Malta is the first country to launch a blockchain initiative which will see it issue notarised blockchain certificates to complement paper certificates for professional and informal education, the government announced today.
|Because you had no idea where Malta is, did you.|
Malta is teaming up with Learning Machine, a group we've heard about before. Learning Machine has some big ideas about turning out educated people like you manufacture toasters, or "decoupling" education from any sort of institution, and of creating a whole new credentialling system. That blockchain concept they talk about is the same idea behind bitcoins, the digitized currency that was going to totally do away with money.
Here are some of the things that Natalie Smolenski, "Cultural Anthropologist & Dedicated Account Manager at Learning Machine," had to say to explain the high concept here.
Because skills are only meaningful in social context, any given classification of skill is a provisional judgment of pragmatic value within an economy in which such values can be productively leveraged and exchanged. Moreover, because the kind of skill that credentials record is at root a unit of value that has been conferred to a particular individual or entity by another, it can be recorded in any ledger that records transactions of values.
Your value as a meat widget will be determined by how valuable someone else says your skill set is.
Not only will the shift toward a standardized, competency-based credentialing system allow us to address the social question of what constitutes skill with some consistency and reliability, but it will also decouple credentials from any particular institutional arrangement, in particular the over-reliance on university degrees as arbiters of skill.
In this brave new world, we will standardize everything, including what a particular skill is or means, and we'll never need schools again. You just log on, watch some video, take a test. Boom-- badge!
Everyone will have standardized credentials that follow them around digitally, and employers and managers will never actually have to deal with other humans face to face again. We'll just be able to open a file, look at your list of badges, and no exactly what work you are capable of. Human resource departments will be able to shop for the exact employees they want like a meat widget amazon.com, because of course every skill set in human experience can be reduced to a set of simple standardized badges.
It's a scheme that is so insanely at odds with how human beings actually function that you may find it hard to believe that it's popular among a certain class of people (exactly the kind of big, important people who would never agree that their own special skill sets can be reduced to some competency-based standardized badges). Here's one company's version of it called the ledger. Lumina is working on it (in fact, one of the big practical problems of blockchain CBE is going to be a VHS vs. Betamax problem of which company will dominate the field, because this only really works if everyone is in the same system). This is out there, and while I would like to believe that it will collapse under the weight of its own foolish disregard for how human beings live, learn and work, it is exactly the sort of thing that the Captains of Industry would love to forcibly impose on the plebes.
And now they have an entire nation as a proof of concept test. True, a small nation, but still-- a nation has ceded their education system to this corporate scheme. The European Union is watching how Malta manages to place education credentials in the blockchain, for full access and portability. The Netherlands and Estonia are exploring this stuff. Certificates are expected to be issued by the end of the year.
“Blockchain gives us the opportunity to ensure that every Maltese citizen take ownership of their educational credentials,”said the education ministry, which highlights another aspect of this version of CBE-- idoesn't just privatize education, but it gets government completely out of the education work altogether. Congratulations, citizen-- your education is now your problem, and yours alone.
Three Maltese colleges – the Malta College for Art, Science and Technology (MCAST), the Institute for Tourism Studies (ITS) and the National Commission for Further and Higher Education (NCFHE) –wil be granting certificates based on the new CBE system. I hope everyone at those institutions is polishing their resume, because they will soon be unnecessary.
Of course, this could fail spectacularly and Learning Machine will slink away in ruined disgrace and oh, who am I kidding-- there is too much money to be made here in this wholesale depersonalization of education. Whatever happens, they will spin this as a win. Pay attention-- this is not the end of this.