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A Decentralized, Global Education System Makes Sense

This article was originally written by Evan Knowles in March of 2018. It is reproduced here in its entirety.

I don’t think people question the education system enough. We have been sold so well on the education system that people don’t look for alternatives, people go into debt before having any clue what they want to do, and if someone doesn’t fit in or get accepted into it, they feel like something is wrong with them. That is crazy and something must happen.

The future of education will move towards a decentralized and global network of educational experiences. It will be a system enhanced by technology so students get the education they want and need rather than the education shoved down their throat. Today’s society is moving too quickly and is too diverse to be sending kids through four year degree programs with rigid curriculums and bad teachers.

Why are student’s having to go through a school, in order to get to the teacher?Why not go directly to the teacher?If a teacher is really good at what they do and they are performing one of the most essential roles in a society, why should their pay be limited by a school system?Why should a teacher’s classroom be limited to a single school, city, or even nation?Why does it take four years to get through high school and college? It doesn’t need to take that long.Why are people that know nothing about you deciding what you are going to learn?Why do teachers get tenure? There should be nothing protecting a teacher other than their talent and care for their students.Why are’t teachers judged by a review system similar to restaurants and businesses? Let the market determine their employment.Why does it feel like students have to go to the same school four years?What’s wrong with going to a different school every semester?

The more you think about these questions, the more a decentralized education system makes sense.

WeWork + 2U

This vision of decentralization is already starting to take shape thanks to the recent partnership between WeWork and 2U.

“2U partners with great colleges and universities to build what we believe is the world’s best digital education. Our platform provides a comprehensive fusion of technology, services and data architecture to transform high-quality and rigorous campus-based universities into the best digital versions of themselves.” — 2U

“WeWork provides more than 175,000 members around the world with space, community, and services through both physical and virtual offerings. WeWork’s mission is to help create a world where people work to make a life, not just a living.” — WeWork

Through this partnership, WeWork will provide students in 2U-powered online programs global access to WeWork spaces. You can now have a place to work, study, or network wherever you are while taking online courses. This is just the beginning of the movement toward a Global Campus.

What does a Global Campus Look Like?

A global campus is a network of thousands of work spaces, student housing solutions, teachers, work shops, and much more connected together. People will be able to use this network to create very customized, global, and personal education experiences.

Imagine a world where the majority of lectures are online. Because the classes are online, the price of an education will decrease dramatically. People will also learn subjects much quicker on their own schedules. This decrease in the cost of lectures from a money and time perspective could be allocated to other experiences like travel, conferences, or hands on workshops.

Now, imagine a world where you travel the globe and get an education simultaneously.

What is it going to take to make this possible?

Massive online course adoption and recognition (Already happening thanks to 2U, Udemy, Coursera, and many others)Work communities where people can study, do projects, or conduct business. (WeWork)Network of for-profit work shops, conferences, and lectures. (Think cooking classes, TED Talks, AirBnB experiences, and one-on-one tutoring)Student living communities focused on affordability, flexibility, and community building.A technology platform connecting all of this together (Check out one of my previous blog posts called Education Needs to be a Guided Tour of the Mind to get what I am talking about.)

We have a long way to go, but I can tell this idea will become a reality for those willing to think outside the box and imagine what education could be.

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