New York, NY—As I write this note, it is the first day of school for my son, a kindergartener and my daughter, a third grader. For the past several years I have been thinking about what education will be like for them as technologies like artificial intelligence and virtual reality, as well global hyper-connectivity transform the way we access and use knowledge. In this age of disruption education is an industry ripe for massive transformation and my kids will be right in the middle of that change.
Today’s education model is truly archaic. The primary education system forces kids to memorize information in order to pass standardized tests. University programs continue to skyrocket in cost and offer little in closing the skills gap in employment. And traditional degrees do not guarantee you will be robot-proof in the coming “automation apocalypse.” Education is a billion-dollar industry that deserves this coming massive disruption and reinvention.
How do we fix education? We make it fun. We make it personalized. And we make it free.
We already have the means to do all this. Education start-ups from all over the world are delivering personalized lessons for children and adults at a pace that is best suited for them. Twenty years ago, I was considered privileged that I had access to English lessons as a student in Eastern Europe. Today, the app Duolingo helps people around the world to learn languages in their own terms. In less than a decade we have seen technologies democratize and dematerialize access to educational resources. It won’t be long before a child in a remote area of the world has the same access to information and educational resources that once were only available to students at ivy league colleges in rich Western capitals.
Education and gainful employment have been at the heart of poverty alleviation on the agenda of the Global Goals. And while we aspired to close the literacy gap during the Millennium Development Goals in the early 2000s, we’ve now entered a new era of solution-making without precedence. It is this transformation of the global learning economy we feature in this special edition for the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly meetings, with a cover story by our own Chris Purifoy.
The idea was conceived earlier this January at the Swiss mountains, right before our Global Talent Summit, where for six years we have labored over solutions on the future of work and education. The clear mountain air inspired a unique view to the global education conundrums not just for our children back in the United States but for all those who have suffered displacement as refugees and migrants. With the advent of blockchain and cryptocurrency, the learning economy aims to fix education not by making it free but making it profitable.
Blockchain will unleash a creative revolution in education unlike anything we’ve ever seen. And in this new world we will be able to know anything we want, anytime we want.