Edumadic- Changing Education
Edumadic is shifting the way we approach education, offering more freedom and versatility to its students, and we spoke to the man behind it all.
Education is changing, and mostly, the change comes within. Frustrated students are beginning to look away from traditional models of studying, and opting for more school-of-life experiences instead. Companies are starting to catch up, and someone who is definitely at the forefront of this educational change is Zach, the founder of Edumadic.
In late 2015 Zach set out on his own experiment of combining online education with world travel. 8 months and one broken leg later, Zach realized that this would have been so much easier with a community of fellow online learners around him. The result of this realization is Edumadic, a company that organizes and leads programs around the world for carefully selected groups of online learners who want to further their education and travel the world simultaneously.
We spoke to Zach before he joined us in Las Palmas for a part of his programme, and asked him all the important questions. Enjoy!
Hi Zach, let’s start by introducing the Edumadic concept? What is it and who is it for?
Edumadic organises and leads programs around the world for carefully selected groups of online learners who want to further their education and travel the world simultaneously.
The idea is very simple, if you’re studying online, why not do it from Bali, Lisbon, or Gran Canaria? As long as you have a stable internet connection and are in an environment conducive to productivity, there’s no reason you can’t combine online learning with world travel.
Our programs are for anyone who is learning online, whether it be an undergraduate degree, or an online coding bootcamp. Each of our programs runs for 6 weeks in one location, and they run throughout the year in various locations in Latin America, Europe, and Asia.
Can you share with us how the idea for Edumadic was born?
Edumadic was born out of my own experience attempting to combine online learning with world travel. Back in 2015 I decided that I was going to learn how to code through online courses, and travel the world while I did it. I wasn’t following in anybody’s footsteps, and there was nobody else combining these two things at the time, it just made sense. Or at least, there didn’t seem to be any reason why I couldn’t combine these two things.
After pursuing this for 8 months, I found that the hardest part of combining online learning with world travel was the people around me. There was no community of other online learners that I could share the experience with and that could hold me accountable to my educational goals. I thought that if I was to pursue this way of studying and traveling again, the one thing that would make it more of a success was if I could travel with a community of other online learners. A community that wanted to have adventures and experience the world, but also make progress towards their educational goals.
Such a community did not exist, so I created it!
Where do you stand on higher education? Did you recognise any drawbacks to the traditional model in your own experience, and where do you think is the future of education?
For me, attending university felt like a total waste of time. Sure, I had a lot of fun and met some amazing friends there, but I’m not sure I actually learned anything academically that has been useful in the real world.
Since graduating university I’ve had a few different jobs, and everything I know about doing those jobs I either taught myself using resources I found online, or learned on the job. It seems to me that I could have skipped attending university altogether and know all the things I’ve needed to know in my career. Of course there are many soft skills that you learn at university outside of the classroom, but I’d argue that these skills can easily be learned elsewhere, much more effectively.
Beyond the time wasted at university, learning subjects that ultimately have been completely useless, for many (especially in the US), it’s extremely expensive. Some universities cost as much as $50,000 per year to attend. Over four years that’s an insane amount of money. Imagine what you could do with 4 years and $200,000 at your disposal instead of getting a degree?
You can learn almost anything in the world online for free. In fact, you can learn the exact things that they teach at these prestigious universities for free, they publish all their course materials online! You could save yourself $200,000 in tuition, and instead spend some of that money travelling the world while you study. Imagine how awesome it would be to travel the world for 4 years when you were 18, while still getting the education you would have if you’d chosen to go to university during that time.
I understand that it’s not as simple as I’m laying out. Most employers require that you have a degree to get a job, and you can only get access to loans as a young person if they are for tuition, so it’s not like you’ll have $200,000 in your pocket if you don’t choose to go to university. Following a traditional educational path is making less and less sense as the world evolves. We think that what we’re doing at Edumadic is a legitimate alternative to that traditional path.
How about work environments? Edumadic definitely seems like it is preparing students for remote work. Is that so, and if yes, was that intentional?
Being an Edumad (what we call our participants) is essentially the same as being a Digital Nomad, we’re just replacing remote work with remote study. Almost all aspects of the lifestyle are the same, perhaps Edumads might have a little more fun! And what is required to be a successful as an Edumad is much the same as a remote worker also. You’ll need to be self-motivating and very organised. Nobody is over your shoulder making sure you hand your assignments in on time, so it takes a lot more discipline to be an effective online student than a traditional one.
Attending our programs is often people’s first exposure to the nomadic lifestyle. Often our Edumads haven’t heard the term Digital Nomad before. As most of our programs run in Digital Nomad hubs (such as Las Palmas, Bali, and Lisbon), participants usually come in to contact with DNs. So although this introduction to remote work was not intentional to start with, it’s a great by-product of the experience! With remote work growing rapidly all over the world, the younger people can be exposed to it the better, in my opinion.
How is travel, for you personally, adding value to studies or work? Do you notice specific growth patterns or perhaps more out of the box thinking of well traveled people?
I think there’s a few core aspects of travel that are extremely enriching to people that are studying or working remotely.
Being exposed to different cultures and ways of life makes you better understand how your own culture has shaped who you are, and how there are other ways to go about life. Maybe they’re better, maybe they’re worse. But when you live your whole life surrounded by people all living the same way it seems like there’s no other way. Once you start to understand there are different ways to live life, you can start to decide how you want to live yours.
Travelling to different parts of the world, particularly developing countries gives you the opportunity to truly understand how lucky you are. Every time I return home from Asia, it blows my mind that I can turn the tap in the kitchen and drink directly from it. That is a privilege that the vast majority of the world does not have. I don’t think it’s possible to understand how lucky you are to be born in the 1st world unless you’ve actually experienced or witnessed what life is like in the developing world first hand. I won the lottery at birth, simply being born in the UK in 1991. That fact alone makes me luckier than almost everyone else that’s ever been born in the history of our planet. The level of gratitude I have from understanding how fortunate I am feels like a superpower which is impossible to acquire if you haven’t travelled outside of the bubble you were born in.
Travel inevitably exposes you to challenges and discomfort. Maybe it’s trying to communicate with locals who don’t speak your language, maybe it’s getting lost in a foreign city. It could even be as simple as making new friends, something that you might not have done in a while. Overcoming these challenges is extremely empowering and can instil a feeling of freedom that you might not have had before. The world starts to feel a lot less scary when you know that you can communicate, navigate, and make friends in a new place you’ve never been before.
What is the vision of Edumadic? Where do you want to take it all?
Our vision for Edumad is to present a viable alternative to the traditional education path. As I mentioned earlier, imagine how awesome it would be to travel the world for 4 years while acquiring an education either through university (through an online degree), or by creating your own education through other online education providers. Our programs are designed so you can do exactly that. You could join Edumadic for 1 program in a year or 6. And why stop there? You could join 24 Edumadic programs over 4 years. Eventually as we add more locations that will be possible! You’ll have lived in 24 different places all over the world for 6 weeks each. And if you so choose, you’ll still have achieved the degree you would have following a traditional path. Win win!
Lets turn to why we are having this conversation. You will be hosting a part of the Edumadic course in Las Palmas. How did this come about?
Yes, we’re here right now on a program! We were looking into destinations for a program at the beginning of the year and Gran Canaria ticked all our boxes. We knew that Las Palmas was already a popular destination for Digital Nomads, which is always a good sign that we’ll be able to run a successful program in a location, as many of our needs are identical. We wanted to find somewhere to escape the European winter and Las Palmas is perfect for that!
What lies in store for you in the next few years?
2020 is going to be a big year for us. For the first 3 years of our operation, we’ve focused on South East Asia as the destination of our programs. 2020 is the first year we’ll be running programs outside of that region, this current program to Gran Canaria being the first. We’ll be running programs in Europe this year to Gran Canaria, Lisbon and Budapest, and we’ll also be expanding into Latin America in the second half of the year.
Over the next few years we’ll continue to expand the number of locations we offer programs in, 24 locations is the magic number. That will mean an Edumad could join us for 4 whole years and be on a program in a different location in each session.
We started partnering with educational institutions in 2019, both accredited universities and independent education providers. We’ll continue with this throughout the next few years, eventually running subject specific programs. For example we will have programs where all participants are studying digital marketing. This enhances the value of the community on each program significantly.
Where can people find out more about Edumadic, and how can they get involved?
You can head over to our website! We run program all throughout the year so I’m sure you’ll be able to find one that fits your schedule. If you want to get an insight into life on the programs, you can follow along on our Instagram. We’re always posting to our stories which is a great window into what to expect an Edumadic experience to look like.