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NFTs in education: Heading to the top of the class?

We are only starting to see the beginning of how NFTs and education can come together.

Sotheby's sold the original source code for the World Wide Web for $5.4 million — © AFP Martin BUREAU
Sotheby's sold the original source code for the World Wide Web for $5.4 million — © AFP Martin BUREAU

NFTs (non-fungible tokens) are the digital innovations attracting considerable attention, with some items of digital art being sold for bewildering sums of money within a new extension of the collectables market. This had led some to question whether NFTs are ‘foolhardy or rationale?

READ MORE: World’s first ever generative podcast NFT collection goes live

NFTs are no longer a concept associated with art and design and they are starting to be used in different sectors. One example is the education space. Is this a fad or is there a future for NFTs in the education space? Can something like an NFT add value to teachers and students?

One company branching out into new territory is Preply (an Online Learning Platform). The company is using NFTs in the education space, as an Edtech innovation. For this purpose, Preply has minted three NFTs on the platform Open Sea. These are designed to reward their most loyal tutors of 2021. This is based on a calculation of the most hours taught.

Amy Pritchett, Student Success Manager of Preply told Digital Journal: “We wanted to experiment with NFTs as a way to reward Preply tutors and the great education they provide our students. NFTs give us the opportunity to gift loyal tutors with rewards. It’s the first step toward having our own exclusive Preply club in which we are able to reward our top performers year in, year out. Once you have one of these tokens, it’s yours for life. There is also the opportunity to sell these tokens.”

Extending this concept further, the next development is to connect NFTs to the remote learning expansion that came with the past two years of the pandemic. The idea is that when a student or teacher does well, to make it memorable, the academic sector can now deploy arts, sculptures, and ornaments in the form of NFT for them, using their metadata.

As well as the Preply idea, Seton Hall University held an Annual Entrepreneur Hall of Fame Dinner in February 2022. Here alumni were presented with NFT awards.

A similar example has been implemented by Beau Brennan, an educator at Pepperdine University who teaches a personal finance course and experimented with awarding NFTs to students last semester.

Brennan  calls these “academic tokens” and insists they do not have a direct monetary value. Instead, they prove the student has passed the course and contain unique details about how well the student did and information about the class and syllabus.

An alternative option is with issuing NFTs as credentials. For example, Duke University has provided educational credentials as NFTs for its Master of Engineering in Financial Technology degree.

The idea here is that the use of NFTs as diplomas and resumes could help track what students have earned throughout their school careers. The advantage is where this stops students from falsifying academic certifications. The token would act as a permanent “transcript” that is unique.

Returning to Pritchett: “We are only starting to see the beginning of how NFTs and education can come together. They are an emerging trend that we all continue to be curious about.”

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Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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