And then there’s the question of privacy…

Yes, privacy matters. While some of you see privacy as a lost cause already, many, MANY of you raised the issue of privacy. In an internet world where we’ve seen the impacts of public shaming, that seems like a good starting place for starting the discussion, especially given that edublocks are your profile of skills, competencies, and interests in this scenario.

shaming

There were many questions about privacy tools and approaches to managing privacy, and whether that could be handled in The Ledger scenario at all…but more on the technology below.

First, let’s look at one of the biggest concerns: kids and privacy:

kid edu laws

Is The Ledger a lifelong record of learning and when does it begin?

kids 13

There are, in fact, laws about protecting the privacy of children’s educational records:

kids 13

But independent of laws, kids’ privacy is one of the big challenges that worried many of you.

kids 1

Another privacy-related issue is the QUALITY of education, and the quality of learning represented by an edublock. How can you compare the quality of edublocks and ultimately their value if they are not public? Some see radical transparency as the solution, but it’s not a satisfying answer to everyone:

quality control

For some, opt-in/opt-out choices—where you pay for privacy—might be a solution. But paying for privacy raises questions of equity, too.

opt in-out

And then there’s the question of whether analytics that run on top of The Ledger–for example, to predict future performance–would ultimately disadvantage some or even disincentivize some. Who could run those analytics and who would have access to the results?

analytics

Now for what might be the GOOD NEWS: If edublocks use a blockchain technology, issues of privacy may be a lot easier to resolve than on the open internet. Blockchain architectures are designed to be both private and transparent at the same time. They are designed to put the owner of, say, an edublock, in control of the encryption key for that block. Individuals own their own data and only make it public when they want to.  (At least, that’s the theory.) Of course, The Ledger and edublocks are just a scenario, and we don’t need to debate the details of the fictional technology to acknowledge that in any world where we trade our public records for credits, for money, for reputation, and even for friendship, privacy matters.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Ledger of Ages

As of early afternoon today, we had over 1000 people contributing ideas to the Learning Is Earning 2026 vision. Just in case, you’re wondering how we skewed by age, here’s a pie chart of age groups:

earnlearn 3.9 early PM user ages

The right side of the pie is folks under 35. The left side is those over 35.

Now, some big caveats. Not everyone created a user profile with age information…in fact, more than half of you didn’t list an age. So we don’t actually know if this chart is representative of the group as a whole.

Also, the age intervals in the profiles weren’t even, so we did a little data massaging to get them more or less comparable. Don’t try to write your masters thesis based on these numbers!

But it’s great to see a wide range of ages engaged in imagining a future where there are new opportunities–and new challenges–for learning and earning.

The Future of Degrees

Degrees are the traditional currency of education: from high school through graduate school, they buy access to jobs, earnings, and influence. In the 2026 world of The Ledger, though, traditional degrees are seen to lose their value for a number of reasons.

First, the rapid pace of change challenges traditional degrees. Often, by the time you earn them, the learning they stand for is obsolete. So argues klansing:

learningearning degrees 1At the same time, degrees tend to discriminate. They are expensive, and they stratify the workforce. Many players argued for the democratization of degrees, but smachaje took the bold stand of actually making it illegal to specify a degree requirement for a job position:

LearningEarning Degrees 3

Perhaps most persuasive, however, were all the people who simply saw degrees as too blunt an instrument for matching diverse skills and talents with the complex problems to be solved and specialized tasks to be accomplished. People like Deborah Chad wanted to focus their energies on “exact skills”…

LearningEarning Degrees 4…and many others pointed to the need for micro-degrees, nano-degrees, specializations, and “thin-slicing” of knowledge. And as these designers of  learning in 2026 reimagine degrees, they also see games as the prototypical platform for learning and earning. Here’s Kate Crooks:

LearningEarning Degrees 2So small…accessible…adaptable…fun. The future of credentialing?

The Travel Ledger

The on-demand work culture is creating more mobility. Workers aren’t tied to particular organizations in particular communities for long periods of time. This shift sets up the conditions for more mobility and travel, and travel itself becomes a source of edublocks…as well as a potential source of income.

Foresight Engine Card: In Response To:  Could we include alternative forms of education? Not every person or every subject is best taught in a classroom.  Absolutely. One alternative would be learning abroad. Instead of traveling being often an expensive rare experience, I would travel to earn.In Sarah M’s imagination, edublocks seem to create a virtuous cycle, where people get paid for learning that happens when they travel, and that learning, in turn, increases their edublock assets, which might be spent for additional travel…and more learning.

Travel has always been a source of learning, and some people have managed to make it a source of earning as well, serving as guides for those who will follow them:

Foresight Engine Card: In Response To:  I would be rewarded for being a great world traveler (not your everyday job skill) and have a chance to grow this skill even more.  World travelers share their experiences with travel outlets which provide them Edublocks & help them to earn. What a fun job!But in a future where The Ledger documents the quality of learning and the value of it in both monetary and cultural terms, there are other benefits:

Foresight Engine Card: In Response To:  What would YOU want to do in this future? What great things could happen?  I feel like the global community would be much closer. Travel more accessible. Borders become obsolete. High quality of optionsIn this future, travel might replace the campus as the default “mode” of both learning and earning.