‘DeEd’, or decentralized education, applies the benefits of decentralized technologies to the learning process, creating distributed access to educational resources across a network of learners, teachers and institutions, without reliance on centralized authorities, and regardless of physical location.
Amid a faltering education industry which had its problems laid bare during the Covid-19 lockdowns, the decentralized education movement breaks down long-standing geographical and institutional barriers to create an educational landscape where anyone, anywhere can reap the benefits of education.
Problems Facing the Education Industry
The importance of education cannot be overstated. Indeed, a recent study published in peer-reviewed medical journal, The Lancet, found that every year of education reduces mortality by 2%. Education really is a matter of life and death.
The Covid-19 lockdowns and subsequent school closures could result in $21 trillion in lost salaries among the current generation of students, according to the World Bank, which also identified problems at the executive level of the education industry, noting that the decision-making process is being hampered by financial and political factors.
Ultimately, the school system as we know it hasn’t changed since the 1800’s, when it was initially set up to maintain social order following the French revolution, and reinforce obedience in the masses.
With these points in mind, it’s difficult to argue with the idea that the education system needs to change.
Why Decentralized Education (DeEd)?
In DeEd, there are no physical, geographical barriers for learners. As long as someone has an internet connection, they can get the education they need.
More than just breaking down physical barriers, DeEd evolves the learning process by customizing and personalizing the curriculum for every individual user. Rather than having an overcrowded classroom of 30 children forced to engage with a one-size-fits-all approach, learners can choose subjects, modules and techniques which suit their own unique needs and interests.
Because DeEd takes advantage of modern technologies, programs of learning can be created which are completely unlike the pen-and-paper approach most of us are used to. Current DeEd projects are already constructing educational curriculums around interactive, gamified, peer-to-peer learning experiences, where students can learn by playing — a technique which is rapidly gaining recognition for its effectiveness by executives across a number of industries.
Major Shifts and Macro Trends in Decentralised Learning
The changing approach to learning is being driven by technological, social and economic factors, which all lead towards a more fair, accessible and equitable educational landscape.
The rise of blockchain technology and artificial intelligence has made it possible for regimes of learning to be both constructed and delivered with ease, coupled with the full transparency and security that distributed ledger technology engenders.
The rapidly evolving job market has created a higher demand for bespoke learning than ever before. Gone are the days where one would stay at the same job for their entire lives. Career changes are becoming more common, driven by sudden leaps and changes in technological advancement.
The spread of social media and interactivity on the internet is also driving the push towards DeEd, enabling current communication methods to be applied to the learning process.
What’s Happening in DeEd Right Now?
Major strides are being taken by a number of projects in the DeEd sphere. TinyTap, acquired by Animoca Brands, is an education-technology (edtech) project which currently offers a vast library of over 250,000 educational games in 24 languages. Primarily geared towards pre-K to grade 6 children, TinyTap recently veered into the Web3 space with its ‘Publisher NFTs’, which represent co-rights to one TinyTap course, and allow educators to reap ongoing, passive income every time someone engages with their NFT.
Hooked Protocol is a social learning platform that combines gamification and monetary rewards via interactive dApps like Wild Cash, which rewards users with cryptocurrency tokens for completing quizzes.
Open Campus is a community-driven Web3 protocol that uses tokenization to digitize educational materials, enabling teachers to monetize their efforts and gain ongoing compensation for their work — addressing one of the main problems identified by the World Bank as a reason for the current global shortage of teachers.
Open Campus recently launched a $10 million fund to incentivize the creation of learning materials in various formats, such as games and videos, which can then be published on platforms like TinyTap, with which it has embarked on a working partnership. Open Campus’ focus on community-governance ensures the decision-making process remains in the hands of the protocol’s users — addressing another problem currently plaguing the education industry according to the World Bank.
Outlook for the Education Industry
Education is just one of the many industries poised to be transformed by emerging technologies. Challenges remain, however, particularly around addressing digital divide issues, ensuring quality and consistency of education, and onboarding users to a technological plane they aren’t yet familiar with.
But given the revolutionary advancements it achieves in bringing accessibility, equity and inclusivity to the educational sphere — for teachers and learners alike — DeEd must be embraced by institutions and individuals to ensure the future of education is a fruitful one.
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