top of page
  • Writer's pictureBahar Ansari

S3Ep16: Decentralized Education and Ownership of Learning with Michael Robbins

Today’s guest believes in the power of technology to solve the problems we face as a society and he has devoted his career to using technology to make purpose-driven learning count. For the last five years, Michael Robbins has led District of Learning, a technology-enabled ecosystem for 'any time, anywhere' learning in Washington DC, an initiative from the MacArthur Foundation. He also has experience as a senior advisor for the Obama administration, where Michael led work for the US Department of Education and the White House in community engagement and digital transformation in education. He has advised and collaborated with mayors, school superintendents, community organizers, nonprofit leaders, and corporate executives on a range of public initiatives. Today Michael joins us to explain how he believes that we can co-create solutions for our education crisis, transform learning with the power of data of ownership and technology, and come together to learn what we need for life in order to chart a better pathway for a digital society. To find out more about the decentralization of learning, how we can put power in the hands of individuals, and co-create a better future, tune in today!

Key Points From This Episode:

  • Thoughts on Arthur Clarke’s third law and the gap between what’s happening in tech and what people understand.

  • Michael’s background and his passion for the intersection between technology and education.

  • Michael’s belief in the power of technology to solve the problems we face as a society.

  • The District of Learning project and its goal to decentralize learning and put power in the hands of individuals.

  • The opportunities that lie in individual data ownership and especially learning data.

  • The importance of thinking about different value models for how we generate income and value exchange, individually and collectively.

  • Ownership rights of ancient cultures that could merge well with society and digital rights.

  • Insight into ‘Solid technology’ and ‘edge computing’ to claim power individually.

  • The concept of semi-autonomous decentralized application systems for native democracy and justice and establishing governance.

  • How Learning Pathmakers is charting a path for a distributed learning ledger.

  • What 501 (c)(6) corporation status is and why Learning Pathmakers is pursuing it.

  • Michael’s approach to decentralized education to make purpose-driven learning count all the time and everywhere.

  • What it would look like for young people to own their learning.

  • What a TABLED eco-verse is and how it uses technology to create a holistic approach to learning.

  • The importance of co-creating these systems for a truly decentralized approach.

  • In what ways we need different and stronger approaches from the government, e.g. regulation on algorithms and data use, etc.

  • The need for a new generation of public-minded young people who are interested in inventing this next generation of digitally native governance.


“For me, the height of innovative achievement isn’t sending a billionaire into near space, it’s using the ingenuity that we have, our technology, our people, our commitment, to solve the problems that face us a society.” — Michael Robbins [0:05:38]

“Our schools have a lot of recovery to do but we also, in our educational approaches, have to prepare young people to be digital natives in a way that most people don’t even understand where this is heading.” — Michael Robbins [0:25:10]

“Our decentralized approach is ‘how do we make purpose-driven learning count all the time and everywhere?’” — Michael Robbins [0:30:00]

“How do we help young people claim that ownership, to say ‘This is what I need to learn to live the life I want’? That’s a very different question to what we’re asking right now .” — Michael Robbins [0:31:23]

“We need a new generation of inventors, of public-minded young people who are interested — in inventing this next generation of digitally native governance.” — Michael Robbins [0:44:47]

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:


Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page