When kids teach their parents

In the typical family structure, the parents usually teach and guide their children. But what about when the children teach their parents? Can they receive edublocks?

It happens everyday right under our eyes, whether it’s soft skills like patience, clear communication, and time management, as HayleyC notes:

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or technical training in areas such as social media that might improve their day jobs:

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How might this change the family structure in the future? If young people can earn edublocks at an earlier age, will that affect child labor laws? Does this benefit only traditional two-parent households? What legislation might need to pass to keep up with the changing definition of families?

Skills USA: Equity in an Edublock World

Despite the ledger’s exciting possibilities, what about user access? What if people can’t equally connect to the system? Players with Skills USA are thinking about this future. Here’s what they’re saying.

Dave said in a card:

Screen Shot 2016-06-21 at 9.26.09 AMDave brings up a great point here: not everyone has an internet connection. What happens to these people who do not? How do they remain credible and relevant in a ledger world? How do they get hired or make money without an edublock portfolio? Player Susanne added to this same idea. She said,

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Unfortunately, like Susanne says, people could get hurt if they cannot access the Internet of Things. Perhaps this is the future of the wealth gap. Instead of your wealth being tied to your geographical location or genealogy, your wealth would be based on your internet access. Those with poor access get hurt while those with easy access succeed.

Player HayleyC may have hit on a provocative solution.

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Should government provide free wifi? Could “Access-Ability” become a citizen’s right just like freedom of speech or press?

Is internet access integral to your ability to pursue happiness?



What happens to quality and higher education?

One issue that has been raised quite a lot is the concern for in-depth and expertise knowledge. To gain Edublocks it seems more beneficial to teach topics that are generally considered interesting on a broader level and thus attract more people, than focusing on deeper learning within a specific field. The consequences here would be that no one digs deeper into certain topics or become experts in their fields. Screen Shot 2016-06-21 at 9.12.59 AM Screen Shot 2016-06-21 at 9.08.21 AM

Another concern related to the lack of depth in knowledge is the accuracy of the knowledge itself. What does quality assurance look like in the ledger system and how are you held accountable for your teaching methods?

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Welcome SkillsUSA players! We’re so glad you’ve joined the game.

Together, thousands of young people at SkillsUSA represent 130 technical, skilled and service occupations. We’re so glad you’ve joined the game! #NLSC16

Screen Shot 2016-06-20 at 5.30.32 PMTogether, you can examine the future from thousands of different angles… and you can expand our view of the future by sharing what you see from your perspective. We can’t wait to see what you see!

More about the game here: http://www.iftf.org/learningisearning/

Is lack of hope the #1 challenge the Ledger could help address?

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The Learning Ledger world is by no means a utopian future. Players so far have played just as many “shadow imagination” cards as they have “positive imagination cards.” But every future scenario helps us explore possible solutions to current problems. What would the world look like, ten years from now, if we design and implement surprising solutions to the urgent challenges that we face today?

The Ledger is a possible solution to many problems — making classroom learning feel more immediately meaningful and relevant to students,  creating a more legible record of concrete skills acquired at every level of learning, building stronger connections between employers and students, and closing the gap between all of the knowledge we acquired in informal settings and the limited terrain covered by our formal academic records. But one of the challenges that an idea like the Ledger could be particularly well-suited to help address in Australia and New Zealand in particular is this:

A majority of students years 5-12 in Australia and New Zealand say they lack hope for their future. They don’t believe there is a clear pathway for their own success. They can’t see their way to graduation. They don’t believe there is a good job on the other side of school.

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How do you measure an intangible resource like hope? Gallup, the global research organization, specializes in the task. They developed a hope survey for students, consisting of six “agree or disagree” questions:

  • I can think of many ways to get good results.
  • I energetically pursue my goals.
  • I can find lots of ways around any problem.
  • I know I will complete high school.
  • I know I will find a good job after I leave school.
  • There is an adult in my life who cares about my future.

Gallup interviewed more than 10,000 year 5-12 students across Australia and New Zealand, and found that 51% of students are more likely to disagree with the statement above than to agree with them.

(You can download the full results of the Gallup 2015 Student Poll here.)

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One of the most important aspects of the imagined Learning Ledger system is that there are infinitely many pathways forward. The learning environment is bigger, more flexible, more affordable. There are clearer links between learning activities and earning activities. Anyone can be a teacher, and any place can be learning space, and any activity can be a chance to learn, to earn, or to do both at the same time.

Do you think a system like the Ledger could help build hope in students for their academic and career futures? What would a world look like where building hope for the future were a crucial metric of success for schools, libraries, and other learning environments? Play your ideas on this important challenge, and use the hashtag #TeamHope!

(By the way, this isn’t just an Australia/New Zealand challenge — in the United States, only 48% of students are hopeful, while 34% are stuck and 18% are actively discouraged.)

Find out more about the Gallup Student Poll here.



Welcome EduTECH players!

Welcome EduTECH players! We’re so glad you’ve joined the game.

You are a collective intelligence rivaled by no other: 8000+ innovators and decision makers representing the entire life-cycle of learning, from all levels of schools, tertiary education, vocational training, workplace learning,  and libraries.whoattends

whoattends-2Together, you can examine the future from tens of thousands of different angles… and you can expand our global view of the future by sharing what’s unique about the future of education in Australia, New Zealand, and across the Asian-Pacific region. We can’t wait to see what you see!

You’ll have 24 hours to play, starting at noon on May 31. Immerse yourself in the world of the “Learning Ledger”, and tell us: What excites you about this possible future? What worries you about it? If this scenario were real, and you were living in it, what would YOU do?

See you in the year 2026!

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The future is already different in Australia

We think about the future to find out what’s possible.

It’s not just an exercise in intellectual curiosity. Thinking about the future is a practical way to become more inventive, more innovative, and better prepared to change the world. To  create something new, you have to be able to imagine how things can be different. And the future is a place where everything can be different.

But sometimes we don’t need to go all the way to the future to imagine how things can be different. From where I sit right now in Silicon Valley (and getting ready to fly 7500 miles south to EduTECH  in just a few days!) Australia is already a place where everything can be different…. at least when it comes to making higher (or tertiary) education affordable.

Here in the U.S., the Australian model of linking learning with earning is considered by many to be a model for our own future. Here’s a recent summary from the Slate opinion piece “Australia gets student loans right“:

Australia offers students an income-based student loan plan, and has since 1989, when the system was set up to compensate for the fact that universities were charging tuition at all. That was a change. Higher education had been free in the 1970s and 1980s.

Today, there are two ways Aussies can choose to finance their college educations. If they pay up front, they get a 10 percent discount. Most don’t do that, however. That’s where where Australia’s income-based repayment plan comes in.

Australians borrow money from the government through the Higher Education Loan Program (or HELP—get it?) and related offshoots. When it comes time to repay the bill, the monthly amount has nothing to do with the sum borrowed. Instead, debtors earning more than AU$54,000 ($38,000) pay between 4 and 8 percent of their income, depending on how much they take home annually. Unemployment or illness? Salary falls under the minimum earnings required for repayment? No worries. Payments temporarily cease, with no interest or penalties accruing to the borrower.

Moreover, unlike in the United States, where students need to make strategic decisions whether to consolidate their loans at a particular interest rate because they will not get a do-over, there’s no such issue in Australia. The interest rate is set by the consumer price Index—that is, the rate of inflation.

Finally, making payments is easy. It’s an automatic deduction, courtesy of theAustralian Taxation Office. (This is how the expat loophole developed.) And, yes, a borrower can repay the loan early, if he or she so desires.

Another great thing? Unlike certain American politicians (Hi Marco Rubio!), Australian pols don’t complain about the number of philosophy majors running up debt they can’t pay off. If a student attends a public university in Australia—something the vast majority do—tuition is set, in part, by the course of study. The greater the expected lifetime income return, the greater the cost. So a degree in the humanities costs less than a degree in education, which costs less than a medical education.

I don’t mean to make this sound like nirvana. Australians are increasingly worried about the amount of student-related debt, which is growing rapidly. (One estimate has it surging from AU$50.3 billion this year to AU$70.4 billion in 2018.) That means students will owe more money, likely paying it off over a longer period of time. There is also concern over what those down under like to call “doubtful” debt—estimates are that 20 percent of students will never be flush enough to repay their loans, leaving taxpayers on the hook.

So while many U.S. educators, policy-makers and parents look to Australia to imagine our own future, now we have the chance to see what the view of the future is from the Australasia region.

This Learning is Earning game was  created to explore possible solutions to  urgent challenges in the United States learning landscape — including, near the top of the list, the growing cost of higher (or tertiary) education and unsustainable student debt. Now, we have this wonderful opportunity to zoom out and take a global perspective.

U.S. players see blockchain technology as a way to transform the finances of education. But what else can it do?Screenshot 2016-05-24 11.34.26

If you’re attending EduTECH, you more likely than not have a completely different set of expectations from U.S. educators about what is possible, what is plausible, and what is desirable. In other words: You, collectively, can take this game to the next level. So play a card — and show us how the future can be different!

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Learning is Earning 2026 Top 20

Here are some conversations that sparked a lot of curiosity and imagination among our players…. these are top 20 scoring collaborations of the game so far!

Coaching to help people choose a focus

Coaching to help people choose a focus

A future where a new career path opens up to those who can help learners navigate the unbounded learning opportunities inherent in The Ledger. Using taxonomies of knowledge, Big Picture Schools, and match.com-style apps for mentor matching, learners get coaching in everything from leadership and life management to identifying their passions and setting goals and development paths. “That would be an amazing job!”

Explore the conversation about coaching

Goodbye grades, hello experience points

Grades were done away with in 2021, become experience points

A future where learning is tracked through various platforms that make grading obsolete; instead, the focus is on motivation and engagement, leading to sabbaticals exclusively reserved for learning.

Explore the conversation about grades

Incentivization of wide skill sets

Incentivization of wide skill sets

A future where generalists are valued for not only being more creative and innovative, adapting better to changing environments, and are solid problem-solvers but are also happier in the workforce.

Explore the conversation about incentives

Universities will return your payment if their services don’t deliver

Universities will return your payment if their services don't deliver

A future where the value of the university is called into question…and quantified, leading to a slew of alternative business models as learners stay on the Ledger for longer and longer, delaying or even avoiding entirely entering into the “traditional” education system.

Explore the conversation about accountability 

Highly obscure/rare edublocks preserved and passed along by fringe learners

Highly obscure/rare edublocks preserved and passed along by fringe learners

A future where rare and highly sought after skills and competencies which might be difficult to learn (and are complex to acquire) surface. In addition, only a few teachers and mentors can teach these. These blocks are reserved for special highly sought after edublock apprenticeships and this requires a leveling up of blocks – but since the ledger is transparent anyone can see and find out what is required to get these rare blocks. A grey market actually pushes more learners to engage at a higher level and encourages more cross generational learning.

Explore the conversation about obscure knowledge

Assessing strengths 

We need an assessment tool along with this currency

This conversation explored a future where the Ledger, having tracked an individual’s learning, earning, and teaching over time, is able to identify an individual’s strengths and share that back with them. While some applaud this advancement, others worry about the potential consequences of having people only explore areas where they are naturally gifted.

Explore the conversation about assessing strengths

Artificial Intelligence makes the Ledger obsolete

Artificial Intelligence makes the Ledger obsolete

A future where we see massive human unemployment and the crash of the Ledger as Artificial Intelligence rises to prominence and slowly but surely takes over jobs. People turn to alternate, non-“work” activities as they start to rebuild society.

Explore the Conversation about AI


Measuring quality of experience

measuring quality of experience

How can we measure quality versus quantity? While nothing is better than first hand experience, a first pass includes a mix of peer endorsements and sorting via artificial intelligence.

Explore the conversation about experience

No ledger, no job

No ledger, no job

Could the Ledger, and profit sharing from skills, be written into job contracts? This cluster discusses a future in which employment decisions by both employers and employees are based on Edublock credit and usage–leaving those with no Ledger accounts behind.

Explore the conversation about ledgers 

Building in child protection

Building in child protection

A future where children start earning edublocks at the beginning of their education, but, due to concerns with privacy and possible issues with child labor laws, have a protected minor’s account, with restrictions on earning.

Explore the conversation about youth

What if The Ledger becomes corrupt? Could a generation lose….based on an experiment?

7. What if The Ledger becomes corrupt? Could a generation lose....based on an experiment?

A future where concerns about system failure are addressed by robust, redundant, reliable systems, emphasizing open standards, no single point of failure, and even quantum computing is invoked, creating a holographic system where every Edublock has an encoded description of every other block. Scaling up decreases the potential for corruptibility because more people (or machines) verify the data. Still, The Ledger is not a complete system, just as the internet is not a complete marketplace.

Explore the conversation about corruption

Commodification of leisure activities

Commodification of leisure activities


A future where a tension arises between doing things for fun and doing things for credit, leading to a flurry of innovation and mandated “down time” for everyone, and a number of educators and institutions crying foul, as they defend the ability for their programs to be simultaneously fun, relaxing, enriching, and educational.

Explore the conversation about commodification of leisure

How do employers make sense of all this? Infinite block options create confusion…

How do employers make sense of all this? Infinite block options create confusion

Employers wonder how they might navigate a diverse landscape of EduBlocks. It should be possible to wayfind though a mix of top-down branded blocks from accredited institutions, and bottom-up crowd sourced sense making. What it really comes down to though is compelling storytelling. How does a potential employee tell their story, and how does it fit in with the employers narrative?

Explore the conversation about the employer’s perspective

 Degenerative brain diseases=losing your edublocks

Degenerative brain diseases=losing your edublocks

A future where your Edublocks are linked to your current capacities and capabilities, and as your memory fades, you get out of practice, are injured on the job, or in any other way lose that skill, you lose access to that edublock. Refresher courses pop up and “re-certification” firms abound, as well as personal Edublock archives, preserving a view of skills past. However, people always retain access to the Edublocks for what they have taught, and the residual income supports them into their old age.

The card that started it all: What about people with degenerative brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s – can you lose edublocks as you lose access to that information?

Explore the conversation about longevity

Being in the moment

Being in the moment

A future where the Ledger picks up on and awards you Edublocks for your unintentional or peripheral learning while also feeding you recommendations of what you should be learning next.

Explore the conversation about being in the moment

How does everyone have access?

How does everyone have access?

A future where the Ledger becomes the center of several initiatives to reach people who previously weren’t connected with traditional education systems or for whom the system didn’t work. But as outreach ramps up, so do questions about pushing the systems and values on others, and the possible dangers of intervening with different societies or ways of life.

Explore the conversation about accessibility

 Love the Learning, What about the earning?

Love the Learning, What about the earning?

This big build relates to the question of incentives. If learning is linked ever more closely to earning, where does that leave us in terms of intrinsic learning?

Explore the conversation about earning

Build the system to ensure inclusion…don’t want to become lost arts

Build the system to ensure inclusion...don’t want to become lost arts

Rare skills that require hands-on learning will increase access to edublocks and employment opportunities.  How could the ledger define experiences that are not yet quantified by/on the ledger?

Explore the conversation about inclusion

Seeing Clear Learning Paths

Seeing Clear Learning Paths

A future where the data from the Ledger unveils the multitude of pathways to jobs and gigs. People who once thought they were stuck in dead-end jobs or had no marketable skills are altered to how their experience can be applied differently, allowing us to redefine the types of learning pathways we most value and promote.

The card that started it all: People can see clear learning paths (or better yet, varied learning paths) to specific jobs.

Explore the conversation about pathways 

Integrating legacy into the ledger

Integrating legacy into the ledger


But what about the learning that happened BEFORE the ledger? Doesn’t it count? This is the question millions of people will ask themselves in 2026. One idea is that we will  “test out” via pre-Ledger certifications. This could kick off  a boon of legacy certification systems and more. The transition time will be challenging, to be sure.

Explore the conversation about legacy 


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.


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?

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

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

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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?


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.