The Learning Economy began on a mountain in Switzerland at the start of 2018, on the annual Transfrmrs Club ski retreat at LAAX with an inspiring cast of forty or so thought leaders and innovators gathering before the World Web Forum and Davos. At the height of the first cryptocurrency bubble, blockchain was on everyone’s tongue. Over meals, drinks, and ski trips, thought provoking conversations spurred the crypto-conversation into the firmament above the Alps.
We kept asking ourselves: how can we create a robust, purpose-driven economy with blockchain to do something truly magnificent for the world?
One indisputable fact simmered within our minds—if we could mobilize a new commonwealth around a universal human enterprise, we could spark a global movement toward a mature and sustainable market dedicated to upholding that value. Value, it seemed, was at the root of it.
Later at Diplomatic Courier’s Global Talent Summit in Zurich, we discussed how to use blockchain to create value for people denied access to work, education, and social life because of their gender or class. We all left Switzerland with these ideas spinning around in our heads as we thought about how refugees and populations like them could benefit from a new cryptocurrency designed to serve their needs.
Back in the United States, we began having regular meetings to bring our new commonwealth coin to fruition. We quickly realized there was a huge hole in our plan to build a cryptocurrency economy to empower underprivileged women and refugees.
How can impoverished people use and earn money off our new coin if they don’t have any money to buy them in the first place? We had figured out who we wanted to give value to, but not how to actually capture and distribute that value.
Later in Los Angeles, when we attended this year’s Women of Courage celebration, the crypto conversation still buzzed between us. One of the women from Africa gave a powerful speech about her journey, about how no one from her town was given an opportunity for education, and how her serendipitous education allowed her to rise into her own agency and then become a global reformer in politics. She revolutionized social reform in her country with a tiny bit of education. What stuck with us was this—no one in her town even had an opportunity to learn, and yet it was education that was needed to empower social and economic change. Something felt incredibly broken.
Over the next few days a lightbulb went off. What if similar to how a market pays coins to blockchain miners, we could pay people to learn? What if we exchanged coins for completing courses?
And so, we modeled the Learning Economy’s logic to push us further along the evolution of value by creating a learning reserve in the coins market that pays Learn coins in exchange for completing educational courses. It’s a simple idea with a powerful implication. An economy that supports education is investing in the future of its people. As we conversed and mapped out how to build the learning ecosystem, the process rose toward maturity, reminding us once again there is always a second side to every coin.
We coupled Learn Coins with smart contracts we call micro-diplomas, empowering people to certify and quantify their education for their employers on resumes and earn Learn Coins while they self-educate. Imagine if instead of moonlighting for Uber when you need some cash, you just took a course to earn a few extra bucks. What if education could not only give you the skills needed to be successful, but also the money to take the time to learn and invest in yourself?
The Learning Economy empowers our generation with the opportunity to come into an unprecedented and invaluable agreement to be a part of an economy which pays the world to learn together.
That pays the jobless to learn new skills and get certified. That pays our elderly without retirement to re-educate for the new world, or earn sustainable income to live the rest of their life as they learn new languages. That pays the talented and motivated to quantify their skills for future employers and train themselves. That pays the underprivileged to learn critical information that helps them rise back into their own agency even within refugee camps struggling for educational resources or patriarchal societies denying women access to vital curriculum and jobs. The Learn Coin pays and empowers those disadvantaged with a new, sustainable economy through education—which can enable its people, in their own contexts and at their own pace, to learn how to rebuild their broken cities.
A lifestyle of people who buy and trade Learn Coins invests in our world’s future by paying people to learn. There is no greater investment you can make than education. Not only can this quantify value to employers, it builds an ecosystem of teachers constantly innovating to deliver the most enriching, impactful, and effective curriculum for learners all around the world. What if we as a people could make the investment in each other and ourselves? And the kicker is, the more learning coins we buy and trade, the more people learn and the bigger the learning economy grows.
Gold is an agreement.
The Learning Economy is our agreement to rebuild the most antiquated, broken, but important institution in human history.
Wisdom is the real gold.