#4. Peer-to-Peer

Five Scenarios for Education in 2030


Welcome to Peer to Peer

In 2030, the global ‘peer-to-peer’ economy has gone mainstream and is now an accepted way to live, work, learn and earn. Powered by declining transaction costs and ubiquitous connectivity, peer to peer exchange of goods and services has meant the disintermediation of the ‘institution’ in most industries. Rules governing the ‘old economy’ where efficiencies were gained through standardization and economies of scale no longer apply. Consumer confidence in major institutions is low and the decentralized network trades on trust and reliability. This ‘power shift’ from centralized to distributed models is underpinned by technology that supports trust based end-to-end transactions and changes in the role of citizens from consumers, to producers and creators.

Regulators in all industries have struggled to redefine their role in the peer-to-peer economy as old regulatory frameworks have not been able to offer solutions presented by new P2P business models. By 2030, most professional and skills training occurs in the ‘alternative accreditation’ space where peer market rating systems dominate and which are outside the purview of traditional education regulators, who focus their efforts on the formal schooling sector.

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Tech to the people

Smartphone ownership, a strong launchpad for sharing services, has reached over 80% global penetration in 2030 and distributed ledger technology, such as blockchain, underpin the peer to peer exchange economy, which now provides the global economy with a stable and mature alternative to centralized systems. Learning online, through rich, personalized and human to human experiences dominates the post-secondary and skills training sectors. Mobile and ‘micro’ first approaches enable learning to be integrated into learners daily routines, rather than considered as a separate activity.

Varied impact to formal education

Changes to education in this scenario are less significant in the K-12 sector, where the structure of the industry remains intact, overarching curriculum is still typically mandated by the state and children attend school and learn in classroom settings. However, the peer-to-peer economy has unlocked the collective creativity and IP of teachers, allowing the exchange and sharing of massive curriculum content sets including lesson plans, activities, quizzes, tests, solutions and the like, across all digital formats. Global platforms with deep search, recommendation, ratings and translation capability, have resulted in significant efficiencies across the global teaching workforce and in many cases welcome additional income.

Changes to post-secondary education are more pronounced as brand power moves from institutional to individual. Learners are more in control of what, when and how they learn, forcing institutions to reorganize their offerings and delivery to match market needs. Individuals collect micro credentials from a high number and broad range of providers, disempowering large multi-year institutions with bundled offerings. Rather than mediated by institutional brand as a mark of quality, students can also gain verification of knowledge from global experts in specific fields, including industry experts and professors. Micro-credentials are stored on the blockchain and learners construct their own collection of relevant knowledge, skills and experiences.

Jobs and skills - who do you trust?

The ‘gig economy’ is in full swing with more than half of the global working age population classified as contingent workers. This on tap, global resource of knowledge workers help organizations to mitigate against extreme skills shortfalls and provides the ability to adjust to rapidly changing requirements. The contingent workforce also needs to constantly upskill and the skyrocketing demand for effective, flexible, just-in-time, personalized and ongoing skills training is filled by a global peer-to-peer learning market, much of which is serviced by contingent faculty, who make up the majority of teaching staff at higher education institutions worldwide. Sharing assets, including knowledge and expertise, is easier and cheaper than ever. Platforms match learners with experts, social networks provide a way of building trust, payment systems handle billing and back-to-back ratings system regulate behavior.

Investment surge, cost collapse

In this environment, cost collapses in the post-secondary and ongoing skills training market, fueling further global demand. A diminished need for high cost infrastructure associated with central institutional models, and the re-definition of scale sees ‘micro-tuition’ payments and verification fees becoming the norm. Investment in education soars as innovation continues to produce both financial and education outcomes.

Comparing Scenarios


Scenarios do not predict the future, but present snapshots of a range of possible futures. They should paint a picture of ‘what could be’ with enough depth to be plausible, but not be too exact.

Each scenario represents the different ways in which key drivers have developed and interacted, and so they are not meant to be compared against each other. However, there are common aspects, implied in all scenarios which help to explain underlying thinking that supported their construction.

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