In de media: Tjipcast

Medio juni 2020 heb ik over blockchain en onderwijs mogen praten met Tjip de Jong voor zijn Tjipcast. Deze is zowel te vinden op Tjips eigen website als op

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Artikel op ICTheek

‘Als u weet wat blockchain is, steek dan uw hand omhoog’, stelt Wim Pelgrim, docent Nederlands en Literatuur aan het Dr. Knippenbergcollege in Helmond, tijdens zijn presentatie op 5 februari op IPON. Enkele twijfelachtige handen gaan de lucht in. ‘Als u weet wat bitcoin is, doe dan uw hand omhoog’. Vol overtuiging steekt de zaal gezamenlijk de hand op. Daarmee introduceert Pelgrim Blockchange, de cijferlijst van de toekomst, waarmee fraude met cijfers onmogelijk wordt.

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All your skills in your own hand

OMO Scholengroep Helmond innovates with digital badges

This article is a translation and was first published in Van12tot18 of December 2019. You can publish this article with a reference to Vermeulen, P. (2019). Alles wat je in je mars hebt in je eigen hand. Van12tot18, 29(12), 30-31.

All your skills , competencies and experiences neatly combined in a digital safe to which only you have the key; and only you decide who can see which part of your portfolio and when. Fully GDRP proof! OMO Scholengroep Helmond has recently completed a very appealing pilot and is now going live with students to test the application. Young people will benefit from this innovation for the rest of their lives.

“We have been working on it in Helmond for a number of years,” says Wim Pelgrim, teacher but above all digital pioneer and educational innovator. “ Student results are now scattered across all kinds of sources. That needed improvement: safely in their own hands. We also see that a certain type of student finds it difficult to sell themselves to a potential employer. That’s why we will start this project with students of the Praktijkschool Helmond, a school for students with an IQ between 55 and 80. Telling what they have to offer is often a bridge too far for them.”

Open Badges and blockchain

Youngsters who participate will have access to an easy phone app. A safe in which data is collected from all kinds of applications that are used within the school. Today, students already have a lot of data about themselves, but they rarely know about it. That data is visualized via Open Badges. “Consider the badges we know from scouting,” Wim explains. “On the uniform of a scout you see all kinds of insignia that tell something about the skills: for example, you can see at a glance that someone can tie good knots or has followed a course with the fire department. Also everyone from Amsterdam, Singapore or Paris can understand these logos. An efficient system that we are now digitizing for our students.”

We work with the Open Badges standard. Think of our project with badges that state: Collaboration level 3 , forklift truck certificate , English level B1 . You name it, the possibilities are endless. School subjects, competencies, skills… And if a dean, career counselor or employer  wants to know more about a specific performance  , they can simply click the badge. ”

The project team guards against uncontrolled usage and – more importantly – gives high priority to the safety of the innovation. Thanks to a combination of open standards and blockchain technology , this is an extremely reliable system. As the owner of the portfolio, you cannot independently add all sorts of badges or raise levels. Every badge has a kind of digital fingerprint that is stored on blockchain, so the parties involved can verify the authenticity of the information. And moreover, the system has no central storage , and is thus fully compliant with the GDPR.

Insight into your talent

Pupils can use their badges to share information with, for example, an employer, who has temporary access to (a part of) the safe. Wim: “What we are doing is unique in the Netherlands. A uniform standard with which students can go to another school or employers. An ideal starting point for conversations. Not to mention all the latent skills: many students do not even see how much they have grown. A mark for an exam is very specific, but how strong are your social skills, for example? Or your problem-solving capacity? We will help with one clear standard by means of  which everything is clearly presented. “

It is great that we can help the students of the Praktijkschool Helmond with it, but this system works for a much wider target group. Consider the international benefits. Suppose a Chinese student comes here to study at Fontys University for a year. How do you check his past? Maybe he designed his own degree, in an extreme case. With our standard you build in safety. Just show us your past!” The system encourages lifelong learning. Childcare information? Calculation application used in primary school? Secondary school portfolio software? Did you take a relevant course or did you follow additional training? Have a performance interview? Super: new badges.

“For us, it is about much more than just exchanging information about the profile of a student. Our students are not  consciously working on their future. They only see the here and now, today. It is important for them to experience that present skills  are taken to the next step in your life: your working career. You are aware that it has value. You can show badges in your app to an employer: look what I can do. “Wow, are you already on collaboration level 2? And how can we get to 3 here?” Our competencies and those of Senzer have been brought in line, more than ever we will soon be speaking the same language. At Senzer, for example, they can build on the skills of students during their time at our school. As far as I am concerned, it is a major improvement on many levels in comparison to the piece of paper with which someone now graduates. The possibilities are endless!”Joost Jacobs, Education manager Praktijkschool Helmond

To work

The app is now ready. During a launch event on January 13th at Praktijkschool Helmond, a great moment of success within a lengthy process. Vereniging OMO, to which OMO Scholengroep Helmond’s four secondary schools belong, funded part of the project, in addition to SIDN Fund and Factom. “But we can’t make this project a success on or own,” Wim realizes. “We work with Sphereon, a software company with a lot of experience in the field of blockchain . Volution is also cooperating, an organization that offers digital learning resources that support personalized education. And then in Helmond we finally have a very nice partner in Senzer, the employment office for the region, which daily helps thousands of people with a meaningful job or social participation and their software builder Matchcare.”

Various organizations within and outside of education have already shown an  interest in the project. How well does the system work now? The first students will be testing in December and January. Wim is curious about the feedback. “We will receive surprising responses, we are sure of that. Things we haven’t thought of ourselves. Exciting, we will undoubtedly learn a lot from the target group. Phase 1 has now been completed; we are completely ready for the next. “

If you want to be present during the launch of the app on January 13th 2020 at Praktijkschool Helmond? Contact Wim Pelgrim:

 Author: Perry Vermeulen

Blockchain helps us to shape the future of education

I work on blockchain and I work on education. I wrote about education as a DAO before. But because that was a thought experiment, today I want to tell you about what I think the near future will look like. Or at least I hope this will be the near future. 

First, diplomas are becoming less important. Big tech companies hire people for the people they are and teach them afterward. And universities are also thinking about their role in the next ten to fifteen years. Like Avans University of Applied Sciences in the Southern part of The Netherlands. Avans was chosen as the best large university of applied sciences in The Netherlands for five years in a row and the local newspaper had an interview with chairman of the board Paul Rüpp

Rüpp tells in the interview that the school is going to make their courses and studies more flexible. He paints us a picture of a future in which students also work and only follow the courses that the employer requires. And Rüpp isn’t the only chairman talked about the sustainability of diplomas in The Netherlands. Paul Rosenmöller, head of the Council for Secondary Education (VO-raad) made the same kind of statements in March of this year.

And if that is the future (and I strongly believe it will or should), this will change the way we would like to display students results. Because results aren’t just simple grades, certificates or diplomas anymore. For my project BlockChange.EU I use the following images to show how I think we need to change the way we look at students. 

But a student isn’t Ronaldo, so we need a more detailed look at who a student is. Michelle Weise wrote an article for the Harvard Business Review about visualizing people’s skills. Using the data from 25 million job postings, Weise company created a grid to show the skills that employers demand from their applicants. This grid could be another way of showing your skills.

But how would you be able to show this kind of data? You would have to have a lot of datapoints. And the ideal way to store a lot of datpoints from different contributors (schools, educational applications, external certifying agencies, internships) in a network around a student is blockchain. Every learning moment with every teacher, using every app would be stored on blockchain and that data would be the result ánd next step in a student’s development. The learning moment, the learning experience a student has, guided by a teacher, is the start and finish of this vision.

Ermos Kyriakides

But if you make blockchain the foundation for this vision of the future, what could that do for education, besides being a different way of storing data in a network? Ermos Kyriakides wrote a piece on that on Hackernoon.

And he describes three powerful changes for education. Following his layout, I’ll show you how the grid and blockchain and the future of education are a match made in heaven.

1.Proof of Ownership
Who owns student data? The student? The school? The organization contracted by the school or district? The government? In my vision it is the student: it is your development, your learning path, your life. And you are the owner of your data. In blockchain you are. And you decide who can see, add and use information you provide. And who is cut off from your data.

But that’s not the only thing: you can easily prove you are the original content creator, you can build a transparent (and proven) work portfolio, teaching autonomy and self-assuredness.

2. Decentralized Information Sharing
But the blockchain is also decentralized and that makes global information sharing a lot easier for both students and for information. Fleeing from a conflict area? Emigrating? Your credentials travel with you, without a lot of bureaucratic trouble or the feeling you are entering a Kafka novel. You can take off from where you left.

3. Tokenized Economy
The last topic Kyriakides talks about is tokenization. And yes, Open Badges are a thing in education. And if you don’t know them, check out But the tokenization in the Hackernoon-article is a way blockchain and education could be part of online/distant learning. But I believe in the power of student-teacher interaction. And that demands student-teacher contact. But maybe I’m missing something in my view.

In short: in my vision for the future, education is a series of learning experiences of which the results will be stored on blockchain for later use by the owner of that data, the student. And that data can be visualized in several ways to help students show what they can and help them take the next step in their development. Let’s embrace that future and take that first step with me. And tell me how you think we should develop education.