Decentralized Autonomous University with Cryptographically Verifiable Smart Degrees
The cost of higher education is skyrocketing due to things like administrative bloat, unnecessary construction contracts, and sports program funding. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought clarity surrounding what really matters. The maturity of the Ethereum blockchain, has brought unique technological properties, enabling functionality not previously possible. There are a few things we now know to be true. Remote instruction works well. What really matters, is that students can take the classes they want, from the professors they want. If there is no need for classes to be done in person or synchronously, why should students and professors be confined to only their traditional institution. For example, Blockchain at Berkeley has faculty that teach a computer science course on topics we're interested in. This professor has a PhD, it's a legitimate course. It's available for free online, we can take it anyway asynchronously and remote. Why can we not get credit for this towards our degree? Why are we confined to the classes offered at one institution? Why can I not get credit for Professor XYZ's courses that are directly relevant to what I’m doing? If you think about what the role of a university is, it's essentially two things. A marketplace to match students and teachers, and an institution to verify that a student has done the work they claim towards a set of criteria, known as a curriculum. Our argument, is these two functions have been disrupted. We already see successful marketplaces for education, such as eDx, coursera, and Udemy. What hasn't been possible until now, is cryptographically verifiable decentralized proof that a student as done the work.Instead of a degree from a university, you have a smart contract, let's take computer science for example. You have all the same traditional requirements. Intro to CS, Intro to OOP, Data Structures and Algorithms. Except now, your progress is tracked via a smart contract that anyone can view and verify on the ethereum blockchain. As for the classes available to you? We have a marketplace that offers courses from professors across the country. Now you can take exactly what you want to take. The professors still conduct their class via canvas and zoom, except now, when a student finishes, they cryptographically sign that students degree smart contract. That’s it. No semesters, no university, just classes and students. Want to go to school part time? Start the degree smart contract, pay the professor, and take the course. Okay well, we’re left with some questions. Where does the trust come from, and how are curriculum decisions made, how do professors get paid, how to students pay. Here’s where another recent technological advancement comes into play. DAOs are now a distributed power mechanism, that seeks to return the value of labor to the producers and consumers of that labor. DAOs have two interesting properties here. They allow for votes, in this class from professors and students, of changes that can be made to improve the system. The professors can collectively propose changes to curriculum. The students can propose wanted changes. Profits are distributed back to professors and/or students as the system grows. Now let’s talk about the third key societal function. Employers use degree credentials as a filter for candidates. Perhaps they have voting rights of their own, and can propose changes to curriculum to reflect major shifts. Instead of needing to contact the university to verify a students credentials, they can just view it any time on the open blockchain. They can get vote multipliers for hiring, or early access. It’s synergistic. Ultimately, our theory is that blockchains have rendered many traditional institutions obsolete. This use case, happens to be a problem we face ourselves, and have the skill set to attempt to fix.
How it's made
tried to implement a brownie mix dao using openzeppelin governor token on rinkeby. had too much school work to really dive into this tbh. need more time especially this late in the semester. i didnt really get to start til last night. I have a more comprehensive front and backend of the actual dapp thats built using django rest framework, nextjs, usedapp, and brownie but that's outside the scope of this hackathon