Arizona State University Tasks Itself with Building a Blockchain Using SalesForce for Exchange of Academic Records


The opportunities for application of blockchain technology are almost limitless and every sector can find a need or two that will be significantly solved using blockchain technology. The education sectors in many countries have deployed several blockchain solutions and according to recent reports the Arizona State University has just joined in.

The institution is currently working on building a platform powered by blockchain technology where several community colleges and universities can easily share specific student records to improve their individual activities.

Specifically, the platform will be used to properly verify a student's eligibility to be awarded an associate’s degree which is a degree after a high school diploma but before a bachelor’s. Currently, the process of verification and tracking, known as reverse transfer, is a very cumbersome one. One reason for this is that private data cannot be shared between these institutions without the students’ permission.

Furthermore, these different institutions use their own specific codes and formats, which make it difficult for the receiving institution to figure out the codes, what they mean and the equivalent according to their own curriculum.

To solve this problem, Arizona State through the university’s central enterprise unit, EdPlus, has partnered with Salesforce, a Cloud software firm. This is to create a new blockchain powered platform to allow these institutions exchange student data and verify records using formats understandable by everyone.

In addition, the blockchain platform is expected to be “bi-directional”. This would directly ensure that the community college where the student transferred from would still receive records and progress reports after they have enrolled in Arizona State.

According to Donna Kidwell, the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) at Edplus, there was no proper way for this information to be exchanged and the situation deteriorated so much that certain community colleges were unaware about the enrolment of some of students in Arizona State. Kidwell said:

“We want to optimise those pathways back and forth between us and facilitate conversations with faculty on both sides so that we can support students who are creating their own path towards a degree.”

She further added that this exchange of information and tracking of student progress will also help all the individual institutions and other universities to create better programs and courses fine-tuned to help the students with better options.

The use of blockchain is expected to go further than exchanging student data but also to help students receive the associate's degree on-time with the hope that it will motivate them to further education.

According to Ted Bland, a reverse transfer coordinator for the Maricopa community college district in Arizona, blockchain will help simplify their currently difficult and time-consuming process of manually trying to review each student's records to figure out whether or not they're taking the requisite courses for particular degrees. He said:

“Blockchain is going to be the future of academic records. The technology would certainly provide for greater fluidity. It will also allow students to own their own academic records.”

Christopher Rice, a partner at another consulting firm has however stated that other universities might be reluctant to start using a system developed in Arizona State. He however thinks the state can make it work especially with other institutions elsewhere if it's ready to “face questions about sustainability, management and ownership of the information and technology, as well as the challenge of mapping knowledge from different courses at different institutions.”

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