Over the past three decades, the cost of a college education has increased 440%. The majority of these increased costs are not going toward improving the quality of the education but to build athletic stadiums, fancy campus buildings and salaries for bureaucrats and institutional managers.
Older generations remember working a summer job to pay for books and tuition. Today, in order for a student to earn enough for books and tuition at a summer job, he would need to make $50 an hour. Because of these rising costs, the burden of funding a bachelor’s degree has shifted to a student loan model. And the average graduate is leaving school with $35,000 of debt.
While the settings and extra-curricular activities for getting a bachelor’s degree have become more opulent, the basic ideas and learning paths to achieve these degrees have largely remained the same. The aim of a bachelor’s degree is to master a set of objectives and demonstrate competency.
With this in mind, we have asked: What if we separate the actual learning goals for degrees from the bloated institutions that sell them? Is it possible to tease out exactly what you need to know for a bachelor’s degree as its own offering separate from the university? How much would a degree cost without the marble pillars, the teams of bureaucrats and the multi-million dollar stadiums?
What if higher education had more options like this?
Jane wants to be a graphic designer, and started interning for a local design firm her senior year in high school. Her boss sees that she has great potential in the field, so hires her full time, introduces her to Teachur and offers to mentor her through the process. This way, she can learn on the job and be sure that she is getting a comprehensive degree. After four years, Jane has a degree, experience in the field and money in the bank.
Jorge never completed college, was offered a good job out of high school and was the type of person that learned well on the job. After 15 years in the field Jorge feels his opportunities for advancement are restricted by his lack of a degree. But Jorge has been learning a lot about the field over the past 15 years. He registers for a degree on Teachur, and by applying his on-the-job knowledge, Jorge can already pass 75% of the required assessments. Teachur guides him to fill in the missing gaps. He earns his degree within a year without having to go into debt.
Yuki would like to earn a college degree, but doesn’t have $50,000 and does not want to go into debt. She’s not interested in sororities, sporting events or a campus community. She’s interested in learning as quickly as she can and proving her knowledge. After researching her options, she decides Teachur offers exactly what she is looking for in a bachelor’s degree. Yuki earns her degree in three years, using her summer job to pay the $1000 tuition.
We will offer accredited bachelor’s degrees for $1000.
How is this possible, when the next cheapest online degree (we could find) is around $20,000? We are focused only on the essential aspects of a degree. Through Teachur, we are offering a new platform that creates, organizes, and aligns objectives and assessments (i.e. goals and tests) for all learning necessary for a bachelor’s degree.
- Create: We simplify the process by separating learning goals from pedagogy and extra-curricular costs.
- Organize: We break down a theme into small objectives that when grouped together into lessons and courses offer a learning path for the most complicated topics.
- Align: We align our objectives and assessments to those of respected institutions. In this way, an accounting degree (for example) through Teachur will entail the same level of mastery as one from other universities.
What Do You Need To Learn? Did You Learn It? Move On.
Where do you go for information? Library? Meet ups? MOOCs? Blogs? Local experts? Today, we have access to an incredible amount of information, including everything you would need to complete a bachelor’s degree. What is lacking is a way to organize that information to help you achieve larger learning goals. Teachur offers organized learning paths to help you get there. This is education in its most straightforward form: What do you need to learn? Did you learn it? Move on.
After you have mastered a lesson or course, you will need to prove your knowledge by taking a test, turning in a project, writing a paper or performing a task. This is no different from traditional higher education. You must verify your learning. And we’re going further.
Blockchain Changes Everything
What does a diploma or college transcript show? What courses you took? What grades you got? And how can someone else know that you, yes you did all that work? There are at least two problems here: How can we be sure that you did the work, or that the actual work was completed by the individual purporting to have done it? Another problem, perhaps even bigger, is that all you have to show for what you have learned is a piece of paper, that at most shows what courses you took. But we don't even know what you learned in those courses! We are solving both of these problems with one solution: We will use the Blockchain, a certain and verifiable way of proving someone is doing their own work, and a certain and verifiable way of proving that someone has mastered each discrete objective for a degree. Consider the value of an absolutely secure degree, and an absolutely secure public record of the mastery level of each specific degree objective. This changes everying. Although fairly new to the scene, the Blockchain is used by bitcoin, banks, and others to certify security. It is impossible to hack and is more secure than traditional assessment and verification methods. Not only will we be able to confirm a student has passed, we will create a public record to show exactly what they have learned. This is unprecedented in college. As you earn a degree with Teachur, your areas of mastery will be recorded.
What Are We Hoping to Accomplish?
We need to re-think higher education costs. If Universities know there is a $1000 option out there they might think twice before raising their tuition by $10,000 next year. We are under no illusions that Teachur even at its most successful will replace higher education. We come from a higher ed background and we know college creates clear benefits for society as a whole. However, we do think the way it is funded today by students taking on massive debt is unjustifiable. This needs to change, and we believe offering another option is a compelling tool to influence this.
We understand that Teachur is not for everyone. Many people do better with a more structured learning experience. And we get that. And we can point you to resources if you need more structure or guidance, or tell you that a traditional university environment is a better fit for you. But, let’s not forget that the current university model is not for everyone either. And a growing population is being left out, or left in a lot of debt.
By supporting this Kickstarter, you send a signal that the cost of a degree should be closely tied to, well, the actual cost of a degree.
Sending a signal that university costs have run amok may be reason enough, but our rewards on this Kickstarter may persuade even the most devoted to the current university model... Check out what we have to offer you!
Teachur Virtual Campus
Most buildings on university campuses are named after important figures in the history of the university, or major donors. To have a building named after you would cost millions of dollars--most of that goes toward construction. But with this kickstarter, you can have a building on the Teachur virtual campus named after you. Think [Your Name] Humanities Building, or [Your Name] Dormitory... While brick and mortar campuses spend millions of dollars on building construction and maintenance, your named building (whether Philosophy, Chemistry, or Parking, etc.) will directly fund work to improve or expand degrees on Teachur. This will be a permanent virtual campus map where students can explore and locate degrees. Claim your building!
With scholarships on Teachur, your donation will pay for one or more students to receive a bachelor's degree from Teachur. You can select a student of your choice, (and/or we can help you decide), and the student(s) will receive a full tuition scholarship in your name! This means the student will be able to take all required assessments for a given degree free of charge, all in your name. We challenge you to find any other school where you can provide a named scholarship anywhere near this price. Named scholarships will be listed on the Teachur site.
With endowments on Teachur, your donation will pay for two or more students PER YEAR to receive a bachelor's degree in your name from Teachur, in perpetuity. An endowment is an automatically renewed scholarship, at no extra cost to you. Named endowments will be listed on the Teachur site.
Risks and challenges
Since we don't control the accreditation process, all we can control is how well we align to accrediting requirements. Initially, we anticipate partnering with accredited programs that would reward degrees to students who passed all Teachur requirements for a given degree. We will also seek independent accreditation--though typically a program must be enrolling students for 2 years before you can even apply. To ensure we have done our part, from the get-go, we align our degrees to respected, accredited programs across the nation (e.g. UCLA, UT Austin, etc.) We will also be in close talks with accrediting agencies to ensure we are not surprised.
It may cost more to build courses and degrees than we have anticipated. We know that some degrees will take more effort, and some less, so we are basing our estimates on a projected average cost, based on the development we have done to date.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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