interactive learning chunks, and position them as blocks on the blockchain, using a mining-like mechanism. The learners would then discover and expand on these chunks. Using these micro learning chunks, you can train your employees anytime and anywhere in the world as long as they are connected to these decentralized machines.
This technology can also be used to broadcast learners’ training history and achievements on a public ledger where everyone can see. While this reduces the cost of protecting learners’ data, it also improves security since no one can hack a blockchain. You can then use this learning timeline to project upcoming learning and development plans according to the learning history of your learners.
Blockchain can also be used as a peer to peer data exchange medium that rewards learners who contribute and share information about any topic that is beneficial to the organization. This way, you can support peer to peer training among the employees.
In conclusion, blockchain technology is more than a financial innovation, and Bitcoin is one of the most viable innovations rather than just a currency. Applying this technology in learning and development programs can cost-effectively improve organizational processes.