How web3 in Edtech will bring revolution in education
Web3, a decentralized, third-generation internet service bundle for websites and applications, has already created a lot of buzz. Its core areas include machine-based data analysis, the development of more connected and open websites, as well as compensation for user data using new technologies like AI, ML, and blockchain. Web3 profoundly impacts our functioning and allows the users to create large-scale content. Web3 is being promoted as a mass-tech movement, with its core pillars being crypto, metaverse and blockchain. The metaverse could become mainstream in the coming years, thanks to the rise of decentralized infrastructure. Virtual worlds can be built, and everything will happen exactly as it does in the real world, with better personalized and immersive digital experiences. Web3’s impact on the world has been immense over the past few years due to its “play-to-earn” model and unique NFT use cases. It allows individuals to make online decisions without compromising on the utility aspects. Hence, it is not absurd to think that web3 can dismantle problematic systems such as education. Though web3 is still in its infancy and needs to be refined, it is all set to revolutionize the edtech segment and disrupt the mainstream educational sector making learning more data and relevance based. Web3 in edtech will bring in the elements of smarter methodologies.
Both web1 and web2 use centralization to support all types of online activity. On the contrary, web3 uses decentralization for a verifiable transaction. What does this mean for education? Web3 is the next step toward a fair world where everyone can access intellectual opportunities.
With various versions of the internet, education has changed in the following ways:
- Web1 education is the same as knowledge transfer between approved institutions.
- Education in web2 refers to centralized platforms that distribute education.
- Web3 education is about individuals learning skills from multiple sources and validating them on-chain in their wallets.
Education has been something that only a very small number of people have had access to for most of human history. Although ed1 offered opportunities for socializing, research, learning, and measurable credentials, many people were left behind. There comes web3 in edtech that solves many problems persisting at present. Imagine universities being fractionalized so you could only earn the micro-credentials you need to advance your career. You also have the option of acquiring credentials that are transferrable across institutions and industries.
This article will discuss the impact of web3 in edtech and how it helps to embrace ed3 – the future education model.
- Challenges in current education
- What is EdTech?
- What does web3 in EdTech look like?
- Where does web3 in EdTech stand today, and why web3 matter?
- How does web3 benefit the EdTech space?
- How can web3 in education embrace the move to ed3?
- How will web3 in EdTech impact traditional education?
Challenges in current education
Current education faces three major challenges that web3 in edtech can help solve. These are accessibility, affordability and accreditation.
Accessibility is a significant hurdle in the present education model. Less than 7% of the world’s population own a college degree. Among this population also, there are many concerns about equity and inclusivity. Universities are often in the spotlight to ensure fair representation of all communities. The structure also limits access because most schools and universities offer education with two main constraints – location and time.
Many students face one of the major obstacles in education, which is location. One of these is many K-12 schools are located in specific areas. Though online university classes are on the rise due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many of these classes still require students to attend in person. Also, online courses from one country might not be available to students worldwide, so national borders remain a significant constraint.
In the present educational system, classes are offered in chronological order, with many classes starting in the fall, spring or summer. Students will have to wait if they miss one of these classes. For some courses, they won’t be allowed to complete a course if they are unable to attend the whole 16-week semester. Again, many courses are present in sequences, so if one is missed, the next course will take longer. Because of these reasons, accelerated programs are emerging.
Affordability is a challenge in the current system. Rising costs in education have led to an explosion in student debt which restricts future opportunities and makes students less likely to start their own businesses or choose the life path that suits them best. Many jobs will require re-skilling and reframing education as a lifetime pursuit. Many people still owe their university tuition, so it is unlikely that they will return to school for further training. This cost is likely to rise in 2022 if inflation is taken into account. This is a problem for governments that finance the overburdened state education sector and parents who pay multiples for private education.
Accreditation slows down change and allows students to learn what they need in the Knowledge Economy. For credit, courses must meet the Carnegie Unit, which is hours spent in a classroom. This standardizes how long students spend in the classroom but does not guarantee mastery. To increase skills in Knowledge Economy, we need to shift from theory to practice. Competency-based accreditation models could offer a pathway to reward mastery overclocking. Universities are now under greater pressure to improve administration, making up more than 50% of the payroll.
What is EdTech?
Edtech is also known as education technology. It’s the practice of using information and communication technologies to bring new learning opportunities into the classroom. Edtech allows teachers to support hybrid learning. This creates an inclusive classroom environment that offers access for all learners, regardless of their physical location. There are several benefits of edtech, as follows:
Edtech keeps hybrid classrooms connected
Remote learning is the best way to reap the benefits of technology in education. It is the ability to attend lectures or classes via video or audio communication. This requires edtech to keep the class engaged. A video conference can be set up to allow students to connect from anywhere in the world, making education accessible to more people.
Software for edtech allows students to be more productive
Edtech software offers remote learning a new level of flexibility. Students can access their work online and submit homework online through edtech software. They can learn as much or as little as they need to, so whether they have difficulty with a section or are really familiar with another, they can either move on or re-learn it. This allows students to customize their learning experience.
Edtech is a tool that helps teachers keep organized
Teachers can use edtech platforms to create digital repositories that contain teaching materials, videos and slide decks. Students can access them at their leisure. It is easy to see the material you have, and it saves time compared to looking through old paper resources. All classes that are taught remotely tend to blend into each other. Edtech makes it possible for teachers to arrive at each lesson and class prepared, even if they juggle several remote or hybrid classes.
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What does web3 in EdTech look like?
Web3 is still in its early days, but it has already started to disrupt every sector of the economy and art world. The education sector will also have to adapt to it, as web2 is gradually being replaced. It will require adjustments in everything, from curriculum to administration. This is a significant shift in how schools interact with digital content. All data, from grades to reports and medical histories, will be transferred to the blockchain. Schools will also be able to shape their infrastructure in new ways, and achievements will be instantly visible and verifiable. A school could create its own token to be used as the foundation of an internal economy system with which students and teachers can engage. This could be a way for schools to offset their budgets, reducing the need for government support. A similar development can occur with PLN (Personal Learning Network), which could evolve into a DAO, where international groups can steer the education landscape in new directions.
Where does web3 in EdTech stand today, and why web3 matter?
Nowadays, students are becoming more interested in skill development, upskilling and re-skilling. Edtech is being heavily promoted, particularly for youth to adapt to new technologies and innovate in their areas. E-learning is gaining more traction not only in tier-1 cities but also in semi-urban and rural areas. Due to the coronavirus epidemic, there has been a significant shift toward e-learning in the past two years. Now it is part of the mainstream framework for IT and technological education. Web3 matters for today’s education because –
- It is time to increase earning potential through a digital platform allowing content creation, monetization, and information sharing.
- Artificial intelligence is a method to develop self-learning and flexible education modules. It allows for self-sufficiency and evolution. The system also tracks learner preferences and habits to provide the needed resources and results.
- Users can personalize their learning experiences by adding their preferences, interests and choosing specializations. The edtech learning modules will allow users to personalize their learning materials and provide suitable data. Virtual avatars will be created from user profiles, which are representative of the online learning interests and preferences.
- IoT (Internet of Things), which will allow the integration of additional devices, will allow for easy internet connectivity without any location restrictions.
- Virtualization will help accelerate digital interactions of learners with their immediate environments through 3D images/inputs searching and using voice/smart-glass-based learning methods.
- Web3 will ensure decentralization of computing by eliminating centralization to information sharing based multi-server framework. Blockchain is one example.
How does web3 benefit the EdTech space
Web3 in edtech will benefit in many ways –
- Connected machines are more affordable and offer easier access to knowledge.
- Teachers will be able to create more personalized and engaging materials and assignments if they have the right resources. They will be able to assist smaller groups of learners or individuals with greater independence as students to become more self-sufficient. Teachers will gradually shift to evaluating student-generated content. Rather than students learning from teachers.
- Students can learn anywhere and anytime they want and spend significantly less time learning and integrating.
- Search engines will generate reports that combine information from multiple sources. They take into account different arguments and indicate the existence of related resources.
- Smarter searches are possible. They will deliver results that are tailored to the user’s preferences. This will help users save time and energy. Search engines will include resources for learning, such as lecture notes and videos.
- Agents for personal learning will emerge. They will search for information related to learning objectives and only report the relevant results. This will enable the delivery of relevant information/data via location-based solutions.
- The semantic web will be used to describe degrees and courses. This will make it easier for students and their advisors to transfer credits and find the right institutions for them. Connected platforms will allow people to collaborate more, while educational content can be used seamlessly with permission protocols. The same principle applies to the reuse of the content.
How can web3 in education embrace the move to ed3?
Web3 is changing the way industries work. From entertainment and financial services to art, they are being reshaped. This is a shift to decentralized technologies owned by users and builders. Education is moving in the same direction towards “ed3”. We need to expand the knowledge of everyone as we move into the Knowledge Economy. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a college or high school degree. We can make education more accessible, affordable, and easier to get accredited with new technology like web3. This is marked as AAA education, which stands for affordable, accessible and accredited education that prepares students to work. It needs to embrace the ed3.
Web3 technology and ethos offer new opportunities for education to be more affordable, accessible, and transparently accredited. Many innovative models of education are being developed that can be used as inspiration and blueprints for a shift towards ed3.
Education is fundamentally a community-based system with many stakeholders like parents, learners and teachers. University was originally a community for scholars and teachers. Decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) are opening up new avenues for collaboration in the web3. There are many ways to conceptualize DAOs.
DAOs in edtech will be the critical infrastructure that allows for decentralized education experiences. Education will change if we are able to bring together and pay both learners and teachers. DAOs could be used as learning centers. Students can join a group to learn about any topic that interests them. They can then apply their knowledge to the DAO and earn money along the way. DAOs are also a step closer to personalized learning. A young, ambitious artist could connect with other artists and receive peer feedback in real-time. A young woman who is highly educated may be more at ease with other engineers. They can exchange tips and help each other with their research. We can get rid of all outdated models like the carrot or the stick. Intrinsic motivation is the norm.
DAOs also make governance easier. The largest contributors often have a greater say in curriculum design and delivery. Imagine students having a strong voice in how tuition funds are allocated and what is taught. This would result in a significant shift in education engagement and completion rates. DAOs are involved in the community and meet its needs. Students can complete small, paid tasks called “bonties.” Students can gain experience through coordinated actions that solve community problems. DAOs will also be linked to hiring platforms. You could, for example, earn tokens within a DAO sponsored by a local business. These tokens can then be exchanged to buy a stake in your new employer. The future of education and work are closely linked. This is causing changes that are already taking place.
DAOs can unbundle traditional education experiences, opening up the benefits of ed1 institutions for the 93% who don’t have them.
Change in affordability
Web3 learning environments are permissionless. This contrasts sharply with gated learning communities like Harvard university or Oxford university, which have time and location limitations. A web3 architecture allows students in India to access open and free content from institutions worldwide. They can complete modules simultaneously, and web3 makes it possible for their credentials to be verified on-chain. They can also complete paid tasks (bounties) and show potential employers their skills. This is a step beyond the skills-based approach to education and into competency-based education. For example, students based anywhere can learn Solidity code and get paid. The accreditation can then be used to secure employment as a freelancer or a remote full-time job. COVID-19 has made it easier for remote workers to hire, whereas employers previously looked to local talent pools. This new range of opportunities includes learn-to-earn, freemium and paid online courses. These options offer many more benefits for learners than traditional access points to higher education which can be expensive.
Web3 is particularly exciting as it builds on all the web2 progress. Many web2 platforms have been crucial in opening up the scope for education and learning. In some ways, YouTube, which everyone uses, is one of the most important edtech firms. Similarly, such social network is available in web3 in decentralized forms, such as DTube and KARMA. These platforms directly pay creators with cryptocurrency, which means that incentives are aligned for creators and learners without the middleman taking a large cut. This allows educators to reinvest the profits and increase their production value. To maintain their position in a decentralized and more equitable economy, creators must sharply focus on creating exceptional learning experiences. Unit costs will also be reduced due to virtual and augmented reality advancements. It will encourage mainstream adoption into the metaverse, a collection of all virtual worlds that share continuity in experience and own IP creation.
Till now, intellectual capital was concentrated in large cosmopolitan cities like New York, London and Hong Kong. The network effects were localized. However, with metaverse, even if you are not located in these cities, you will get enhanced and more equitable experiences. A digital avatar is all that’s required to join the metaverse. Our ability to connect with young talent will increase exponentially if the barriers to entry are reduced, regardless of gender, location, or other biases.
Web3 has already opened new educational models that promote affordability. As mentioned, the learn-to-earn model is a new development in ed3 where students are paid to learn. For example, Rabbithole encourages people to take action and teaches them how to use web3 tools. Every action they take online is tracked in their blockchain wallet. Students can earn tokens by taking action that can be converted to their local currency.
Tokens could revolutionize the dynamics of teacher, learner and peer markets. Every educator knows that novices learn differently than experts. This means that the person who is one level higher than that you are is one to learn from. However, many feel significant imposter syndrome if they become paid tutors. This is unfair as there is huge potential in peer learning. Through peer learning, learners become acutely aware that they have to deal with stress and require solutions to the problems they recently mastered. Tokens will encourage and unlock peer learning. Reddit already tokenizes their karma points. There is no reason to stop this from being done for other strong communities, e.g., students working together to complete a curriculum with their teachers and peers. Each community decides what is most valuable and who contributes the most. Teachers will be highly paid while students can seamlessly create their own learning networks with global peers. This will alter the definition of what it means to be a teacher. More of us will become teachers.
Web3 also offers exciting new features, such as the ability to implement interoperable virtual goods. These can often be in the form of non-fungible tokens. While we can embed more formal credentials into the blockchain, students can also acquire NFTs to complete tasks and bounties. They will also be able to earn a variety of virtual goods, including fashion items, virtual land and unique skins. Students younger than 18 will be able to trade and collect virtual goods.
Students will also have access to micro-credentials that pay for the things they need, just in time when they need them. Micro-credentials can be used to schedule appointments, grow a Twitter following, and publish an article. The whole process can then be updated in real-time and gamified with badges representing what you have learned, which are sometimes called POAPs (Proof-of-attendance-protocols). Often students have well-developed skills. They might be able to write poetry in the ninth grade, excel at math by eighteen, or carve wood like a pro before they graduate high school. Teachers and other certified persons who witness this skill could award special badges, which would be stored on the blockchain for each student. Ed3 focuses on a question like “what way is a student smart?” instead of “how smart are you?” The future in ed3 or web3 in edtech promises transparent credentials instead of waiting for a university stamp to seal a piece or sharing multiple versions of what you know on different websites.
Credentialing can be done with tokens. NFTs can be used to purchase tickets for classes, community experiences, or other activities. These tokens allow you to charge the courses, connect students, and control access. The NFTs can be used to show the completion of courses and activities. Graduates earn an NFT, which allows them to continue accessing and benefitting from their work.
The NFT is also used as a voting token. The NFT allowed students to vote on how the funds were spent, such as which speakers were brought in or how they would be used to build the economy.
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How will web3 in EdTech impact traditional education?
The accreditation approaches mentioned for web3 in edtech are not limited to alternative education only. Competency-based education is the best model for web3 in edtech that will be able to work in traditional educational institutions. Since 1906, universities and high schools have awarded students according to how much time they spend in the classroom. After Andrew Carnegie, its patron and creator, this measurement is called the Carnegie Unit. These accreditation systems are less useful as learning becomes more synchronous and the Knowledge Economy demands faster knowledge acquisition.
Defining competencies can make traditional higher education more atomized. Students can acquire skills from a range of sources such as DAOs, ed3 learning platforms and the workplace. Peer learning is also possible. These experiences can then be combined to create a traditional degree using the competency-based approach. At the K-20 level, competency frameworks like OpenSalt are being developed. OpenSalt aims to make primary and secondary school courses more manageable. Students can then prove they have the competencies by completing courses and experience. Employers and schools can view and access the student’s skills by saving them on the blockchain.
This could lead to the atomization and reorganization of education.
- Families can move easily to other places and continue their education
- Provide stackable credit to allow for independent study, work and entrepreneurship.
- Talented students can be identified long before the standardized test.
Education is a human right and the cornerstone of human flourishing. Education with web3 will benefit the students from the knowledge we teach them, and they will be better equipped to go into the Knowledge Economy to make a difference in the world. By welcoming web3 in edtech, more students will be able to access, afford and accredit dynamic education that allows them to flourish and leave a mark in the world. Students can claim ownership of their education and realign the value chain for everyone, from educational institutions to employers and from students to parents. As we are just at the start of the web3 revolution, like all industries that are being reimagined with an emphasis on ownership and participation, education should also follow the lead.
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