The Colorado Education Work Lab: A 21st Century Statewide Biodome Experiment

Written by
Duncan Cox

The Colorado Education Work Lab: A 21st Century Statewide Biodome Experiment

Written by
Duncan Cox

The Colorado Education Work Lab: A 21st Century Statewide Biodome Experiment

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Written by
Duncan Cox

The Colorado Department of Higher Education (CDHE), in partnership with Learning Economy, is excited to announce the launch of the Colorado Education Work Lab (C-Lab). This collaborative, future-focused, research-driven initiative aims to position Colorado as a national leader and model for 21st-century education and work infrastructure.

“We are incredibly excited about the Colorado Education Work Lab,” said Chris Purifoy, CEO and Chairman of Learning Economy. “It represents a first-of-its-kind ‘biodome’ experiment, for blockchain and education, connecting the entire state into a decentralized 21st-century education and workplace infrastructure. It will provide a model for other states and nations. They say one pilot can change the world, and I would say the same for one C-Lab.”

Through this effort and partnership, the C-Lab aims to address Governor Jared Polis’ priority to ensure all Coloradans have access to opportunities for quality, life-long education connected to the future of work and capitalize on the established momentum and expertise (locally and nationally) related to distributed ledgers; self-sovereign identity and data interoperability protocols; and a range of emerging, interdependent, and intersecting technologies.

CDHE works with Colorado’s colleges and universities to make higher education affordable, accessible and equitable for all. By exploring emerging technologies such as blockchains, the C-Lab will connect educators with technology experts to find solutions to longstanding challenges in education. 

“We’re excited to facilitate opportunities for educational innovation in our state,” said Dr. Angie Paccione, executive director of CDHE. “Through the C-Lab collaboration, we are calling both educators and industry to action to help us meet our aggressive goals of increasing statewide educational attainment.” 

The C-Lab has identified four primary goals to address at the outset of its work. These include: 

  1. Launch and support an independent and comprehensive modern education and workplace research project;
  2. Scale new technology infrastructures to local, regional, and national stakeholders;
  3. Lay plumbing for a modular national data pipeline capable of supporting a decentralized graph of schools, students, employers, and employees;
  4. Accelerate progress toward the strategic goals outlined in the Colorado master plan for higher education, Colorado Rises: Advancing Education and Talent Development.


The Colorado Department of Higher Education’s mission is to support students, advocate, and develop policies to maximize higher education opportunities for all. The C-Lab is an effort that directly supports Strategic Goal #4, which emphasizes innovation in education. By harnessing new technology, CDHE aims to foster new teaching and learning models, improve student outcomes and reduce students’ time to degree by increasing efficiencies in systems, thereby saving students time and money. The C-Lab represents one of many bold steps being taken towards achieving this goal.  


Learning Economy is a U.S. non-profit with a mission to accelerate the world toward 21st century education and workplace infrastructures, and to level the playing field and address inequity and disadvantage with student and employee-centric models.

To accomplish this mission Learning Economy is guided by three performance drivers: 

  1. Pioneering Research
  2. Convening Thought Leaders 
  3. Exponential Technologies
Learning economy, knowledge economy, internet of education, colorado, c-lab, blockchain, distributed ledger, ed 3.0, edtech, ed tech,


The Learning Economy Protocol provides a framework to transfer information and value between any stakeholder in education and work without the friction of individual partnerships or the need to learn new systems. The Learning Economy Protocol connects the fragmented learning ecosystem into a unified value chain. This open-source protocol allows any number of schools, employers, researchers, state agencies, and institutions to translate information between multiple standards and systems without changing their behaviors, since the global system of education is just as diverse as the people teaching and learning within it. 


C-Lab’s information layer creates a modular ledger for student record keeping, badging, and tracking impact.

C-Lab’s value layer creates a graph to quantify trust and the impact of each stakeholder on the life of a student with machine learning.

C-Lab’s application layer provides intuitive, mobile-friendly user experiences for interacting with the information and value layer.


In addition to the Colorado Department of Higher Education and Learning Economy, the C-Lab will act as a community catalyst that supports and supercharges a number of existing efforts already underway in the state (My Colorado Journey, TalentFOUND, etc.). The C-Lab will act as a research arm, thought-leadership community, pilot network, and infrastructure partner as Colorado creates actionable, interoperable data “rocket fuel,” which can be used by projects and partners across the state to solve problems and create meaningful impact.

Next steps for the C-Lab include a convening of educators, innovators and otherwise interested stakeholders on January 30, 2020. See this page for more details. We hope you’ll join us in collectively shaping this exciting new future.


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