4. Educational Building Components in L2G
This analysis is centred around 3 essential building components in L2G: content, testing and rewards. It is maybe unsurprising that this industry presents us with yet another trilemma as all the examples analysed excel at one component but no-one manages to fully coherently put them all together.
To the 3 basic components, I am going to add 3 building blocks that shall help us lay L2G onto more solid educational foundations: Direction, KYL (know your learners) and a core principle, Lack of Bias. Let’s observe these and the essential components in detail.
Content should always be useful and accessible. The presentation should ideally be vertically tiered (starter to advanced), and horizontally categorized: (DeFi, NFTs, P2E, DAOs etc.). Particular attention should be paid to the way content is presented and delivered when onboarding (imagine the extreme case of a course in setting up a wallet that requires a wallet to get access to). Finally, and most importantly, content should be unbiased, something we will address when discussion Lack of Bias.
When building an educational design outside of the confines of traditional schooling and educational institutions, it is very easy to overlook testing. I want and need my users to learn but I don’t want them to be put off by excessive testing, as that might very well mean losing them. In L2G, testing should never be a hindrance to the user but the solution is not to remove it from the equation altogether. Instead, testing should present a challenge to the learner as well as a chance to review things that have not yet been fully digested. No parts of the process should ever be frustrating to the user (excessive number of questions, limited time, hyper-severe re-attempting system, etc.), including and actually starting from the feedback they receive. ‘You failed, try again in X minutes/hours/days’ is simply unacceptable as an outcome, in a classroom as well as in L2G. Newcomers will need guidance and no test (pass or fail) should overlook this stage: ‘You failed this time, but here’s a list of links to get ready to try again in X minutes/hours/days’ is much inducive to learning. Specific suggestions for what a test should look like are beyond the point of this paper as each and every educational endeavour in crypto will probably benefit from tweaking the different building blocks in different fashions, including testing.
One could wonder why we would need to reward users for learning things they benefit from in the first place. After all, improving oneself is enough of a reward, right? But then again, are good learners not rewarded for their efforts in traditional education?
First of all, society indirectly rewards hard-working learners by offering them better opportunities in life. I am aware of the massive simplification I am falling for here but there are grounds to believe that the Eduverse will in fact address issues of inequalities in education.
In more direct terms, we could argue that being paid to learn sounds utopian but I wouldn’t dismiss the idea of L2E at least partly coming to fruition in the Eduverse. Think, for example, of specialized and technical jobs that a number of industries are struggling to recruit for: earning systems and other incentives might be a way to remedy the issue and push people towards otherwise unappealing fields of work.
Finally, claimable rewards are the lubricant that oils the crypto engine and education should not differ.
The argument then must focus on the nature of the rewards we can offer to our users/learners with Proof of Education. Once again, I will refrain from making specific recommendations as one’s Educational Direction would inform how rewards are handled. I will however dwell on some options here and provide suggestions for integration later on. Whatever the final outcome, rewards must balance challenge and incentive. With too big of a challenge, no reward will be enough as a real incentive; too small a reward wouldn’t generate interest, no matter the challenge (though it is easy to imagine specific examples of education many would seek even without a reward, such as education on basic tools).
The L2G solutions analyzed offered some binary alternatives. For example, rewards can be given in-house or externally outsourced, but it is the distinctions around the nature of the reward that provide more ground for discussion.
It is easy to assume that fungible tokens, being fungible, make for better rewards for newcomers as they learn, earn and can then possibly use the reward acquired in the ways they were just educated on. However, I will argue that rewarding users with a fungible token is not the most desirable outcome, for a number of reasons. First and foremost, it reiterates and consolidates the L2E narrative and moves us further away from L2G solutions for onboarding. Additionally, we will never be able to escape the question as to what token should be used for this. On what blockchain? Why not any other cryptocurrency?
NFTs are unquestionably better rewards, but more issues arise as seen in the analysis of current L2G attempts. These NFTs could represent certificates released to a learner after passing a test but access and security become crucial aspects: can learners be expected to pay hundreds of dollars to mint a full CV? And can you imagine somehow losing access to your CV because of a faulty or congested blockchain? I see the creation of a dedicated blockchain optimized for people to store their professional and educational records in NFT form as a very desirable outcome for this industry, one that could possibly lay down the foundation for a Web3 job market to really explode.
Any project willing to provide education in web3 will have to have some form of Direction.
This should not be seen as a form of centralization. After all, crypto makes the notion of a decentralized market instantaneously simple. The same doesn’t apply to a decentralized school, or a game, as seen in P2E.
Core elements of what this direction should be are intent (e.g. provide work opportunities in web3, onboard users to P2E, in general: do no harm!) and design, i.e., the tweaking of the building components to improve standards of education by educational experts.
KYL (Know Your Learners!)
If we are to scale up L2G past its currently episodic state, education providers might benefit from systems of pre-testing to place learners in the environment where they can learn what they need the most. This should not be seen as a form of gating as it is aimed at providing an identikit of a learner and a snapshot of their current crypto level.
Lack of Bias
No matter how strong our beliefs and moral convictions regarding the ethos of this industry, I believe educators in any shape or form should never be perceived as biased, consistently and unquestionably.
One example of such bias is decentralization. I will use an analogy to prove a rather painful point, as I am myself biased in favour of decentralization. Imagine I were to teach someone to drive. Now picture me as a big Formula1 fan: track driving is the best driving! Following this logic, I would naturally try to teach my unlucky learner how to win a track race instead of focusing on the basics, or maybe send them to the nearest driving school.
As ridiculous as that may sound, it is not far from trying to teach DeFi to somebody coming from a traditional bank. Being in charge of your own finances, being your own financial advisor, your own bank, your own payment system, how can we expect that not to overwhelm newcomers? Using custodial solutions at first while providing the required education to empower people to then take the leap into the broader world of web3 and crypto sounds like a much more sensible solution.
Some might never take that leap and we should all accept that. After all a loss for TradFi is still a win for crypto.