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Is Giving Away $180,000 The Way To Hack Education?

A few years ago I came up with this crazy diagram on the window of my studio.

It was one of my ramblings about “how to solve education”.

I already knew back then that I was aiming for a moonshot… so I decided to let the idea grow freely, and wait for the moment in which the situation would be ready for my action.

So I spent the next five years trying different approaches to UX Design Education, which gave me the experience I needed. And today I’m ready to take the next step…


A new approach to education

“You never change things by fighting the existing reality.

To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”

― R. Buckminster Fuller


I believe that to hack the educational system we have to subvert it. This means to create an alternative, better way to educate people, away from the fordist model that we still use today.

My hypothesis is that the actual problem is not education, but the values in which we base the structures to educate.

Our current education system aims to prepare the individual, then what he does with the knowledge is up to him. The rest of society appears disassociated from the system.

I aim to generate a virtue-based culture: an educational system that creates the conditions for humans to evolve and generate positive changes for the collective in the process.


Three Principles

1. Work instead of study

To evolve, humans need to be put outside their comfort zone. To assume risks and expose to them.

When we study the traditional way, we get information that become diplomas or certificates. When we do things, we get real experience: scars.

Is no secret that those are the things that really change us.

And also, virtually every study that I checked out on Project Based Learning (PBL) shows results that help me think that this kind of learning is the way to go.

2. Teach them to teach others

The second principle has to do with collaboration.

I’ve seen that when people come together to create something, they not only learn by reading and checking stuff: they learn because they teach each other in the process.

This is perfectly connected to other of the things I observed from my practice as a mentor: teaching is without a doubt the best way of learning.

When we humans work together in a project, the knowledge of one becomes knowledge for all the group.

This is also totally away from the artificial atmosphere of tests that traditional education put upon us.

3. Make the experience worth something for others

As the third principle, I propose to change the actual result of the education.

Today, in most cases, we get a rubber stamp, a certificate and some kind of speech.

I’m not criticizing this… but it just make obvious that the learning process is something that starts and ends in the individual: the skills that he developed are still not tested in the field.

I believe that we can instead use the process to create a valuable output to help the collective.

This makes the learning experience a lot richer, and the whole ecosystem around improves as a result of our actions.


Testing The Model By Giving Away $180,000 In Consultancy Services

We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard

– John F. Kennedy


Today I’m applying all this theory in practice through an educational venture: Solutionants.

Solutionants is a UX Design Bootcamp in which we use the learning process for social good.

In it, students participate in a real project, with a real client under supervision of a mentor.

Each student will work with one companion, both will report to the mentor as a team.

The client will be an NGO that gets a full UX consultancy worth U$D 180,000.-

If everything goes well enough, everybody wins:

  • The students get practice and knowledge,
  • The NGO gets a consultancy that they can’t pay for, and
  • The world ends up better than it was before.

Good thing that I already did a first MVP edition back in 2014. I called it Solucionantes –because the latin-american students I was looking to have.

That experience gave me the field information that allowed me to implement some changes that I hope will make this edition even better.

Per example: to increase the commitment to the project, both students and the NGO will use Stickk, an app that will give their money to an anti-charity (like the National Rifle Association Foundation) if they fail to comply with their weekly commitments.

According to the behavioural economics study that the guys of Stickk used to create the system, adding financial stakes increase chances of success by up to 3x, and the existence of the referee increases your chances of success by up to 2x.

Ready, set…

Obviously, I’m very excited to start this new experiment and see what’s the result =)

If you want to know more on how things go from now on, just get yourself in the interest list.

And for those interested in knowing more about the methodology, I’ll be hosting a webinar to talk about how the program will be organized.

Just sign up in the interest list and I’ll send the details later:

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Thanks for sharing this adventure!

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