When it comes to practical applications for NFTs, the crypto and blockchain-based sector has only started to explore the vast potential it offers the world. One of the many sectors where these could have practical added value is in education. In this article, we explore the potential of NFTs for the education industry.
As you’ve no doubt heard, NFTs (Non-fungible tokens) are a way of buying and selling tangible and intangible assets. When a piece of digital art — a composite piece of 50 drawings (created by the artist, Mike Winklemann, also known for “Beeple”) — sold for $68m at Christie’s, it made headlines around the world.
When a YouTube video, ‘Charlie Bit My Finger’, sold for $683,000 through an NFT, it also made headlines. In total, an impressive $168 million has been spent on NFTs since 2017, and that number keeps rising. NFTs are how creators and owners of tangible and intangible assets are starting to sell and monetize them.
However, when it comes to other uses, such as NFTs for the education industry, we need to consider the various use cases, the value NFTs can create, and how NFTs could change education?
What are NFTs?
NFTs are Non-Fungible Tokens, which are inherently different from “fungible” tokens, such as Bitcoin and other forms of cryptocurrency. When a token or cryptocurrency/coin is “fungible” it means it can be replaced — bought, sold or exchanged — with something else, usually of equal value. Which means 1 Bitcoin (BTC) can be bought for the current value of approximately $54,000 (USD$).
When a token, such as a coin or blockchain-based method for buying or selling something (such as a piece of art, a video, sneakers, even property) is “Non-Fungible”, it means whatever the asset is, it can’t be replaced with something else. It is unique. An NFT — and therefore whatever asset the NFT is connected to — is forever connected to that unique asset.
At the highest level, NFTs are built on Ethereum, the blockchain-based network that supports them and makes them work. Ethereum is the technology backbone of countless other projects, assets, and the layer which enables things such as ICOs, IPOs, and now, NFTs.
Although Ethereum (ETH) is a cryptocurrency, similar to Bitcoin and thousands of others, the open-source code which makes it work can be configured differently, depending on various requirements. In this case, the blockchain-based technology ensures that NFTs are unique, and therefore aren’t “fungible”; can’t be changed.
NFTs have their own unique digital signature, like a fingerprint, and these details are confirmed, verified and authenticated on a publicly accessible blockchain. None of these recorded details can be changed in any way. Only the owner of an NFT can change, once a transaction is confirmed and authenticated on that same blockchain.
Each NFT acts as a unique token, and can’t be exchanged for anything else, even when they are bought and sold (paid for) using various cryptocurrencies or fiat currencies (e.g. USD$, GBP£, etc.). Although Ethereum is the most popular blockchain for NFTs, other crypto/blockchain-based networks are starting to implement their own version of NFTs, containing the same properties.
Now we have covered what NFTs are, let’s take a closer look at NFTs for the education industry.
Benefits of NFTs for the education industry
Teachers at every level — from K through to 12 — and professors and tutors in colleges and universities want lessons to be engaging, useful, and encourage learning. School leaders need to achieve objectives, add value, and provide the best environment possible to support students.
How can NFTs and education work together?
Five years ago, many in the financial services sector couldn’t imagine Blockchain, or anything from the crypto sector playing a role in banking, finance, insurance, or lending. Fast forward a few years, and blockchain-based projects and applications (such as dApps) are playing increasingly integral roles in the layers of technology that make the traditional financial sector work.
We can expect the same when it comes to NFTs and blockchain in education. Let’s consider the following benefits and use cases for NFTs and education.
Schools constantly need to raise more money. There is never enough to ensure children have the best education possible. NFTs could play a useful role in the fundraising process, especially when trying to attract funding and donations from the crypto sector, and as crypto and blockchain-based transaction methods become more popular.
#2: Art and music
As we have seen amongst creators, NFTs are becoming a mainstream way to monetize every form of art. From paintings to music and videos. Schools and art colleges could benefit from this, with the growth of digital art galleries and NFT-based music platforms.
#3: Records and transcripts
Records, transcripts and school reports are as valuable as medical records. They need to be kept and made secure, especially with threats such as data theft from schools.
One of the best ways to keep these records secure would be to verify and authenticate them on blockchain-based technology. Using an NFT for this purpose would ensure they couldn’t be tampered with, changed, or stolen.
What if something educational needs more than one person to access/own?
In the education sector, a single NFT could provide a substantial amount of funding, if sold at the right price. However, if schools wanted numerous parents and others to contribute to this funding, then there needs to be a way for multiple contributors.
The same applies when we consider school records and transcripts, or reports from schools. When parents aren’t together, giving both parents and any other guardians and others access to those records is often essential.
That’s where F-NFTs (Fractionalized Non-Fungible Tokens) play a role. F-NFTs allow for multiple people to own or access a complete NFT. Decentralized Organizations (DAOs) play an integral role in the management and ownership structure of an F-NFT.
One way that asset owners and creators can benefit even more from F-NFTs is when the DEIP Protocol is launched. DEIP is a series of blockchain-based protocols, tools and applications for the creative economy, specifically for those wanting to monetize digital assets through F-NFTs.
F-NFTs make NFTs more accessible, which is something schools and the education sector could find extremely useful.