Reinventing College with Bitcoin Education – Bitcoin Magazine
This is an opinion piece by Peter Conley, Product Advocate at Vercel.
Education is free.
It has been many years now.
In my self-directed quest to understand Bitcoin, I forced myself to learn more than at any other time in my life. More than any previous job, more than all of my undergraduate experience, and more than my full web development program at Bloomtech.
In essence, I learned more from “Bitcoin College” than from “real college”.
With the Student Loan Debt Relief Plan at the forefront of everyone’s mind, it raises many interesting questions:
- Is $80,000 for the hardware you can get for free on the internet worth the price of the credentials it offers you?
- Aren’t most undergraduate experiences just a four-year drinking vacation that doesn’t teach you relevant job skills?
- Why are these business professors who don’t own a business teaching business to students?
- Why is Keynesian economics still the norm?
- Is there a better way?
To answer the last question: Yes, I believe so.
Before laying out a vision of a specialized bitcoin-centric university alternative, let’s unpack the current set of university products.
Institutions will say “you get so much more than an education!” That may be true, but let’s explore what that “plus” actually is and how it can be delivered a la carte.
The Standard University Product Pack
Information and knowledge
The vast majority of knowledge you get in college comes from professors who haven’t participated in the open market in years. The textbooks you read have no incentive to provide honest feedback or editing because colleges require students to purchase them regardless of the accuracy of their content.
The cold, hard truth is that information has been trivialized and lumped into ones and zeros on permissionless servers that you can access at will; it’s actually free on the internet.
Further, I can argue that the knowledge you learn in college, by design and incentive model, cannot compete with information on the Internet.
Social life and personal development
A typical college student has poor sleep hygiene, eats processed foods, drinks to get drunk, and lives for the weekend. As a student, you subconsciously learn lessons about nutrition, dating, and lifestyle from “adults” who are four to seven years away from having a fully formed brain.
And they call this a higher education setting?
The only thing I learned in college was how to suppress my emotions with alcohol. Yes, responsible students exist, but they are not the majority.
Many dormitories were built in the 1960s and could be mistaken for prison barracks. Plus, you pay for all the facilities, amenities, and infrastructure that you never use and don’t care about. It’s quite a big package. Take it or leave it.
Sure, some campuses are beautiful and some top schools have great facilities, but they’re in the minority. Worse still, they are stuck where they are built; there are no options. You have to endure four winters in Boston to join the MIT alumni network.
Alumni networks can absolutely be a game-changer for your career. The problem is that they follow a Pareto distribution, which means the vast majority of the loot goes to the top, i.e. Ivy Leagues, Stanford, MIT, etc.
The return on investment of paying $200,000 to be an alumnus of Kenyon or Oberlin decreases every year. All the while, the value of proper social media is increasing.
I don’t know about you, but I’m 100 times more likely to help out and connect with someone I admire on Twitter than someone I have no connection to who graduated from my alma mater (SUNY Geneseo).
I’m of course the minority – for now, but humans like to help and work with people who share their interests. The sad truth is that I rarely shared common interests with the 5,000 students with whom I shared a college campus.
How to Create a Better College Package – For Bitcoiners
What if we could create a better bundle? Cheaper, more niche and students discover the most important asset of this century: bitcoin. Additionally, essays and the content they create while learning will not be stored behind closed learning platforms.
Students write to build an online audience—a network more valuable than any alma mater—and to gain valuable feedback to improve their skills.
Here is my view:
Knowledge and information
All information will be free. If a student wants to read “The Bitcoin Standard”, I bet if we ask Dr. Saifedean Ammous, he will give as much as we need.
We don’t specifically tell students what they need to learn, they follow their natural curiosity – as long as it’s bitcoin content – but to really learn and integrate it, they need to produce their own content. They should write about what they learned and share it publicly, or do a podcast about it or create a YouTube channel. Get market feedback and improve your communication skills.
No more writing college essays that never see the light of day.
Social life and personal development
You’ll cook meat, you won’t sleep in a capsule, and you’ll be angry that modern monetary theory is still a thing.
Seriously, you could create a culture and structure for students that focuses on healthy habits instead of destroying your brains and guts.
Sure, some 18-year-olds would choose Penn State over Bitcoin College to get drunk to oblivion, but there will be a small market for a true self-development environment. This will most likely weed out the lazy and attract those who want to grow and learn.
How do you do that? You create a marketplace for like-minded students to connect and make it easier for them to create a physical environment in which to study.
Network effects also work for learning subjects. Don’t you think that if you’re trying to learn French, you’d be more successful if all your roommates only spoke French? You would only watch shows in French or with French subtitles. You would speed up your pace of learning, at least. The same will be true for learning Bitcoin.
In terms of physical space, you don’t need to build anything. You can just rent it – or it can be free space.
Let me paint the picture for you.
Option A – Rental
Find a student housing aggregator like Unilodgers or even a dorm that has excess capacity. You and your fellow Bitcoin students also become roommates.
Option B – Local Learning Modules
There may be enough Bitcoiners in the same city and all they have to do is create an “education module”, like so many others have done during COVID-19.
The capsule could be in the basement of one of the student’s houses, or even in a public library. It all comes down to connecting with enthusiastic, like-minded students.
How to create this physical network? With a market for a personalized college experience, that’s why I’m building Unbundl.ed. It is effectively Airbnb for college alternatives.
This is perhaps the best part. You will enter one of the richest alumni networks imaginable.
Additionally, Bitcoiners are the most passionate and forward-thinking network on the planet.
If a kid comes up to me and says he went to my alma mater, I really don’t care, but if he tells me 50% of his net worth is in bitcoin, I’ll walk through walls to get it. ‘to help.
make it real
Is it possible or is it just a blog post?
It’s entirely possible.
This community could do it.
It’s time to take back the world from the overeducated and grossly undereducated.
This is a guest post by Peter Conley. The opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc. or Bitcoin Magazine.