Our educational lifecycle is changing, for the better. Once upon a time, education was a very terminal thing. School was a fact of life. The smarter, more motivated you were, the longer you would stick with it until you grew bored, or got to where you wanted to be.Then you got off the train, found a job, signed a lease or a mortgage, and began life proper as a doctor, plumber, or anything in between.  While this proved to be an excellent model for providing society with appropriate numbers of plumbers , doctors, and telephone handset sanitizers, the system was not for everyone- some people slowly realized that they were incredibly unhappy with the choices they had made. We had created a glass ceiling in Maslow’s hierarchy, stopping just shy of self-actualization.

Fast forward to today, where enlightenment and actualization are increasingly sought after. Building on the economic foundations of the baby-boomers, current generations have been presented the world as their oyster. More and more people are developing the curiosity, self-esteem, and chutzpah to do what they want irrespective of income levels or societal expectations. And with a growing number of confident neobohemians roaming the streets, more and more people are becoming inspired to build explore their interests and passions.

Enter the changing landscape of adult education. The high tuitions, formalized class models, and quantifiable progress indicators of traditional schools just isn’t cutting it for many people- the future of education is passion-driven, crowdsourced, and affordable.

Brooklyn Brainery is a poster child for the movement- anyone can teach a class about anything. Teachers range from experts to hobbyists. The Brainery arose from the need for continuous self-actualization in the form of learning, and the desire of experts to share their knowledge. By all metrics, it is a runaway success, and the organization is looking to expand.

This new educational paradigm is also a great tool to promote equality. The Hacker School Recently offered 23 scholarships for women to attend their three month program. They received over 600 applications. While the program itself is free, the scholarship is meant to encourage women to enter a field in which eight out of ten colleagues are male.

One program to keep an eye on is also the most radical- the Trade School eschews traditional exchanges of money for knowledge, instead asking would-be teachers and students to traffic in objects. A class may be taught by someone asking for something as trivial as socks or as important as food. One class asked only for student participation. Others use the requirement to ask for materials which were used in the class. What makes the trade school unique is that it is a replicable system. For a small consideration, anyone in the world can start a trade school. And many people have- courses are offered in London, Guadalajara, Singapore, Manila, Barcelona and Oakland, to name a few.

While developments in the concrete world are promising, the digital world has proven to be a godsend for globalized, personalized, and free education.
Be sure to check back next week for our take on the most important developments in the cloud.