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FlippEd ~ education for the new millenium

Flip power dynamic by aggregating student profiles and having educational providers (current and new players) bid to fulfill student vision.

Photo of Philip Arca
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Who is the target audience for your idea and how does it reimagine the cost of college?

With such a complex issue, many players, many levers to pull -- can we use technology to flip the power dynamic of students nervously applying, parents struggling to pay vs. higher ed institutions and their constellations (testing empires like the College Board, usury lenders, and other intermediaries) holding the levers of power, gatekeeping decisions for higher ed pathways? Imagine a version of "LinkedIn plus" for students, presenting a student educational vision and seeking bidders.

FlippED would develop a "LinkedIn plus" for students, presenting a version of below online:

1.Portfolio of Student Performance (albeit not all testing scores), List of Aspirations, and their Educational Plan

2.Student Educational Plan, might perhaps be outlined as following example:

        Year 1, Coordinate a Community Experience -- project based work experience like Americorp, with OnLine General Ed Courses

        Year 2, In Class Time, Residential Experience with OnLine Ed --  to increase the pace of learning

        Year 3, OnLine Ed and Career Focused Internships -- sponsored by employer entities receiving first look privileges by contributing to the educational bidder price

        Year 4, In Class Time, Residential Experience, Internship -- closing with a Graduation Rite of Passage, Career Placement

3. Price/Willingness to Pay

    Students and their families offer an annual price they are willing to pay for the educational experiences they have outlined per Student Educational Plan above. Higher ed institutions, current intermediaries and perhaps new intermediaries accept the student/family bid, or even bid lower -- to provide the plan as proposed. 

How is this different from the current system? Students and their families propose a price for what they have outlined in the Student Educational Plan, not passively pursuing what already exists.  Perhaps initially, it will be "lesser profile" institutions bidding, but once a market is built, it will be a more efficient way to match student and educational path. Others will join.  

Quality control will be maintained by an open, transparent rating system of the educational bidder, and student participant based on explicit deliverables. 

And yes, there is a role for the public sector and public sector dollars in this model. Public entity support can be shared directly with the student and family, not with the educational bidder (an aspect of flipping the current power dynamic).

A quick note relative to public dollars. Public investment in human capital to prevent the tragedy of our cognitive "commons" is no joke. And as the cost of the prison system has shown us, early investment/prevention/intervention is less expensive than our current mix of bad outcomes. Public money should support any proposed model, but higher ed institutions and their constellations need to be challenged, need more competition, and more dilution of their brand power.

Possible considerations, outcomes, questions? Need a platform. Need to drive interest and aggregate the student profiles, tapping into the talents and expertise of high school college counselors and other mentors to help students build profile and parse bid options. And then, yes, disrupt and get the bidding going and flip the power dynamic. Create a world where students and families have their own brand, and their own choices for which " educational brands" to pay for, support.

What early, lightweight experiment can you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

Have students build an FlippED profile. Invite and survey educational providers, including non-traditional providers -- seeking off the record bid amounts for various profiles and educational plans.

What skills, input or guidance from the OpenIDEO community would be most helpful in building out or refining your idea?

Platform design. Strategies to build aggregation and bidder interest. Plan for the bidding process.

This idea emerged from

  • An OpenIDEO meetup

Are you interested in the Path to Pitching track we've developed for this challenge?

  • Yes


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Photo of Meshack Vallesillas

The main weakness I see here comes down to this: People don't know what they don't know. Putting the onus on students to construct their own education saddles students with a new burden. On top of applying for financial aid, keeping grades up, studying for SATs, researching careers, and doing the most important but most often overlooked work of figuring out who they are and who they want to be - and all this while suffering the stresses of living in poverty - this puts an almost impossible task in front of the student. How to optimize an education to fit the needs of a future employer.

I am speaking from my own experience. My parents were divorced, my father was absent, and my mom worked three jobs to support myself and my siblings. Anything to do with my education was on my own shoulders. I consider myself lucky that I had the head on my shoulders that I did. For example, I began forcing myself to listen to the news on NPR around my junior year, even though it was the most boring thing I've ever heard. But I couldn't imagine expecting someone that age to know what is happening in business, the working world and education to expect them to construct their own education plan.

The difference between my own situation and my more privileged peers was that they had a support system in place: Family members that could bring their considerable experience to bear and take on some of the workload of making an education plan (in this case, selecting a college, a major, and a career path).

Your proposal as it stands continues an existing problem in education: corporations or firms have offloaded the responsibility of training their workforce on to the workforce itself.  This is the model of an industrial age that didn't need philosophers and poets, it needed more cogs in the wheel of industry, and it needed those cogs to be merely competent, and thus we have compulsory education.

Higher education has now become almost compulsory, and we should question whether it should be really up to the individual to not only anticipate the future job market and needs of employers, but to pay the cost of training and to shoulder the risk that the pace of technology and changes in the market will not make their hard won skills useless...

Sorry if this sounds ranty, I want to be on the same page with where I am coming from. I think this proposal could be fixed. But it sounds like you thinking of technology first, and relationships second. What if you approach the relationships first, and then technology?

Companies talk about having a skills gap. What if you partnered with one or more companies to find out what the skills gaps are, work on a curriculum to fill that (as you did with your sample Student Education Plan), and then package that as something that can be delivered to students in poverty. This gives the student a clear path toward learning skills and having a job prospect lined up, without increasing the student's already considerable workload.

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