Monday, 5 August 2013

Meet the EdTech entrepreneurs - An interview with David Blake

In a world with increasingly varied sources for learning, how do you keep track of - and show off - your achievements?
The Good MOOC interviews Degreed co-founder and CEO +David Blake.





  • Can you introduce yourself?


My name is +David Blake, I am the co-founder and CEO of Degreed. I am passionate about the future of education and it is my life's work to reshape what that looks like. I was part of the founding team at Zinch, helped to launch NEW.edu, and am a Stanford d.School EdTech Entrepreneur. I am originally from Utah, in the USA and currently live in San Francisco, CA.



  • Can you describe what you're doing with Degreed?


Degreed helps you track everything you learn, both formal (e.g. college) and informal (e.g. online courses, conferences, books, etc). It used to be true that education meant going to a single university early in our lives. Increasingly, that is no longer true--we learn from a diversity of sources over the entirety of our lives. More and more resources are emerging and the demands of the global knowledge economy means we have to always be learning. Degreed helps you track all of your learning in one place.



  • How did you come up with the idea and what are you hoping to achieve?


Today, the degree is the only "unit" of education that matters. Ask anyone, "tell me about your education" and inevitably they answer in relation to their college experience. It is the only way of communicating our education, yet it is only a fraction of the learning that happens. It is my goal to "jailbreak the degree" of to make all of our learning measurable, meaningful, and to make all of it count. Incredible things can start to happen once we measure education in a more modular fashion. We can take courses from any university, from the best professors, online, in-person, around the globe, and close to home.



  • What's your business model?


Our goal is to make all of your learning matter. "To matter" means that it needs to count in all the ways your formal degree might, with employers for hiring and advancement, for grad schools, even for your potential in-laws.
Degreed is working towards helping organizations better share and measure learning resources for admissions, hiring, and inside organizations to help employees or students learn. Degreed is free for users, who can pay to have their transcript, degree, and profile verified.
Degreed will soon introduce it's paid services for organizations.



  • Has the experience yielded any surprising findings so far?


Yeah. It has been amazing how many people have seen what we are doing and immediately say something to the extent of, "Ooh, I would love to see the education of Steve Jobs" ... or others of high caliber. Education is such a big part of who we are and our story, yet we have so little color by which to tell that story.



  • Can you perhaps explain what you consider as your main differences and similarities with Accredible?


We introduced the ability to link your courses to an outside URL in support of what Accredible is doing and encourage anyone who is using Accredible to link to their certs from the Degreed profiles. Accredible serves to help you establish a deep body of evidence on your participation behind each MOOC or course. Degreed serves to help you have a holistic reflection of everything you have learned, from any type of learning resources. We believe they are very complimentary missions.





Degreed was a winner of the Mozilla Digital Media and Learning Competition and was awarded a $150,000 grant in support of Mozilla Open Badges. On Degreed you can input each of your open badges as part of your Degreed profile and as Mozilla Open Badges introduces a feature they call 'badge federation' that process should soon very simple. What I love about Mozilla Open Badges is that they are creating a way for everyone to have a way to issue a credential. Challenges will remain as more and more people begin issuing credentials--like keeping track of their value and worth--and that is where Degreed stands to play an important role. Credly is a company that has undertaken to help make the issuing of an Open Badge super easy. There is a ecosystem starting to emerge to serve the many requirements of the new future of credentials and we are excited to be at the heart of the issues with Degreed.



  • What's your analysis of the current state of online learning?


It is inferior to residency-based learning of the highest caliber, and competitive with large-lecture, middle-tier, residency-based universities. It has lots of issues still but it is my faith that you will see those issues resolved in time.



  • Where do see higher education going in the medium to long-term future?


I think the most important trend will be which brands matter most in education. Today, it is universities (e.g. Harvard) or platform (e.g. Udacity). In time, that will shift to the professor or teacher. But ultimately, the best brands in many areas of expertise are enterprises and believe they will increasingly shift from internal training to external education. Top employers will eventually be the most powerful brands in education.





Most recently, I took the gamification course from Coursera.





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