Higher Education in the United States is woefully behind

Higher Education in the United States is woefully behind in preparing our youth for boundless opportunities in the rapidly growing technology sector. This isn’t just due to what’s happening in the classroom, it’s due to a structure that can’t support itself:

  • High costs: Tuition has increased over 200% since the 1997-1998 school year. The increase is more than twice the rate of inflation in that time.
  • Mounting debt: There is currently $1.3 trillion in student loan debt spread out over 44 million Americans. The average graduate from the class of 2016 had over $37,000 in debt.
  • Low graduation rates: Not only are today’s students going into debt, but less are now graduating with a 59% graduation rate within 6 years of starting college.
  • Not the right skills: The worst of all this is that the students who do graduate do not always have the skills needed to succeed in the workplace. This is widely referred to as the ‘skills gap’ between employers and job seekers.

Not Quite Filling the Gap.

We have seen the rise of the online education industry through sites like Coursera and CodeCademy, but they have not quite filled the gap. While they are great at teaching students the basics, these sites are unable to give the actual skills needed to thrive in the tech workplace.

Students aren’t completing courses.

What those platforms lack is a compelling rewards system. According to a joint study between MIT and Harvard, the certification rate for Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) is only 5.5%, meaning that about 1 in 20 who start a course receive a certificate of completion to show their skills. This means that students aren’t completing courses or aren’t receiving a meaningful certification when they do.

Competition for students drives university investments for increased selectivity, distinction, net tuition revenue and higher student satisfaction surveys faster and more prominently than investments in rigor relevant to industry and the economy.

A new startup in the blockchain education technology space, BitDegree, is looking to use gamification and Blockchain to fill the technology skills gap that higher education has left behind.

BitDegree is an online education platform similar to Coursera that will be the first to fully operate on Blockchain technology. Rather than reaching out to higher education or hiring private instructors to create course content, BitDegree is going to allow private enterprises to become ‘sponsors’ who create the exact course content that they need students to learn to fill the skills gap in their industry.

The sponsor creates a course and funds the course using BitDegree tokens (BDG). They load the course with small incentives for students to earn BDG tokens in micropayments while completing course projects using Ethereum smart contract technology.

Once a course is completed, students not only earn BDG tokens, which they can trade for other cryptocurrencies or use to make purchases from certain digital service providers, but they also earn a course certification that is immutably verified on the blockchain.

Because they are funding their own courses with tokens, sponsors can also be choosy about the quality and quantity of students they accept into their courses. As students complete more courses, they become more appealing to sponsors through the skills learned in their blockchain verified education.

What this gamification and blockchain rewards system offers is a real life solution to filling the void in the technology skills gap.

While BitDegree looks like it will be the pioneer of the blockchain education sector, what does that mean for higher education?

Blind Text

MOOC platforms like CodeCademy and Coursera typically only offer basic education that can get people started in tech, but not enough to enter the workplace. Higher Education has the problem of offering advanced skills and degrees, but not exactly the right skills for the marketplace after graduation.

The BitDegree reward and verification system allows for sponsors to create a clear path for students to learn the actual skills needed to work in the tech industry and helps sponsors pick and choose students they want to educate along the way.

BitDegree offers to solve the motivation problem that MOOCs and higher education have by offering financial rewards for micro-completions throughout a course, rather than just the theoretical promise of a career after graduation or course completion.

On top of all that, the blockchain education verification system that BitDegree offers will make it easy for sponsors to identify who they want to offer their more advanced courses to, which will allow them to recruit new employees from around the world directly off the platform.

If successful, BitDegree has the chance to not only close the skills gap between education and technology, but also gives eager and capable students from around the world a chance to make it in the technology sector, sidestepping, if not rolling over, the typical ivy league recruitment plan that tech companies use today.

Universities are not simply going to become useless and disappear after blockchain technology comes out, but their inefficiencies will become embarrassingly evident (even more so than they are now). Higher Education actually has an immense opportunity to overhaul its entire system of tuition, motivation, and certification on the blockchain.

With BitDegree leading the way, the question is, will higher education be able to adopt blockchain systems and remain appealing to students interested in studying technology, or will the current flawed system drive higher education to irrelevance? Ben Corpus University of Texas NCAA Ben Corpus NCAA Ben Corpus Baruch College NCAA Ben Corpus NCAA Baruch

Leave a Reply