What is Cyber Futures?
(i) MARKETPLACE: Cyber Futures Marketplace will allow a student to plan out their education by setting out their career destination and having Cyber Futures online portal map out the different educational and geographic pathways to achieve through a variety of providers. Apart from the usual school/college/university offering, the access will be through an online portal as well as physical spaces in the community, both for the enquiry and for the content delivery.
(ii) PASSPORT: To enable the Marketplace to happen we have designed an Educational Passport: Distributed Learning Ledger based on blockchain technology. This allows for all stakeholders to contribute and take out from the pot by being recognised for their engagement, whether through hard tangible extrinsic learning (eg. certificates) or soft intangible intrinsic learning (eg. experience). The passport captures the value of the learning and articulates it in a knowledge token that can be exchanged.
(iii) EDUCOIN: The blockchain token that captures the above knowledge transfer is called an EduCoin which can have both financial value (eg. digital currency like Bitcoin or normal currency ) and non-financial value (eg. Microshare of you, a course, an organisation, an idea, etc). The EduCoin is to fulfil the United Nations SDG’s (sustainable development goals – #4 “Ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning”). It is part of a family of SDG Coins. It also allows investors who believe in each goal to buy into the educational value set.
Why Cyber Futures?
Sir Michael Barber presented at Universities UK his priorities for the Office of Students, commenting
Rapid technological change and globalisation continue to disrupt economies and labour markets, endlessly creating demands for new skills and new combinations of skill and mindset … Our students need to acquire, through continuous learning, the range of knowledge, attitudes and skills that will allow them to adapt and thrive as citizens in communities, as well as participants in labour markets. … Traditional degrees will no doubt remain important but accelerated degrees, degree apprenticeships and online learning may all play an increasing role. A combination of competition and collaborative learning will be required to meet the needs and aspirations of our students and our economy
The Cyber Futures project is aimed squarely at this vision and follows Barber’s five prong intervention plan.
Stewardship of the landscape – the Regulatory Framework: Cyber Futures has turned to blockchain to provide the infrastructure to enable this. The Educational Passport is a Distributed Learning Ledger which enables stewardship through vertical learning and the required flexibility to meet the needs the market does not yet know about. It captures knowledge procurement from both extrinsic and intrinsic sources on one ledger from across pre-11, secondary schools, further education colleges, higher education institutions, employer and CPD.
Engines of Opportunity – Access, Success and Progression: To achieve universal access requires both broadening the engagement (eg. democratization through BME, gender, age, etc groups) as well outreach to where the hard to reach communities can be engaged. This includes the more talented coders who are now more comfortable with hackathons, open space working, collaborative meetups, café culture, github, etc everywhere but universities which represent authoritarian institutions alien to their culture. Cyber Futures proposes not only online digital content MOOC’s accessible 24/7, but also physical spaces both within and external to the university. The latter includes Digital Hubs in Libraries, Smart University Innovation Hubs, Dev Ops Academy, Project Repositories, Cyber Futures Enterprise Hubs, Digital Acceleration Labs, etc.
Inspiring Teaching – The Teaching Excellence Framework: The TEF, Teaching Excellence Framework, rewards excellence but it is institution specific. Cyber Futures intends to fully participate in the 4th Industrial Revolution flagged by burgeoning paradigms towards decentralization of trust and distributed value networks. Our value is in the network itself and not a single point of access or failure. Within the Cyber Futures consortium, and our broader enlarged family at www.cyberfutures.net, we include universities, further education colleges, corporates, NGO’s, SME’s, civil society, foundations, and statutory bodies. Tangible certification and intangible knowledge procurement will be seamlessly accepted across the network allowing transportability and student options always talked about but rarely delivered in higher education.
Twenty-First Century Economic Growth – Employability and the Industrial Strategy: A 21st century goal requires 21st century instruments. We are establishing an education marketplace that everyone put into, and takes out of, the same pot through sharing economy. The Cyber Futures marketplace is the destination for content providers, learners, award providers, employers are brought together. It is a marketplace that allows the student to utilise a skills engine and match making service to plot a path through the education maze to their ever changing goals where the students are treated as citizens, consumers and future employee, and employers Building on another 21st century Fintech instrument that is dominating the coding agenda, the Cyber Future’s EduCoin is way the blockchain educational passport is enacted and rewarded, where Cyber Futures is the ‘free zone’ accepting EduCoins as a means of trusted knowledge exchange for both ‘hard’ formal and ‘soft’ informal learning. This education token would serve as a marker of quality contributing to increased reputation and institutional income, and as a means of exchange for products and services. Of primary importance in education would be the set of indicators and measures which would provide the evidence to enable particular individuals and organisations (schools or universities for example) to trade on a knowledge exchange. This will take the marketisation of education and the knowledge circular economy to a completely different level of play.
Seamless Transition – Setting up the new Regulator: To assist in the transition from old education economy to new, we intend to conduct a significant pilot of up to 1000 students. Within the Midlands area we have brought together a primary school, a secondary school, a further education college, a TEF gold university with a new digital campus, an employer, an awarding body, a Local Enterprise Partnership as well Local Authority, hard to reach communities like care leavers and BME women at home at both ends of the age spectrum, and a local employer. The Cyber Futures project, including the pilot, will have a live Impact Portal to monitor what success is achieved in real-terms, to benchmark against both UK but more importantly international best practice. The vehicle taking this forward into nationwide sustainable roll-out is the Cyber Futures C.I.C (community interest company) with multi-dimensional shareholders including the consortium members and match funders. In this way we will meet the digital skills that DLT, IoT, AI, VR, AR, 3DP, WYOD, BYOD … or future evolving technologies such as future cities, ultra-scale computing, biocomputing etc) demands of us.