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Degreed: "Education Is Too Important to Stay the Way it Is"





“Tyranny of the Degree”

In today’s job marketplace, employers rely in large measure on a candidate's academic achievement, especially those of post secondary education, as an indicator of a candidate’s intelligence and qualifications.  Armed with this information, students are investing increasingly larger sums of money into educational institutions largely in an effort to secure a degree that will signal their knowledge and competency to employers and graduate schools.  However, the dramatic shifts in the costs and consumption of education over the past several decades have diminished the signaling power of the degree. Furthermore, the binary nature of the college degree makes it impossible for the 56% of Americans with partial degrees to accurately signal their academic achievements to potential employers, thus students receive little signaling return to their educational investment education until the 120th credit is obtained and a degree is granted. 

Simultaneously, new technologies have enabled the online education marketplace to expand at breakneck speed, including both tuition-based and free courses.  However, in the current online education marketplace only tuition based accredited online education options provide grant the degrees that provide this essential student to employer signal.   Free open content courses are offered by some of the most prestigious institutions in the world, including MIT, Stanford and Yale, yet the current education marketplace has no way to relay knowledge and skills gained from the use of free education resources.

Such factors have created a need for a more efficient way of communicating our knowledge and competency to others and for an alternative to the tyranny of the degree.

What is Thinkstache?

Thinkstache is a free and open education marketplace that liberates students from the tyranny of the traditional degree.  Thinkstache enables students and lifelong learners to signal their educational attainments to employers and others at every step of their education process –whether they studied in a traditional tuition-paid campus setting or in a free open content classroom.

Thinkstache is a knowledge marketplace through which both traditional accredited achievements and non-accredited online educational attainment will be aggregated, synthesized and displayed as a student’s Thinkstache Education Profile, which is a visual snapshot of users total academic achievements to date.

How Thinkstache Works

When a user joins Thinkstache, they will input their college transcript using a simple drop down menu interface that will be used to generate their Education Profile.  This profile contains the user’s educational credit hours, difficulty points (which are a function of the difficulty of the courses taken by the user and their performance in these courses) and areas of personal expertise. Users are encouraged to supplement their Education Profile with courses and content consumed from non-accredited open content providers, such as badges, certificates or developmental conferences and seminars.  The aggregation of both traditional accredited and non-traditional non-accredited learning into a single snapshot profile helps the user to more fully represent the totality academic achievement. 


Thinkstache Profile

The Thinkstache profile enables users to signal their traditional academic attainment and continued non-institutional learning by aggregating these accomplishments into a meaningful and dynamic profile.  The Thinkstache profile has been engineered to effectively enable students to signal the quantity, quality and expertise of their education.

Credit Hours: (Quantity)

The Thinkstache Credit Hours metric is a signal of the quantity of a student’s educational attainment and is based primarily on the credit hour model used in traditional degree granting institutions; however, the metric also accounts for non-accredited content.

Difficulty Points: (Quality)

Thinkstache Difficulty Points have been designed to enable students to signal the overall difficulty and quality of their education.   The Difficulty Points metric is determined from an algorithm that uses many input variables, including the difficulty of the course, the grade obtained and quality of the providing institution.  Open content badges and certificates will factor into the difficulty points score and will provide a context in which employers and others can evaluate the aggregate attainment of such non-institutional courses.

Summary Charts: (Expertise)

User’s aggregate academic achievement will be displayed using charts and graphs to highlight the specific areas of excellence or exposure.

Why Use Thinkstache?


●      Find Your Dream Job - Thinkstache enables users to display their traditional and non-traditional achievements to others and to be discovered by top employers.

●      Discover What You Don’t Know - Because thinkstache is also a discovery engine, it will allow students to know what they need to do to take their learning to the next level based upon their past performance.  Thinkstache will make recommendations  of additional educational opportunities of open content providers, scholarships and job opprotunities based on the information it already knows from users transcripts and online learning information.  These recommendations will include open content such as Mircorsoft’s new Microsoft Fundamentals course or other Stage 1 DML career/workforce content providers.

●      Pay for School - Thinkstache offers scholarship opportunities to enable users to finance their tuition or other fee based education.


●      Find Top Talent -  The searchable knowledge database of Thinkstache users allows employers to find top talent with the specific skill set and background they are looking for.

●      Save Time and Money - Thinkstache is a head-hunting search engine where employers can find the Top talent without having to parse through hundreds of resumes.

Content Providers

●      Be Discovered - Thinkstache makes recommendations to students about post-secondary open content and courses that they may be interested in based on their background. Ideal content and badge providers from DML Stage 1 to team up with would include any career/workforce oriented content, such as: Microsoft, Design Mind, Badges for Vets, Design for America, Cyberwise, ICD, Military Badges for Civilian Work or S2R Badges.

●      Display Badges - Badges and Certificates issued by content providers play a vital role in employers implementation and acceptance of badges as a meaningful signal of a learners academic achievements. Thinkstache seeks to provide context and validation for the online badges and certificates that learners obtain from content providers by showing how the skills a user obtained from the content fit into the users overall portfolio of skills, knowledge and experience from traditional education and elsewhere. 


Thinkstache will be accessed through web browsers, mobile devices (iOS & Android) and social platforms (Facebook & Twitter).  It will also be configured to synthesize content from publishing platforms (Youtube, Wikipedia, Itunes U), Open Content Providers (MITX, Stanford, CodeAcademy & Badges) and Closed Content Platforms ( & Rosetta Stone). 


The Thinkstache team is a robust and comprehensive team with a diverse set of backgrounds and expertise that will enable us to accomplish our vision a free and open education for everyone in the world.   

Executive Team:

David Blake – David was an executive member of Zinch, a Linkedin-style network for students that sold to Chegg in 2011. David is one of twenty-five EdTech Entrepreneurs, a program hosted by the Stanford dSchool and sponsored by NewSchools Venture Fund and Teach for America.

David Wiley - David is an Associate Professor of Instructional

Psychology and Technology at Brigham Young University and an advisor
to ThinkStache. Fast Company named David Wiley one of the "100 Most
Creative People in Business." David founded the Open High School of
Utah and is the Chief Openness Officer of Flat World Knowledge. David
has been a Nonresident Fellow at the Center for Internet and Society
at Stanford Law School, a Visiting Scholar at the Open University of
the Netherlands, and a recipient of the US National Science
Foundation's CAREER grant. BYU is a partner with ThinkStache on DML
grant proposal.

Development Team:

Al Wild – Al is an experienced software architect and engineer that brings years of experience building consumer technology sites, including Zinch, from the ground up, as well as business intelligence and data analysis sites. He joins the team from being a Senior Engineer at HP.

Dariel Marlow - Dariel is a developer for Microsoft who has a tremendous experience with high scale operations, leading software development, and multiple technologies





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