Personalizing Education: How Web3 and Digital Identity Empower Learners and Promote Equity


Welcome back to our third and final installment of this introductory series on web3. In this series we’ve explored the technology and trends shaping the next generation of the web and most importantly for this audience what are the potential impacts on education. In our first post, we walked you through the shifts occurring in the web and specifically highlighted some of the shifts occurring in web3. In particular, we noted that part of the promise of web3, the decentralized Internet, holds transformative potential for education, bringing the promise of greater agency, accessibility, and personalization to learning. At the heart of this revolution is the learner, now able to navigate an interconnected digital ecosystem with tools designed to recognize and respect their unique identity. One of these key tools is Decentralized Digital Identity (DID), a technology that can redefine what it means to be a learner in the digital age. Let’s delve into the empowering possibilities of DIDs and how they can be combined with verifiable credentials to craft a more inclusive, equitable, and personalized learning experience.

Digital Identity: Empowering the Learner

Decentralized Digital Identity systems often referred to as DIDs are another key piece of technology that will serve a critical role for all of us in the future.  While their use is still fairly limited, many states are actively exploring using these systems as a way to issue digital representations of things like a driver’s license.  Other organizations like Randa are reimagining identity by using new technology to help teachers bridge their teaching licenses from state to state. From a high-level perspective, DIDs allow us to store information about ourselves in a secure yet accessible format on blockchain.

So what?  How does this empower learners?  

In the last post, we talked about the potential for scaled adoption of verifiable credentials where learners could be presented with digital recognition of their learning, allowing them to share what they have learned. If we combine this with the ability for learners to share information about themselves through a DID securely, we can quickly develop a more holistic learner profile that can fill a number of gaps AND present us with new opportunities.

The powerful combination of DIDS and verifiable credentials could be a game-changer for educators and school leaders, reducing friction between the learner’s needs and access to learning opportunities.  While there are still technical and philosophical hurdles we must solve for the benefit of the school and most importantly the learner can be extensive.

  • Greater Agency
    • Learner agency has been a topic of interest in education for well over a decade, often discussed in conversations around personalized and competency-based learning. Delivering experiences that are tailored to the learner requires tools and systems that can recognize the whole learner, and to date, these tools and systems have not scaled well. With DIDs and verifiable credentials, we can now effectively implement and scale these personalized experiences. These technologies create a digital footprint of a learner’s entire educational journey allowing the co-creation of detailed profiles that capture academic achievements, soft skills, interests, and experiences outside the traditional school system. This comprehensive view can help educators design personalized learning plans and recognize students’ unique talents and growth.
  • Better Resource Allocation
    • Better access to technologies like adaptive learning programs, diagnostic, and benchmarking tools have helped us better allocate resources in our schools.  Tiered systems of intervention are now more accessible than ever to classroom teachers and school leaders, BUT these systems rarely interact with each other. A school’s behavior intervention system doesn’t talk with an adaptive learning program, which doesn’t talk with the student information system leaving a wealth of information siloed and often lacking direct inputs from the learner. However, the advent of DIDs and verifiable credentials has the potential to break down these silos, enabling a seamless, integrated system that prioritizes the learner’s input.  Holistic learner profiles could be a key unlock in guiding classroom teachers and school leaders in directing resources where they’re needed most. They can identify gaps and strengths in the learning journey and tailor support accordingly at a fraction of the time cost.
  • Supporting Equity and Inclusion
    • Our current systems of recognizing learner achievement are often limited to standardized metrics such as test scores and grades. By recognizing diverse learning paths and experiences, a system of holistic learner profiles promotes greater equity and inclusion in education. Often our metrics for recognizing learner achievement and success are often limited to things like standardized test scores and course grades. A more holistic system validates non-traditional learning experiences and soft skills often overlooked in traditional assessments. 

In addition to these three areas, it’s worth exploring the impact that the development of such profiles can have when combined with AI.  

Where AI meets Web3: Democratizing Access

With greater access to new technologies, we are inching closer to the realization of truly personalized learning experiences for all learners. One of the major roadblocks we have encountered is the sheer scale of personalization that is required to cater to the unique needs of each learner. Teachers, no matter how dedicated, are constrained by time and resources in developing personalized learning pathways that cater to all learners.   

Adaptive learning programs that create tailored pathways for learners are not an entirely new concept.  Teachers have been leveraging programs like Rennaissance, Edmentum, etc. which use diagnostic tools to create personalized learner pathways in math, reading, science, etc. The problem with these systems is that they are rather one-dimensional tracking progress in a narrow band of learner understanding. 

So how do we inform this AI-driven system about each learner’s unique identity, skills, interests, and achievements? This is where DIDs and verifiable credentials come into play. DIDs, combined with verifiable credentials, can provide a comprehensive learner profile. This profile not only includes academic achievements but also captures the holistic learner, including their interests, experiences, and soft skills.

In this envisioned future, AI systems would draw detailed learner profiles, that contain a much richer and detailed profile of the learner, to create and curate personalized learning experiences across disciplines. This unlock can effectively bridge the gap between the need for personalized education and the ability to deliver it. With these technological advancements, we are approaching a window of opportunity where personalized education for all learners is not just a lofty goal but a feasible reality.

We stand on the cusp of a new era in education, one in which web3 has the potential to give us more than a set of tools such as blockchain, verifiable credentials, and DIDs.  They can be catalysts for a transformative shift towards learner-centered education that emphasizes agency, access, and personalization.  As we continue exploring and unraveling the potential of these technologies, we will be ushering in a new landscape where each learner’s identity is valued and every learning journey is personalized. The future of education is not just about the adoption of new technology, rather it’s about reimaging learning for the digital age, placing the learner at the center of their educational journey.  

I hope you’ve enjoyed our first look at the potential of web3 technologies and their potential impact on education.  If you’re interested in learning more, I would encourage you to connect with Ed3 DAO a community dedicated to exploring the intersection of web3 technology and education at and on our socials Linkedin and Twitter.

Picture of Dr. Mike Peck

Dr. Mike Peck

Dr. Mike Peck is a progressive educator and leader with experience in classroom teaching and technology leadership. Currently, he is the Director of Technology and Innovative Learning at a public school district in the United States where he oversees district-wide technology professional development and cyber security initiatives. Dr. Peck is also a co-founder of Ed3 DAO, an organization dedicated to integrating web3 technologies in education and providing educational opportunities for educators worldwide.

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