2012-05-30

Co.Exist

Trade School: A Learning Space That Runs On The Barter System

Education can be expensive. But a new learning system lets you pay your teachers with your own skills or goods.

Chances are, there are a number of things you’d like to learn in your free time. Some of them are probably not so cheap. A mixology class? That will be almost $40. Jam making? That will be a couple hundred dollars. Maybe there’s another way. Trade School, a learning platform spun out of the OurGoods bartering network, allows anyone to teach classes in exchange for barter items. In a sense, Trade School is like Skillshare (another platform for the public to teach classes), but run on a bartering system.

The Trade School project started in New York City two years ago, but it has since expanded all over the world—there are now Trade Schools in Los Angeles, Oakland, Calif., Virginia, London, Paris, Guadalajara, and elsewhere. Now OurGoods is soliciting donors for a Kickstarter project to launch 15 new schools and upgrade the Trade School software, which makes it easy for local schools to run independently.


Trade School classes span a variety of interests. In the past, classes have rum the gamut from butter-making to grantwriting, Scrabble strategy to composting, even ghost hunting—with students paying for entry with things like kombucha, cheese, mix CDs, and herbs. One recent class (How to Write a Nonfiction Book Proposal) saw students bringing sake, snacks for the class, handcrafted items, and a vintage Dead Can Dance t-shirt, among other items.

So what’s stopping you from taking that class you always meant to look into (especially if all it will cost is an old T-shirt)? Check out Trade School’s Kickstarter page here.

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