My entry in the Google 10×100 contest

In 2008, Google launched a contest called “Project 10×100″ asking for ideas on how to improve the world. They recieved over 150,000 suggestions and then condensed those ideas down into 16. Then they donated $10 million to financing them. Below is the entry I submitted. The Google 10×100 contest awarded $3 million to the Khan Academy after multiple people submitted similar ideas to mine.

Ignorance is the root of all that kills, and true knowledge is the root of all virtue. The Internet has done an amazing job of educating the masses in ways that were never before possible, and we can already see real world improvements as a result. So let’s take the Internet to its obvious conclusion and streamline that power by giving everyone access to free education.

Make a website where anyone can upload education material. In addition, have public schools record their classes and/or produce Internet-ready educational videos and give them to the world. This site would be like a hybrid between YouTube, Wikipedia, any free E-book site and Itunes University. It will be open source, and anyone can add to its content.

The content would be arranged like a college course listing, except it will include every subject from every grade level. The structure would be further subdivided into sections/chapters like in a school text book. This way people will be able to find the content they want to study.

The site would include videos and downloadable course material for every single class you could ever take in school, from kindergarten to a doctoral degree. I’m talking about unlimited, free education for everyone, 24 hours a day, anywhere in the world where there is Internet access. Children in inner city school who don’t have good teachers or can’t concentrate in class because of all the chaos going on around them can watch classes online at night and pick up what they missed or didn’t understand. People who can’t afford to go to college can watch videos of upper level sociology and anthropology classes. People with depression can watch psychology classes and come to understand themselves on their own. People in third world countries can watch videos on farming at their local Internet cafe. Young professionals could watch law school or philosophy classes on their lunch break. Poor kids won’t ever need to pay for another tutor again.

It won’t lead to a degree (at least, not at first).  The site is based on the philosophy that education is more important than degrees because degrees don’t make people better: education does, and only when our entire society is fully educated will we ever hope to live in an ideal society.

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