Funding education with personal currencies
An opportunity for success-based private contracts
Personal currencies may enable Resilient Places to spread skills through results-driven agreements, without recourse to taxation.
The approach involves mixing established ingredients – including alternative currencies – in new ways. The key elements are:
- (Re-)introduce the founding idea of European universities – whereby students themselves hire teachers – as a way to accelerate mastery of middle school, high school and more advanced skills;
- Identify a network of well-regarded offsite and onsite learning providers, including teachers, tutors, Internet-savvy homeschools, virtual charter schools, etc. that are willing to offer high quality courses; and
- Set up a system of personal currencies as outlined here (inspired by Douglas Rushkoff’s keynote on Radical Abundance opportunities at the 2009 O’Reilly Conference). In essence, such currencies would be hour–denominated personal “gift certificates” of time, with the option to convert into tangible goods if the user so desired.
Student–issued time vouchers could specify the number of hours that the student committed to deliver indicated services (e.g. research, keyboarding, digital photo captioning, raking leaves, etc) they deemed to be of value.
How it can work
Let's explore an example. A self-organizing group of students seeks to gain competence in a given skill – say Spanish language, animation, solar panel installation, programming in Processing, prototyping with Arduino, or Google Sketchup model creation. They go online to a web site set up by supporters of resilient learning in the community.
At this site, the students and their parents review a network of onsite and offsite learning providers, their quality/proficiency guarantees (including validation of student skills via independent tests such as Brainbench.com), and their compensation terms.
Students, again in consultation with their parents, then shortlist the most promising of the candidate providers and prepare a request for proposals. The request sent to potential learning partners outlines the personal currency offers from the individuals who seek skills. The skill-seeking students and jobseekers indicate via their personal currencies the number of “service hours” – redeemable in specific telework or onsite community services – that they are prepared to deliver to the learning provider, or to mutually agreed third parties, upon achieving measurable gains in skills.
On receiving the invitation to bid, the shortlisted learning providers review student-prepared profiles of the aims and the existing skills of the interested student(s). They consider the anticipated value of what the learners have proposed to exchange for a learning partnership to boost their skills.
If the opportunity looks attractive, the invited teachers would describe their proposed online and/or offline teaching program, and the proposed success milestones to be used in a results-based learning contract. Once an agreement had been reached by the students and the learning providers, the learning could get underway.
As soon as independent tests confirmed the new skills gains, the learning provider could opt to directly receive the services, assign them to agreed third parties, or post them at an online auction site for conversion into cash by organizations in good standing with the community.
A benefit of this approach is that it could result in students obtaining valued skills without adding to local tax burdens. It could also enable each student build a track record of service delivery, with feedback-based reputations and project references.
Visible feedback and references of this kind can help students pursue both local and global work opportunities. In their communities, track records can be readily shared if so desired via cameraphones with facial recognition lookup capability (see personal currencies using Augmented Reality on cell phones). Similarly, credentials and references can ease the entry of students in reputation-driven global markets for telework, such as VWorker and Elance.
Credentials and reputations built through such a market-driven learning system would also add value to any branded personal currencies that students may wish to continue issuing in the future.
Resilient Communities are prime candidates to introduce such a system. As fiscal strains grow and public school systems falter in communities across the country, seeds from initial demonstrations may take hold and spread.
Down the road, such a system might tie in with challenge offers by philanthropies to encourage new land grant endowments for education in communities. Scenarios for this – and for awakening the value of the sites through targeted policy reforms – are described in Openworld slides on seeding resilience and white papers such as New Catalysts for Sustainability.
Stakeholdings in such community-provided land grants might grow for students whose skills improved under the new system. This could provide them with assets in proportion to their success.
Related MiiU Links
- Helping nonprofits via personal currencies
- Vesting students as co-owners of learning ventures
- in preparation
Keywords personal currencies, peer learning, learning circles, eLearning courses
"A Tool for Building Resilient Cities" by Venessa Miemis []
This page has been created by the Openworld Team