NFTs (or non-fungible tokens) have become a hot topic in conversations when it comes to emerging trends in technology. Although it seems that they are something new, CryptoPunks launched the first NFT in 2017. Now, NFTs are now being used at an increasing rate and value every day. In one year, the value of NFTs on the market increased from $340 million to $14 billion USD. There are many areas of work where people are starting to use NFTs and one question many are asking is, “What role could NFTs play in education in the future?
What are NFTs?
As defined by Merriam-Webster, a non-fungible token (NFT) is a unique digital identifier that cannot be copied, substituted, or subdivided. Once created, the NFT is registered on a blockchain that is used to certify its authenticity and ownership. An NFT is not a tangible object, but rather a form of proof that proves ownership and purchase. These blockchain-based tokens can represent artwork, digital content, media, or even event tickets. An NFT is an irrevocable digital certificate of ownership and authenticity of a digital or physical asset.
NFTs have unique digital identifiers and are stored on a blockchain, a system used to keep track of transactions made in bitcoin or some type of cryptocurrency. NFT records are kept on multiple computers that are linked in a network and through the blockchain they can be sold or traded. NFTs are created through a process called “minting,” in which they convert digital files into a cryptocurrency collectible. The minting process is how NFTs are loaded onto the blockchain.
One difference between bitcoin and NFTs is that bitcoin can be exchanged for another bitcoin, while NFTs are unique and cannot be exchanged for the same value. In my 8th grade STEAM class, I shared this explainer video that provides some examples to help students and teachers better understand NFTs. An example shows how a $100 bill can be divided into different amounts but still have the same value. However, when it comes to NFTs, in art for example, you can’t take a painting like the Mona Lisa, split it up, and distribute it equally because there is only one original Mona Lisa. That’s where the value of NFTs comes in, especially in areas like music and art. While you may be able to print a copy or take a photo of it, the value will not be the same as the original. Due to the ability to fake artwork or music, making it difficult to identify if it is an authentic piece or not, this is where NFTs can be very beneficial.
How are NFTs created?
NFTs are created by artists, designers, or licensees through a process called “minting.” Minting involves signing a blockchain transaction that provides the details or summary of the fundamental details of the token. NFTs can take various forms, be it a photo, a video, or even a GIF. The information is then sent to the blockchain to trigger a smart contract function that creates the token and assigns it to its owner. Each NFT has a unique identifier which is then stored on the blockchain. Once it’s on the blockchain, it establishes authenticity and ownership.
Where are NFTs used in education?
In education, NFTs have become a topic of conversation. Over the past few months, in my Emerging Technology STEAM course, we have explored bitcoin, cryptocurrencies, blockchain, and NFTs. Students are interested in learning about NFTs and discussing what they mean for the future and for education, and even brainstorming what they would create. There are several universities that use NFT for accreditation and also to work in remote learning environments. One example is Duke University, which has provided educational credentials in the form of NFTs for its Master of Engineering in Financial Technology.
Other universities are exploring some unique uses of NFTs. Seton Hall University held an annual Entrepreneur Hall of Fame dinner in February and alumni received NFT awards. At Pepperdine University, an educator has been using NFTs in a personal finance course to grant NFTs to students. NFTs represent academic tokens, with no monetary value, that represent when a student has passed the course. The NFT contains unique details about student performance. MIT has researched and been advocating the use of blockchain to authenticate university certificates and transcripts.
Students are interested in learning about NFTs and discussing what they mean for the future and for education, and even brainstorming what they would create.
NFTs may also be used in the future to give people permission to events and better manage which parts of the event people have access to. Over time, this may even turn into some kind of alumni status, i.e. special rewards or privileges for those who have attended SXSW EDU 5 years in a row, etc.
What does this look like in K-12?
At the high school level, think of times when we use assessments to learn or share evidence of the work students have done, whether it’s in the form of a certificate, keeping student records, accessing standardized test results, or registering other academic results. achievements These take time to obtain and store, and in some cases can be easily faked. With so much technology available, we can make certificates and other documents look authentic. However, with NFTs and the inability to forge them, schools are likely to consider using NFTs for a variety of reasons.
When a student or teacher is doing well, to make it memorable, academia can now create and design an NFT. Using NFTs as diplomas and resumes could help better track and access what students have earned throughout their school careers. By using NFT, it serves to prevent students from forging their transcripts because the token serves as a permanent, immutable, and unique “transcript.” There are many ways NFTs are being used now that can benefit various areas of work and life. Rabbi Michael Cohen, an educator and author, has been doing a lot of work in the area of NFTs and even has a Twitter Spaces chat on Tuesday nights about it. He sees the potential of using NFTs for creativity and the arts.
Mark Cuban, a billionaire and investor in NFT platforms, believes that textbooks will become part of the NFT experience. Digital textbooks may be resold and royalties may be charged for each resale.
Preply, a global language learning platform founded in 2012, minted three NFTs on Open Sea as a way to reward tutors in 2021. Amy Pritchett, Manager of Student Success at Preply says, “We wanted to experiment with NFTs as a way to reward Preply tutors and the great education they provide our students. Once you have one of these tokens, you can either keep it or sell it. Pritchett added some ideas for using NFTs, such as creating online “trophy cases” of your NFTs as artifacts or perhaps creating digital portfolios, which can be shared with prospective employers or even college admissions. Teachers can also issue NFTs to represent when students successfully demonstrate learning of class material. Pritchett added: “We are only beginning 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.”
What is the difference between NFTs and verifiable credentials?
Both NFTs and verifiable credentials (VCs) offer ways to uniquely identify something in the digital space. NFTs are publicly displayed and VCs are privately owned digital fact; however, each of these spaces provides more security and authenticity, and can be monetized. Each one proves that something, be it a piece of clothing or a work of art, belongs to someone. However, there are differences. A VC uses link key infrastructure and has three entities: the credential issuer, holder, and verifier. Each party signs the license and authenticates it. An example would be a driver’s license. An NFT can only exist on the blockchain, and as soon as it is created, everything is time-stamped, making it easy to verify ownership. NFTs can be monetized by creating something new and then selling it, while a VC cannot be tampered with and all information is cryptographically verified to prove the identity of the individual or entity. NFTs can be transferred, but VCs cannot, meaning the original owner remains the same.
The value of NFTs
The value of NFTs is determined by the availability of a digital asset or what it represents. If there are few, then the value will be higher. Early last year, digital artist Beeple sold Everydays, a 5,000-image collage for $69.3 million, and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey sold the first tweet he made as an NFT for $2.9 million. Podcast Host has launched the “World’s First Generative Podcast NFT Collection” under the brand of “The Curious Companion”, introducing a new medium into the world of NFTs.
NFTs create a unique way for artists and creators to express themselves by creating authentic, sellable, collectible digital art and artifacts. When it comes to human expression and preparing students for the future, Tom Vander Ark says, “We can no longer teach the expressive arts without introducing new modes of expression, new market platforms, and new business models with the opportunity to make a career in the sustainable arts. It’s time to teach creativity not only in the arts, but also in audience development and entrepreneurship.”
With NFT and the potential to infuse creativity into design and develop a layout plan, we are fostering essential skills like entrepreneurship and agency in learning. Students now create artwork and maintain ownership of their work as NFTs or can develop entrepreneurial skills to build a business and make a profit.
As we look to prepare students for the future, Vander Ark believes schools and colleges can help by “integrating expressive arts with emerging technology and new business models so more young people graduate ready for the impact of the arts.” sustainable”. We can expand access to careers in human expression while taking advantage of emerging technologies in our future.