How Technology Can Make Classrooms More Human: Replacing degrees with life

As technology gets better at doing jobs humans used to do, it’s important to revisit the role of humans in the classroom. I’ll be writing a series of articles exploring this topic.


What’s the purpose of degrees?

I think of them as a way of signaling that you’ve mastered a particular set of skills. They tell an employer that you’re prepared to do a certain job.

Grades and degrees have made the job market efficient for many years. However, it’s important to question their validity today. Are they still the best way to signal skills and values in the 21st century?

Before the internet

In a time before the internet, a time of file cabinets and mail, it made sense to have degrees. It made sense to have institutions –universities–dedicated to certifying people for particular skills. It was easier to show a degree than having to keep track of all you’ve learned, the work you’ve done, and having to send it to 10 employers at once. 


Today, it’s another story. Many students are already learning on the internet. Using platforms that automatically keep track of their learning. That are able to show a particular student’s profile to an employer in real-time.

Many others are blogging about what they’re doing to achieve their dreams. Blogs that show each one’s own personality and journey.

Aren’t these better ways to signal who you are and what you do? 


Think about this. Are we still using degrees because they are of value or because they are tradition? Let’s make education more human by encouraging diversity. More online portfolios, more blogs, more unique life experiences. Would you rather hire someone who has traveled the world while learning online, or someone with a traditional degree? I know I’d choose the first one every time.

Read more about technology and education here.

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