Friday, March 1, 2024

PH startup awarded 2 patents for online learning tech

Local startup Apptitude has secured patents from the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) for two pioneering technologies – authentication and blockchain credential systems – for its homegrown online learning management system.

Apptitude CEO Mars Veloso

According to Apptitude CEO Marcelino Veloso, “The pandemic triggered the conversation on the pros and cons of digital learning. And we took the time to listen. The last few months have been a whirlwind of upgrades based on feedback from teachers and professionals who want to upskill or comply with mandatory continuous professional training.”

Amidst the backdrop of the pandemic, schools, training institutes and universities have had to go purely digital in conducting classes. This sudden shift has enabled Apptitude to focus its attention on certain pain points.,

“We are seeing schools digitize. We are seeing this unprecedented demand for online learning. But we are also seeing the pitfalls of adopting off-the-shelf solutions. How do we verify the learner is real and the one really taking their classes? How do we ensure that the credentials issued by online courses are authentic and can be relied upon in the future?” said Veloso.

To address the gaps, Apptitude developed an end-to-end authenticated learning system that ensures student identity through a Know-Your Learner (KYL) method. This mandates matching IDs with selfies taken upon registration. It was granted a patent with publication date September 29, 2021 and is among the first to implement this technology globally.

The identity is also verified throughout the course. With prior consent from the learner, Apptitude takes photos at random intervals to ensure course takers are in fact the persons enrolled. This is critical for professional licensing bodies that need a way to verify that license holders have complied with requirements to continue the practice of professions.

Once a course is completed, Apptitude leverages blockchain technology to issue certificates that can be easily verified online or via QR code. These are considered non-fungible tokens (NFTs) in the blockchain space. Apptitude was awarded a patent for this as well in August of this year, and believes this will revolutionize how education and training qualifications are verified.

“Verifying qualifications in a paper-based system is cumbersome and fraught with fraud. An entire industry in the Philippines is devoted to the manufacture of fake credentials,” said Veloso, who finished his computer science and law degrees at the University of the Philippines.

“This forces additional expenses on the part of employers, universities, and professional licensing bodies in confirming authenticity with certificate issuers. Now, through blockchain technology’s immutable record keeping, we make that entire process more convenient and reliable for learners, educators, and employers alike. A decentralized source of credentialed truth becomes possible.” 

While many schools are gearing up for a return to face-to-face education, Veloso said the future of learning will be a hybrid.

“The pandemic experience has shown that learning can be digital. This recent national experience of being able to learn from anywhere and get academic and professional qualifications for it is a game-changer for our institutions. For our students, it strengthens the premise that the internet is the great equalizer, creating an even playing field for those who can’t attend face to face, be it due to budget, time or other constraints,” he said.

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