BitDegree Launches Blockchain Scholarship Platform to Fund Learners
By Henry Kronk
September 03, 2019
BitDegree, an online coding school based in Kaunas, Lithuania, is betting that there’s an appetite for more transparency in online learning scholarships. The company has established a blockchain-based open-source platform to allow donors and students to more easily establish trust while conferring scholarships for their professional courses.
BitDegree offers online courses in blockchain, data science, marketing, business, programming, and more. They often serve learners in developing countries looking to upskill into the global workforce. To fund those courses, they are offering hopeful learners the opportunity to get their learning experience sponsored by a third party.
Blockchain-Recorded Scholarships from BitDegree
Every transaction that BitDegree administers will be recorded in the Blockchain. As such, students who manage to win scholarships will be able to know where those funds originated. Likewise, donors who provide students with scholarships will be able to determine how they were spent.
Many scholarships today are given via third party institutions. They accept donations from groups or individuals, and, in turn, take care of the scholarship selection process. This creates overhead that cuts into the amount passed on to students and also obscures both sides from each other. What’s more, these third parties don’t necessarily recognize online professional training companies.
In truth, many students and donors prefer to go with a trusted third party scholarship conferring organization. But BitDegree believes that there is an appetite for more transparency in the process.
The platform allows students to create their own profile—which they can verify through BitDegree—and request a specific amount for a specific class. Once donors decide to sponsor them through their course, the funds become available to that student to be used only for the purpose of said course. If students fail to complete key milestones, the donation amount is refunded to donors.
In their profiles, learners describe who they are, some struggles they’re facing, and what they hope to accomplish with their course, among other things. The platform then verifies these accounts and makes them public.
Connecting Learners with Funders
BitDegree stands as a promising means to connect learners in developing countries with individuals overseas looking to give. As the company states in a news release, “Financial incentives for learning are important because learners in developing and even developed countries often have to choose between learning and low-paid work that provides necessary income, putting their families’ wellbeing at risk. These incentives also motivate to finish courses and to continue learning further, signaling that the skills gained are valuable for the global job market, leading to better employment opportunities.”
For example, Zina Youhan is pursuing a degree in software engineering at the University of Kelaniya in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Youhan is hoping for a $10.00 donation to pursue an AJAX tutorial from BitDegree, which would bump her knowledge of the field.
BitDegree launched with an ICO in 2017. Their first course, “Space Doggos,” included gamified elements, and the company has sought to take a more engaging tack with online learning. It began training learners—often supported via scholarships—in 2018. They have since trained over 500,000 students and partnered with Vilnius University, in party to develop methods to increase engagement in online courses.
Featured Image: Annie Spratt, Unsplash.
Correction September 4, 2019: an earlier version of this article mistakenly stated BitDegree was based in Vilnius, Lithuania.