Invaluable diploma. An Internet original.


We all know that the current (public) education system was set up to produce the workforce for the industrial age and went on without much improvement ever since (some of the best Universities still measure their success by the employment rate of their graduates). This system is broken. Let’s get over it and look into the future. For us to be able to discuss a thesis for the future of education, one first needs to detach knowledge from institutional, functional training. To me, our ability to learn, communicate and be self-aware is what pushes the humanity forward.

Regardless of what we choose to do for a living (aka job), we continue to learn, thus, our “education” must not be linked to only a few years of preparation for a job. Instead, our ability to master new skills needs to be considered a life-long human feature that can be developed and upgraded over time, pretty much like a great piece of software. So why are our learning credentials not updated over time and remain limited to only a diploma and few certificates (for the lucky ones with access to schools, that is)?

Following this question, I (along with like-minded people) decided to dedicate my EdTech Master to researching and building tools for documentation of every human's learning experiences. The goal is to explore if it's possible to create a continuously updating “lifetime diploma” and ultimately free knowledge from schools and education labels (degrees). My job is to research how people learn in this mobile first world, then find ways we can incorporate documentation and new tech in building an online, self-updating diploma or “learner ID”. It's like a passport you hold, but instead of travel visas, you log in your major learning experiences.

There are several issues to solve, so this ID can work:

  1. Protocols (how to link existing knowledge / learning platforms with the learner ID);
  2. Validation (how do we make sure that what a person learned can also be counted as a skill);
  3. Interface (how do we follow the learner outside classrooms and into the outdoor learning environments).

On this journey, I am fortunate enough to work alongside Sophie Pene, a researcher who is doing awesome work in such domains as lifelong learning and the use of digital in education. Right now Sophie is developing a small-scale project, called "white diploma" (as in blank paper). This is the diploma a student writes over time, in accordance to what s/he is learning at the university but it's not dependent on any one single course or faculty. I am one of the first students in this experiment, and while it sounds exciting it’s still linked to a university.

Starting with the white diploma in mind, below are the first baby ideas for building a learner ID - Version 0.1

1. A web clipper for adding any lesson learned on web. Basically a bookmarking tool for all your online courses or reading discoveries.

2. A web profile, aggregating all the lessons, beautifully organized per discipline and within a timeline. 

Next step - playing with tech platforms, allowing bookmarking from any device / OS, including 3rd party apps.  

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That's it for Version O.1. Any feedback?