Greece’s national research and education network, GRNET, is collaborating with IOHK, a blockchain research and development firm. The collaboration is on a pilot project to authenticate student diplomas on Cardano, a blockchain that debuted in September.
The project is important since it is the first official use case of Cardano. It is an IOHK-developed proof-of-stake cryptocurrency and soon-to-be smart contract platform. Enterprise Cardano, a private or permissioned ledger version of Cardano, will build the GRNET app.
In contrast to a public blockchain, which allows anybody to join and participate, a private blockchain permits only a limited number of users to confirm block transactions.
Three Greek universities now obtained involvement in the initiative. While IOHK is in charge of the decentralized database, GRNET is in charge of the online front end and support. As well as bringing other universities involved in the pilot together. Horizon 2020, a European program for research and innovation, contributes to the project’s funding.
According to Aggelos Kiayias, IOHK’s principal scientist, development of the prototype is already underway.
Given IOHK’s extensive ties to academia, it’s no surprise that the corporation involves in a project involving colleges. But why do we need diplomas?
The need for paper disappears by putting diplomas on a blockchain, not to mention the ease of checking if someone has a degree. When a student graduates, they usually receive a paper copy of the diploma, signed by the dean and co-signed by the registrar of the institution. The university’s unified database houses all the students’ transcripts and records.
An employer must check the official diploma or call the university to establish that a graduate has the degree they claim to have. Because of the time-consuming nature of the process, it is all too easy for unqualified applicants to slip through the cracks.
According to Kiayias, putting documents and records on the blockchain reduces the risk of fraud. This is by allowing graduates and universities to offer irrefutable proof that a qualification exists. This is a point of reference that everyone can agree on.
Proof for Cryptographic
Instead of putting a whole diploma on the blockchain, GRNET aims to place only a cryptographic hash of a diploma. This is on the blockchain to protect student privacy. Digital documents are simple to manipulate in ways that go undetected by the naked eye.
However, the digital version provided to an employer hashes to the same output as the blockchain version. Then the document is the original, unaltered form.
Diplomas and transcripts are personal information; thus, we can’t publish any plaintext on the blockchain. In an email to Bitcoin Magazine, Panos Louridas, GRNET consultant and associate professor at Athens University of Economics and Business, said that they only put hashes and may put entire diplomas and transcripts, but all of them will always have encryption.
This isn’t the first time that degrees have been stored on the blockchain. In October, MIT revealed its own blockchain-based pilot project to verify digital degrees. The GRNET pilot, however, differs from previous efforts. According to Louridas, in that it keeps the whole chain of verification procedures on the blockchain.
Each step would be recorded as a separate immutable transaction on a blockchain block.