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$900,000 Blockchain Innovation Challenge Seeks Solutions for Sharing Learners' Skills with Employers

The American Council on Education (ACE) has announced a $900,000 competition designed to identify blockchain-based solutions that will help underserved learners document their skills and credentials and share them with potential employers. The Blockchain Innovation Challenge is part of ACE's Education Blockchain Initiative, a U.S. Department of Education-funded effort launched in February to explore the use of distributed ledger technology in education.

"Too often learners face unnecessary roadblocks when it comes to clearly communicating their skills to prospective employers or learning providers" said Gayatri Agnew, senior director of and a member of the Education Blockchain Initiative Steering Committee, in a statement. "We are looking for bold, scalable, learner-centered ideas that can help individuals better navigate pathways to economic opportunities."

Selection criteria include:

  • Building community and consensus around solving a common problem through blockchain technology;
  • Interoperability and open design; and
  • Providing individuals with data literacy skills and agency over their own data.

The challenge is open to K-12 and higher education institutions, employers, community organizations and technology providers. The application deadline is Oct. 30. Winners will be selected by the Education Blockchain Initiative Steering Committee in partnership with the nonprofit Presidents Forum. The $900,000 prize money will be split among the winning teams over two phases, with Phase 1 winners awarded up to $150,000 each.

"The pandemic is exacerbating endemic inequities at the intersection of education and employment. Blockchain has the potential to help individuals — and institutions — bridge the divide between educational experiences and economic opportunity," said ACE President Ted Mitchell. "Now more than ever we must encourage creativity and experimentation and be willing to test innovations that could equitably help people better develop and share their skills."

For more information, visit the ACE site.

About the Author

Rhea Kelly is editor in chief for Campus Technology, THE Journal, and Spaces4Learning. She can be reached at [email protected].

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