In March and April this year, 52% of polls conducted on Polys, a blockchain-based voting platform from the Kaspersky Innovation Hub, were carried out by educational entities, as revealed by the analysis of anonymized metadata. With online voting increasing overall during this period, Kaspersky experts suggest that the growing interest from educational organizations can be explained by the COVID-19 quarantine, as staff and students at home moved their self-government processes online.
Due to measures taken to halt the spread of the coronavirus, many schools and universities were closed. Although the situation in some countries is improving, according to UNESCO statistics, even now more than 1.2 billion learners cannot go to school or university (as of May 19, 2020). In response to this, some enabled distanced learning, and analysis of the use of Polys has shown that joint decision making related to education also moved online.
In March to April, the number of sessions on Polys tripled in comparison to 2019, with noticeable growth in the share of educational institutions. Voting devoted to this area increased by 17pp compared to the same period of 2019, when it amounted to 35%.
E-voting was widely used by both students as well as faculty members and teachers. The latter chose reviewers for research papers, approved curriculum, and decided on other management issues. Via the Polys platform, students gave their opinion on whether or not they wanted to learn remotely, evaluated the quality of online lessons and chose the winner of a drawing contest, for example.
Elections in student government bodies were also commonly carried out. As pupils were not able to organize the scheduled elections onsite, some of them decided not to postpone the voting until it’s safe to gather together, but to shift to online polls. For example, such elections were held by Aktief Slip, an association for environmental science students at Wageningen University & Research in the Netherlands. More than 460 students cast their votes for the board members. In the International Institute of Debate, a non-profit organization founded in Tunisia, members chose the VP of Learning & Development. The student parliament of Rokiskis Juozas Tumas-Vaizgantas gymnasium, located in Lithuania, used Polys in voting for the president of the student council.
The participants noted that Polys allowed them to have secure, transparent and anonymous voting, while saving time on preparation and ballot counting.
“We have previously seen that online voting is widespread in education. However, before students were our main users, and now the staff is also actively organizing and participating in such polls. It’s great that despite all the difficulties, learners and teachers are keeping their heads and trying to retain the usual processes. And we are delighted that many of them see the benefits of our platform and are thinking about the use of online voting in the future when everything returns to normal,” comments Alexander Sazonov, Head of Product, Polys.
"This is a very good example of how technology can be used by people, institutions, and governments. Today many remote opportunities are increasing due to advanced technologies like blockchain, artificial intelligence, etc. This certainly shows that if we have the will to do something, there will always be a way for us to do it. Kaspersky has always supported and encouraged the youth of this nation to take up similar initiatives and help the country progress on its path of being a full-fledged digital nation. With online voting being used by educational institutions giving the ability to allow students and the staff to make important decisions can be seen as a positive change and should be encouraged at other places too,” Dipesh Kaura, General Manager for South Asia, Kaspersky adds.
The learnings we gather from electoral practices at the educational institutes can lay the foundations for planning State wide and nationwide elections and execute such tasks with utmost transparency, efficiency and accuracy.
More information about Polys is available via the link.