First blockchain university promises to be the Uber for Students and AirBnB for teachers

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Woolf University will not have lecture halls or studying facilities. Students and professors will meet through an app to arrange one-to-one or one-to-two tutorial sessions.

A group of University of Oxford academics just launched Woolf University, the first university to operate on the blockchain, the digital ledger technology behind bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. The project’s white paper states that for “for students, it will be the Uber of degree courses; for teachers, it will be the Airbnb of course hosting, but for both parties the use of blockchain technology will provide the contractual stability needed to complete a full course of study.”

Woolf University will not have lecture halls or studying facilities. Students and professors will meet through an app to arrange one-to-one or one-to-two tutorial sessions. Course credits will be registered through smart contracts on the blockchain, and then accredited by traditional institutions.

The project’s creators hope this new model of higher education will reduce tuition fees (the university aims to charge $57,600 for its first degrees), and enable academics to take control of their employment; firstly by enabling the university to reduce administrative and overhead costs; secondly, by allowing for the decentralized autonomous organization between teachers and learners.

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Mike Sharples, emeritus professor of educational technology at the Open University, said that quality assurance would be a key challenge for the new institution. Although blockchain can assure students and teacher meet, it cannot assure quality. However, he fundamentally sees this new proposal in a positive light: “They’re trying out a new approach to higher education, and just like other sectors such as music have been disrupted, it’s really time that higher education was disrupted in a positive way”.