How blockchain technology can give ESL Teachers their own Human Resource department
For English teachers, this can be an maddeningly frustrating question to answer.
That the student is improving is likely true. Regardless of whether the developmental linguistics researcher believes in a universal grammar, a language instinct or a result of overlapping biological functions, they all believe humans have a clear preparedness for language. Through minimal conscious effort, we naturally progress in whichever language we are using. However, improvement comes quite gradually, and from so many angles that it’s arguably impossible for a teacher, no matter how trained an eye they have, to reliably measure improvement.
Overall progress is always forward for the learner, but the gears powering it do so in a complex roundabout way that would make a watchmaker’s head spin:
A student focuses on reading and writing skills for a research paper, setting speaking and listening off to the side.
A student learns about English’s interdental fricative and, during an adjustment period, temporarily loses the articulation they’d had for labiodental fricatives.
A student realizes that the present simple can be used for contexts in both the past and future and, realizing it’s not so simple, throws their hands up in exasperation and consciously ignores English for a week, letting the concept marinate in peace.
That a lesson learned today may not show its worth until months down the road is, itself, a lesson all language teachers have had to learn to accept. And in a world where one’s English ability is regularly boiled down to questionable numeric values that cause anxiety and skepticism, the value of an ESL teacher becomes muddled.
Without any reliable performance indicators to market themselves with, the ESL teacher must rely more heavily on networking than skill. This can be a boon for the handful who land private client circles they can depend on long-term, but most teachers must settle for language institutes which are dependable but mostly offer low-ceiling wages.
The intermediary role institutes serve has been an essential one, as they are the 3rd party expected to confirm essential documents of trust for students. These include degrees, certifications, working papers, police records and prior performance reviews. A potential student shouldn’t be expected to research all this information, so unless a teacher can network well and build trust organically, the institute becomes their lifeline.
An institute has an identity that students and their agents can trust to be lawful and provide a safe, expected floor of value. If disintermediation in education to happen, the connection between the industry’s two essential players, students and teachers, must be dependable.
Much of the potential wrapped around blockchain is the development of an individual’s identity strangers can trust. Education blockchains in development, ESL Coin included, are automating this Human Resource role so teachers can start marketing their service and sharpening their skills for valuable performance reviews.
In an industry with so much demand-driven growth potential, the supply of teachers must be organized in a way that values academic qualification, experience and performance reviews that are both qualitative and quantitative.
Higher education institutions such as ECPI University, Central New Mexico Community College and MIT, a leader in the blockchain vanguard, have already started using blockchain technology to store and share student credentials. Once the rest of academia catches on, ESL instructors and other skilled professionals will be able to leverage this direct access into more trust.
This could become especially important regarding those ESL instructors who depend on their TEFL certificate, as TEFL programs vary greatly in terms of quality and comprehensiveness. Many TEFL certification courses are just as demanding and academically challenging as any Cambridge University-regulated CELTA course, but there are many TEFL programs whose value is misleading. These programs will have to tighten up their requirements or risk an immutable blockchain rating that will downgrade their certification out of the market.
Resumes and CVs will also be linked to blockchains, which can showcase work experience and job performance reviews without potential clients or employers needing to verify potentially false claims. Saving time for others is one of the best ways to make an impression and open your skills up to a much larger market.
Perhaps undervalued is the trust given to those who follow the law. As government agencies start implementing blockchain more, documents such as passports, visas and police records can be officially linked to one’s identity. This instantaneous background check will help soothe any legal or security concerns clients might have.
Blockchain tech is also going to revolutionize review systems in a way that should make both teaching and learning much more enjoyable and fulfilling. Will we all have a star rating (most likely out of 5)? Yes. That’s nothing new, but what will develop should be something much larger than an ESL Teacher Yelp.
On current review sites, such as Yelp, anyone with an opinion can give a rating that has equivalent value to all the other ratings. In a blockchain system, rating power is earned over time through participation rate and objectivity metrics. To illustrate, a reviewer whose ratings are either too few or consistently extreme will affect an overall rating less than experienced participants whose ratings usually correspond to those of their peers.
With an evergreen review system that can measure many facets of a teacher’s ability and style, student to teacher optimization will reach new heights. There is no such thing as a perfect teacher for everyone:
A teacher could perform well with standardized test (IELTS/TOEFL/GMAT) preparation but is not the most social person.
A teacher with an engineering background could excel at connecting with software programmers but not quite click with aspiring digital marketers.
A teacher could love instructing through giving tours of cities while despising the classroom setting.
These are just a few examples of the vast skillset diversity among ESL teachers waiting to be effectively matched to the diversity of student demands. Language should not be confused for a specific academic subject or technical skill; rather, it is the tool used to improve knowledge of all academic subjects and technical skills.
As a result of optimization, teacher networks or institutes could more effectively plan an English-learning journey in a way that is engaging, relevant and organized to fit that particular student. Maybe they want the tour guide teacher in the beginning and on weekends, but during weekday morning they’d prefer a more grammar-oriented teacher followed by one who loves current events in the afternoon. The possibilities are as endlessly creative as language itself.
Whether it’s a teacher who loves to travel the world or one who just loves their hometown or city, automated blockchain HR functions will empower them and benefit students. By wielding direct control of their true identity, clients and employers will trust teachers right away, allowing them to market and better their service.
Much of the hesitancy for many to accept more of a DIY or freelancing approach to their ESL career is linked to HR paperwork and guaranteed payment. Blockchain technology and cryptocurrency can solve both these issues. The main obstacle holding back mass adoption is education, so consider learning more about blockchain’s decentralized technology and understand why experts believe it will come to define the next major upgrade to the internet.
Then we can start teaching English in a more way more representative of who we are and how we can help.