“What is decentralized education? What is centralized education? How does this really impact me?” are some of the initial reactions proponents of decentralization regularly field. Once the concept is explained, additional lines of questioning arise often.
To grasp the true meaning and value of decentralization one must first have an understanding of centralization and the current educational ecosystem. Most higher-education institutions have strict requirements on staff credentials, curricula, and required courses for students. If you want to learn computer science you must also dedicate your attention to “general education” topics.
Traditional degrees take years to acquire and require students to conform to the expectations of whatever program they are pursuing “certification” in. Since the course-ware is strictly governed it is often outdated, as well as narrow-minded in approach. Technology changes constantly, and often by graduation the concepts one has spent four years learning are archaic.
Teachers in the centralized realm are often forced to ignore concepts that are relevant but are not part of the “standardized” testing. Students that find passion in subject matter must pursue it in their free time, while still ensuring that they know what is expected of them. The decisions regarding these expectations aren’t set by students, but by overseers that are removed from the real-world applications of these skills.
Decentralization shines in that it truly gives power back to the consumer. There are no standard governing bodies that decides how and what content should be taught or learned. Information is not meant to be simply regurgitated back at instructors, but actually mastered. Mastery requires making personal connections to information – which only happens when students are free to learn as they choose. Content can be curated and maintained by experts in the field, which can include the students that once used it to progress their skills. Students can focus on what they want to learn – such as Java, or algorithms – without getting interrupted into other fields.
The teachers themselves are different in the decentralized model. There are no requirements of specific teaching degrees or certifications. Teachers are people who are passionate about their knowledge and are looking to share it with others. Students can get feedback more readily than the typical week-long feedback loop that standard educational institutions are stuck in. Instructors not only provide “Pass” and “Fail” feedback – but explore ideas further with students to encourage active processing of the concepts.
Centralization activists argue that decentralizing unnecessarily complicates student’s ability to socialize and network. While there is a difference between in-person and online interactions, many decentralization startups and systems actually enable students to expand their community and/or network more than they normally could. Decentralized education is available world-wide, to many people who wouldn’t have access to any education without it. With modern technology access to someone around the globe is instant, providing people resources they normally would never dream of accessing.
Learning from up-to-date material with help from experts in the field is great, but doesn’t quite add up to a degree. This is where certification programs come in to play. Certifications cut right to the chase and propel you in the direction you're pursuing. If you want to get certified in a programming language, prove your competency to an expert in the field and get a credential. Many companies providing decentralized educational opportunities can provide some certification for employment purposes.
Decentralization inspires innovation and curiosity by allowing individuals to learn their way directly from the professionals they aspire to be.