The platform
The long-term aim is to realize a decentralized blockchain-based education infrastructure accessible to anyone in the world, operating under an open source license for the commons. The term for such an organization is a Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO). Key benefits of choosing such an infrastructure are user-benefits like peer-to-peer connections, new forms of governance, more control over your own data and other important properties like neutral, secure, flexible and accessible.
But how does this look like? Those that come to learn will create an account which will be linked to an identity on the blockchain that the user itself fully owns. Once logged in on Koios, a learner will see a tailor-made, personalized environment showing everything from personal details to accomplishments. A social-network interface will give the learner access to educational material, other students, teachers, professionals and other participants in the network. The learner can for example choose who he/she interacts with, what education he/she will start and what data he/she is willing to share.

‌What's possible?

Those that wish to educate will find a similar environment. A personalized interface showing their skills, track-records, collaborations, documentation, papers, etc. For example teachers will be able to engage with learners, promote their lectures and increase their reach, improve their skills and knowledge, and connect on a peer-to-peer level on glocal scale.
The role of universities remains pretty similar though: they still remain to facilitate in the offline and blended learning process by for example offering the facilities, like locations and digital learning systems like Osiris and Blackboard. Or by offering the supporting services that are needed to accredit programs. This time though they will additionally have the opportunity to innovate and experiment in an open online environment, enabling the benefits like increased reach, improved flexibility and cooperation within learning communities that incorporate for example field experts. An open infrastructure will allow us for testing solutions to all of the previously mentioned challenges and because this can happen on a large (international) scale, costs of innovation and experimentation may prove to be lower and happen much faster than they currently are.
Gamification of education By using blockchain technology, KOIOS ensures that users control their own data and progress will immutably be stored on a secure ledger. Moreover, blockchain technology enables gamification of education and add for example game theory elements / mechanism design principles in the educational mix. It would become possible for learners and tutors to transact tokens and badges amongst each other in order to improve study behaviour respectively to build up a reputation. Thanks to the open environment, interoperable with other educational ecosystems in other regions and even other countries.
Shared ledger with regional spin-offs Important aspect of open public blockchain technology is that the data ownership remains with the user and that we build in an open source environment that enables local spin-offs. Others can defect from our route where and when desired, this way we won’t project our cultural and regional biases on others and will users have increased freedom of choice per region. Entities, like commercial parties or private investors, may invest by using shared income agreements in for example learners, teachers or course developments or can more quickly gain access to talent. Transparency and automatic compliance in advance throughout the ecosystem will also help learners display their achievements, potentially connecting them to employers more quickly and efficiently. We are confident that by creating a personalized environment on a secure ledger, a wide range of experiments can be initiated and many challenges educational institutes face may find a solution.
Validation experiments Because of the online nature of KOIOS, individuals from all over the world will have access to this environment. Low operational costs ensure a low financial barrier to entry and participants can communicate amongst each other easily in an online communication environment. By collaborating with other institutes, we can also ensure physical environments that enable physical learning activities, community gatherings and testing learners, which are needed for the crucial part of validating individual achievements. We aim to enable universities to reward learners with a certificate that is connected to their regional official accreditation processes that traditional institutes have, like a digital THUAS micro-certificate, plus digital personal validated badges that are provided by the local lecturers as well as non-validated badges that are automatically provided by the online tools and learning communities.
Such a combination of certification, with official micro-certificates and different types of validated and non-validated badges, allows for traditional institutes to experiment with online certification. On the other hand, an open online infrastructure like KOIOS can benefit from the credibility, experience and reputation that local universities have. Combining the best of both worlds
The player is initially built for the smallest imaginable screen of our users. This makes it suitable for the mobile phone, as well as for all the larger type of screens like desktops. In addition, it is designed as game controller, where you can operate extra buttons with your left and right thumb. For example, when you open the left menu, you will see various buttons appear in which you can determine the subtitles, the background noise and the speed of videos. If you use the right side, you open a kind of "pause menu" in which you temporarily pause the player and, for example, access settings. Both the left and right buttons are currently being redesigned, as a result of tests outcomes from first experiments with the current Blockchain Minor student groups. One of the strengths of the player is that it is continuously tested and iterated on the basis of points of improvement submitted by students and other users. As for the main screen, you currently see three areas. A screen at the top left to play the video, the slides of the video below and a note field on the right. Soon the literature and an overview of the lesson structure will be added, which are now tucked away as an option in the pause menu. The lesson structure allows you to easily switch between the micro-clips and possibly compile your own route, the literature is fully integrated in the player and, in addition to the reading material, also directly links to all sources used.
Flexibility & Personalisation We strive for an inclusive learning experience where user-friendliness and personalisation are very important to us. An example: the screens can be adjusted as desired. By clicking on the green hand in the middle you can adjust the screen sizes, but you can also click on the hand and swipe it on your screen. This way you can adjust it to your own personal wishes. Fun fact: our logo and the player are heavily intertwined with each other, as you will later on be able to adjust the KOIOS logo just as you are able to adjust the player to your own personalised settings. Research has shown that the more control a student has, the more engaged he/she is with the platform. Besides the fact that the main screen is flexible, the routes you can take in the player are flexible as well. Not only within the Blockchain Minor are different routes available, but with two short clicks you can directly switch to an entirely different course. Suppose, for example, as a blockchain minor student that you’d like to know more about cyber security, learn how to write code, or how to trade digital assets…you can already directly switch to these other courses, starting from September 2020. And many more courses coming up this year 😊!
The next steps! A convenient thing about this player, is not only that everything is openly connected, but because you are logged in to a blockchain based identity, this allows us to send you badges and tokens directly after completing a short knowledge clip or a task. You can use this same identity in the offline lessons provided by your local tutor of the regional institution where you study. They can even send you officially validated badges, as long as you have gone through the official validation processes such as passing a test. In this way you create a unique study portfolio where you can choose the subjects yourself. Recorded in a data profile and associated reputation that you master yourself and that you will soon be able to connect to the other tools such as the community forum & chat, but also to the network connection tool SYNC. See the other explanatory videos for more information about these tools and their status. TLDR: the prototypes of the other tools are under construction and we expect to be able to link them to the player within 2020 so that we can jointly take this educational experiment to the next level!

The content uploader

The open learning infrastructure is not only meant for Learners. Another important role is reserved for a role we call the “Content Creators”. Often active as a teacher, researcher and / or as a field specialist, these are the experts in their field.
They have multiple tools available, like the player to access content, the forum tool that links to discussing teaching materials and the chat tool which links to the open learning communities. But as a “Content Creator”, one tool is of particular importance. A tool we call the “Uploader”. In your role as creator of educational material, you can approach this tool, which currently still is in prototype phase. Via this tool, everyone will be able to either upload original stand-alone content, like a certain topic or even an entire course, or you could provide improvement suggestions for already existing content.
Connection with the Player The uploader is connected with the player, so your content ends up in the player. If you want to end up in officially validated curricula where people earn for example ECT’s, the responsible teacher from that institution or even a panel depending on the approach needs to approve your upload before integrating / accepting it in their course. On the one hand, this means new available validated and unvalidated courses. On the other hand, this also means that current courses can easily be improved or supplemented with for example relevant developments for that particular topic. We aim to make this upload process as simple as possible: you just click on the button and go through the user-friendly steps of the content process. So to be sure once more: how do you guarantee quality? If you want to be included in the curriculum of validated education, like for example in one of the Bachelor programs at THUAS, you will have to go through various standardised checks of that particular institution. This will be done in collaboration with the local teachers and their educational support services of the curriculum in which you would like to be integrated. If you are already a teacher yourself and are working at such an institutions, this entire process is a bit simpler. You know the routes and you can go through the standard procedures for ensuring your quality of the material and the spot in the curriculum. This luxury of one lecturer knowing all the answers is not always the cause though, nor desired, and often depends on the complexity of the subject or the necessity to connect with others to secure the quality of the content. Very small topics could be done by a single lecturer, but like with our blockchain course for example this was not desired, hence in the course of time we formulated an informal panel of lecturers, researchers, field specialists and public and private national and international organisations. Currently still centrally secured by the responsible lecturer of the course, but soon to be more decentralised.
New routes Each university could follow our way of doing things at the THUAS in The Hague, but could also do it their own way like the ATU does in Accra. This does result in different micro-certificates and badges for each region and is sometimes not desired. Like is the case with our collaboration with the national board of finance & control programs “LOOFC”, where we eventually expect to form panels of multiple universities that decide the standard per topic together resulting in interchangeable certificates and badges. But still with room for regional nuances. Work together, specialise or do a hybrid? The beauty: it is all up to the responsible entity providing the certificates or badges to determine this for their selves.
Upload on other open platforms as well! Fun fact: you don’t always need to upload the content via KOIOS. It is merely important for us that the content is uploaded in an open environment, like via our own servers, but multiple others like YouTube will do fine as well. Once more: this all depends on the Content Creator and their vision. Do note: an upload on a private environment like Blackboard is not suitable, because Learners would need to log in and in the of private learning environments like Blackboard, not everyone is allowed nor able to do this, resulting in for example a lack of reach of non-student Learners.
The process & challenge! For validated education it is important that quality and level are demonstrated. In this automated process, you will be asked, for example, what your teaching objectives are, what the levels are and how you test these, including the test matrix, which curriculum it ends up in, etc. Also particularly important: which competences are achieved according to which framework? And with what type of badges would you like to reward? Despite the fact that this is all technically possible now, this process naturally raises various fundamental educational challenges which we must jointly investigate and answer with collaborations between educational institutions and field partners.
However, we now have an unprecedented luxury that we can immediately test it, just like the player and other tools, and iterate in closed sandbox / test environments such as out THUAS minors. Even failing in this process we still have learned a lot about innovating education!
Last modified 15d ago