The Value of University Education in the Age of bitcoin

The Cost of University Education

University education in the UK has become increasingly expensive, with many students graduating with significant debt. Tales of students leaving university with £90,000 ($115,000) of debt are not uncommon. This raises questions about the value that a university degree provides in relation to the cost. Furthermore, the majority of students in the UK now have part- or full-time jobs to manage the expenses. However, this often leads to a lack of time and focus on their university studies, hindering their ability to develop critical thinking skills and fully benefit from their education.

The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic

In addition to the financial burdens, the COVID-19 pandemic has further disrupted higher education. The line between in-person and online education has blurred, making attendance and engagement a challenge. With the option to catch up on lecture recordings and access extensive material online, students may feel less inclined to attend in-person classes. This has created a dilemma for universities in terms of how to maintain student engagement and promote effective learning.

Potential Solutions for Higher Education

Earning Digital Badges and Progress Tests

To address the issue of engagement, universities have explored options such as earning “digital badges” for completing activities or attending sessions, as well as implementing progress tests throughout the modules. While these approaches have the potential to increase engagement, they come with significant costs and administrative burdens for staff. Additionally, if these tasks become too mundane, they may fail to achieve the desired engagement levels.

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Challenges with Independent Learning

Modules that require independent learning, such as dissertation modules, present a unique challenge. Students need to develop research skills and choose relevant topics early on to effectively plan and design their projects. However, despite introducing weight-bearing proposals and staged deadlines, students often express regret for not starting their work earlier. This highlights a need for innovative approaches to promote early engagement and effective project completion.

Introducing Financial Incentives and bitcoin

Another approach to promoting student engagement is the introduction of cash prizes for the best work. However, this may only appeal to already engaged students and may discourage those who feel they cannot compete. To address this, a potential solution could be a “treasure hunt” where students are required to cover specific material online and attend in-person sessions to complete the challenge and win a prize. This is where bitcoin comes in.

Engaging Students with bitcoin

The idea is to embed a bitcoin wallet seed phrase within module material to promote early engagement. By introducing the challenge at the beginning of the module and strategically placing the seed phrase within specific material, students would be motivated to attend sessions and review critical content to have a chance at opening the wallet. Staging the availability of material reduces the risk of students rushing through all the content and allows slower starters to catch up gradually.

This approach has low costs associated with it, apart from the bitcoin itself, and it minimally impacts the module material. Furthermore, it introduces students to bitcoin-related terms and requires them to download a wallet, restore it from a seed phrase, and complete a transaction. This not only familiarizes them with bitcoin but also demonstrates their ability to use the technology.

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A Subtle Approach to bitcoin Education

While the direct aim of this university program is not to “orange pill” students (persuade them to adopt bitcoin), it leverages the network of the lecturer to introduce the topic to a large number of students. Trust in the information provided by lecturers can lead to further discussions and individual follow-ups to deepen students’ understanding of bitcoin and its implications.

This approach aligns with the constructive alignment learning theory proposed by John Briggs, as it promotes student engagement and project formulation while still allowing time for completion. The indirect “orange pilling” occurs as students become aware of bitcoin, learn how it operates within its network, and potentially embark on their own bitcoin journey.

By incentivizing engagement through a treasure hunt, all students start from the same point and have the opportunity to win the prize. Even those who do not win still benefit from increased engagement, which is a positive outcome for higher education. The ultimate goal is to create a more meaningful and enriching university experience for students while introducing them to the world of bitcoin.

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By Team