OAKLAND, Ca. (February 12, 2016) – Co-founders Josh Stanley and Ben Blair believe higher education is too expensive. Enter Teachur (teachur.co), a crowd-sourced platform that creates, organizes, and aligns objectives and assessments (i.e. goals and tests) for all learning necessary for a bachelor’s degree.“In 1984 it cost $40,000 in current dollars to earn a 4-year degree,” says Stanley. “Today that cost is $128,000.” They argue that much of this increased cost is to pay for stadiums, unnecessary buildings, and salaries for an unprecedented number of managers and bureaucrats.
They aim to strip away the excess and offer education in its barest form. This way they can offer a bachelor’s degree for $1000.
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According to Blair, “There is already an incredible amount of information out there and available to all. Everything you need to know to become a rocket scientist or economist is available online today, for free. Yet prices at college are still going up. The missing piece is indicating clear learning paths complete with all the objectives [i.e. goals or aims] for a given degree, and securely validating mastery.” In the past, this has only been possible within a college or university, but now Teachur offers complete degree objectives, and secure assessments to help students reach their goals.
Teachur doesn’t dictate how or where you learn the information. “All we care about is that you can prove, through assessment, that you have mastered the topic by taking a test, writing a paper, or completing a project” says Stanley. “This is no different from traditional higher education.”
Stanley and Blair are developing a new way to authenticate this knowledge by using the Blockchain. “Use of the Blockchain changes everything. Although it has not yet been used to verify online learning, we see great potential for it in education,” says Blair. Through Blockchain technology, Teachur can confidently confirm that work was completed by the individual purporting to have done it, plus a public record will be created showing that a student has mastered each specific objective for a degree. “A college transcript today only lists your courses and grades. But this doesn’t tell us much. With Teachur, not only will we be able to confirm a student has passed a course, we will create a public record to show exactly what they have learned. This is unprecedented in college. As you earn a degree with Teachur, your areas of mastery will be recorded,” says Stanley.
Blair hopes that Teachur will offer an alternative to a population who is being priced out of higher education, “We understand that Teachur is not for everyone, but the current university model, where the average graduate leaves with $32,000 in debt is not for everyone either.”
Stanley and Blair are thrilled to launch Teachur, and though, they argue, there is an immediate need for more reasonably-priced bachelor’s degrees, Stanley suggests the platform has the potential to be even more disruptive: “Our software breaks down a degree–and really any learning–into small parts that make the learning path clear and straightforward for individuals. By verifying student mastery of those parts, and documenting on the blockchain, we can simplify the process of getting a bachelor’s degree without diminishing the quality.” Blair and Stanley argue that this can open up education by offering much more freedom and flexibility to learners, and new markets and communities for professors, and spurring educational innovation in ways we can’t even predict.
Stanley argues that the key is de-institutionalizing education: “Education has been tied up in institutions, which have been great at preserving core learning paths, but their interests don’t always align with learners.” The result is tuition costs that have run amok, and the related student debt crisis. Teachur addresses this crisis immediately by de-coupling institutions from the rewarding of degrees. According to Blair, “This [Blockchain] piece means we no longer need a centralized body vouching for the degree. The Blockchain technology ensures that we retain a secure system, and secure identities, and allows the Teachur platform to leverage the knowledge and expertise of the community rather than require a centralized body to uphold the standards and improve the quality of degrees.”
To learn more about this project, check out Teachur on Kickstarter.
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