A Web3 theme I want to see emerge in 2022 is the rise of learn-to-earn models. Play-to-earn came onto the scene last year with Axie Infinity. It was pretty mind-blowing to observe how Web3 can actually help people that are economically vulnerable. Anyone can earn a new source of income by playing Axie.

I believe that Axie has proven a new model, the X-to-earn model, and several other products will soon offer users financial rewards in return for their attention. With x-to-earn models, users and investors become one and the same, leading to better alignment of interests for the platform. Imagine if Facebook did not list on the stock market and actually gave users a fraction of their shares, based on their engagement with their network.

While I am a huge fan of play-to-earn, one thing this model does not enable is the ability for users to acquire new skills than can be used in a different context. Becoming very good at Axie Infinity is not a transferable skill. Skills learned won’t help users in real life, and in most other games. The skills are mostly captive to the game (FWIW I do believe some video games can teach some valuable skills).

Instead, what if users were paid to learn transferable skills they can apply in daily life? Skills that help them level up their careers, open new doors, and combine multiple skills to become experts in emerging fields.

The world is changing increasingly fast; I wouldn’t be surprised for people to develop a new rhythm to their career cycles. I doubt people can just keep doing the same thing for very long when everything is changing around them so fast. What if the future workplace was best suited for 3-5 year work stints, followed by 6-18 months of learning and re-training? What if you could actually earn a living during that year, thanks to learn-to-earn?

The opportunity cost of changing careers would go down, and anyone willing to re-train would have better chances of actually doing so. Getting paid to learn would remove the trade off between learning and working part time to pay bills. Why not skip the work part and let people be dedicated to learning, while covering their bills? Given that the internet has so much educational content already available, the main barriers standing in the way of someone with an internet connection is self-motivation, discipline and time available.

Let’s imagine what the experience could actually look like for users of a learn-to-earn model. Let’s say I want to learn Solidity and become a blockchain developer for a Web3 app. I could access a Web3 learning platform (a decentralized Udacity) where I can then purchase a membership attached to a NFT. This membership is like paying tuition, granting access to the chosen courses.Once the course starts, users earn rewards in proportion to their usage. Complete a course? Reward. Help another student figure out a problem? Reward. Complete 5 assignments? Reward. This might very well feel like a game for users, which is good to learn, making the experience memorable and engaging. How cool would it be that students own the platform they learn with, receiving a small slice of ownership each time they contribute? And the people that create the courses could receive a royalty from the membership NFT revenues.

After a while, the users can transfer the money they made outside of the application to pay for bills, AND they are now equipped with new skills to take their work where they dream of. They carry both their digital and intellectual assets with them everywhere they go.

Given the state of the world we live in at the moment, I really want to see a decentralized online learning platform emerge. We’re currently going through a shortage of skills and staff on a global scale. The access to economic opportunity is still overwhelmingly linked to someone’s birth place. In the workplace, the Great Resignation is unfolding. More people than ever feel burnt out, stuck or disengaged with their current job. There has been a shift towards remote working and remote learning, making online curriculums more relevant than ever.

The time for Learn-to-Earn is now.

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