Get your degree on Instagram! (courtesy of School)

New York studio School has launched a week-long educational course run entirely through Instagram, where participants are rewarded with cash and the very concept of higher learning is turned on its head.

11 February 2020


This week, everyone’s invited to get a degree – albeit a “very liberal arts degree” – on Instagram. New York studio School, founded by Andrew Herzog and Nicky Tesla, is running a week-long educational course where every hour they post a video “lesson” on the social media site, posing a question on a range of subjects. Participants have only that hour to submit their answer, then answers are tallied at the end of the day and “students” are ranked. The top student of each day (the project began yesterday and runs until the end of the week) wins $100 cold hard cash.

Unsurprisingly, this “degree” doesn’t carry the same credentials as a traditional qualification, yet the project as a whole looks to satirise education as we know it and imagine what it might be like if this is the future of learning.

“It's a bit absurd,” says Herzog on the project, “but we're hoping we’ll be able to further discourse on the effect of accessibility and positive incentive systems, as they relate to participation and engagement within contemporary education systems.”

The project began when Copier Coller Club, a virtual artist residency platform run on Instagram, asked School to be its next resident by taking over its account for a week. Whereas most previous residents shared work and behind-the-scenes photos, School wanted to do something different. “We figured maybe this would be an opportunity to make things a little more difficult for ourselves,” says Tesla.

“We see our studio as a vehicle for continuous learning (hence School) and somewhere in the brainstorming of what we could do, the idea sort of materialised out of a conversation that began, ‘What if instead of a behind-the-scenes look into School, people were actually in School’. This grew into a humorous brand identity for a fake institution, School University, and a syllabus that would form the content of the takeover, which itself is based on (and subtly mocks) the “core competencies one is expected to know if groomed through a traditional western schooling environment,” Tesla says.

The project also saw School design and build a full mobile app that would allow users to answer the questions by following the account’s website, changed temporarily to the app URL.

“Of course there’s a lot of discourse that surrounds this subject,” Tesla explains of the wider idea. “Cultural revolutionaries for years have been critiquing systems of education and their outdatedness, and we think this will continue to become a larger discussion, especially in the US, as our culture responds to the influence of rising college tuition costs and student debt levels, as well as the further proliferation of both free institutional education providers such as MIT OpenCourseWare as well as more tactical corporate alternatives such as

“While we’re not taking a hard stance on how these systems ought to operate, nor the societal benefits or pitfalls of them per se, we thought we might allude to them as touchpoints in this project, which is taking place at what seems to be a fairly momentous inflexion point. We’re hoping that through this satirical and playful lens that we might bring these potential impending societal shifts to the attention of a wider audience.”

Anyone can take part in School University until the end of this week, and School plans to release a Statement of Purpose afterwards, sharing its resources and insights to continue the discussion.

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Jenny Brewer

Jenny oversees our editorial output across work, news and features. She was previously It’s Nice That's news editor. Get in touch with any big creative stories, tips, pitches, news and opinions, or questions about all things editorial.

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