Universities experiment more and more with new digital forms of validation. Each university has a slightly different approach and test environment, but often with similar aims like increasing study behaviour, creating a better reflection of acquired competencies or increasing flexibility. The Koios project contains similar validation experiments, but applies a blockchain based approach and therefore experiments with “Tokens” and “Badges”.
A bit of blockchain background
Tokens & badges are enabled by blockchain technology. Block….what?! Blockchains, a digital ledger that records value with no intermediary. To keep it simple: where the internet is used to transfer and share information, blockchains are used to transfer and share digital values between peers.
Digital value can take many forms, like the digital Bitcoin for example, but also these so-called “tokens” and “badges” which could represent certain efforts and competencies. The difference between a token and a badge is that a token is transferable and therefore fungible, as where a badge is non-transferrable (non-fungible). You could therefore compare tokens with pocket money in your wallet. A badge however can only be sent once and is therefore uniquely tied to one person. You could therefore compare a badge with earned medals to be pinned on a boy scouts uniform. The boy scout would therefore have a wallet with cash to exchange with others (= tokens) and his uniform that represents his skills and level (= badge).
In the blockchain realm this boy scout is represented by something that we call a “public-private key pair”. As you might use a mail address to interact via the web, you use this so-called key pair to interact on the blockchain. As pairs do, they come in two: the “private” key is your personal password and the “public” key is the publicly available representation of that person to the outside world (just as on the internet, this public representation can also be pseudonymous or anonymous). A private key is needed to access the public key, as sort of a personal key on a lock where the private key is the key and the public key is the lock. The public key can for example be used for receiving tokens and badges. You can visualise the public key as the mailbox, the private key as a personal key to that mailbox.
You will receive your very own public-private key pair at Koios and we will teach you how. With that key you can now receive your tokens to be spend on multiple opportunities as well as your hard earned badges which represent some of your gained skills. Important final note: in the blockchain realm and at Koios, the key pair is fully owned and therefore controlled by the person and not an intermediary.
Main goal of our token & badge efforts
We aim to use tokens & badges as a mechanism to stimulate certain desired behavior per different user role. There are different tokens for different type of users, and for students we use the “Titan-Token”. Named after Koios, the Greek Titan of Knowledge and Inquisitive mind. We use tokens and badges to incentivize individual investments such as time or knowledge per actor (student), which lead to collective returns for the ecosystem of all actors (happy classroom). A student wining a quiz or sharing knowledge can now be rewarded with tokens by his lecturer respectively fellow students! Or companies can now find your specialised blockchain or trading skills, because of a badge that you have earned. It is important to realise though that we are still in the “testing phase”!
How do we use tokens (2021)
Micro-certificates in an unforgeable credential verification system
Incentivization and rewarding mechanisms during class (test Titans, which act as play money but are redeemable for real values)
Incentivization and rewarding mechanisms in the community (Titans, governance and co-ownership)
The end goal of this token constellation is to create a sustainable ecosystem which facilitates the empowerment of participating members and entities, and realizes education as a common. There is multitude of new business models available, a few are tested succesfully in small experiments, but none will be officially launched till we, the tech, the legal framework and ecosystem participants are ready. Good examples of sustainable ecosystems are out there, like Bitcoin being the first example. The era for education seems to be entering the realm as well, with examples like Kernel and possible automated sustainable business models for free learning.