The nature of education is something that I’ve been thinking about since the pandemic began. (cough nerd cough). From Khan Academy to YouTube, to Udacity, to Skillshare, even before COVID-19, there’s been an inkling of educational disruption.
I’ve been interested in learning and self-learning ever since I started Renaissance Life many moons ago. But this idea that education is on the cusp of being completely flipped over (and ripe for opportunity) hit me early last year.
I had been wanting to reinvigorate my love of coding and start from the fundamentals and begin to work my way up, really diving into how to dream in code and understand how computers work.
Early last year I got COVID and while I was sick in bed I did two things: 1. I rewatched all the marvel movies. And 2. I took Harvard’s CS50 and CS50W programming courses (free I might add) and they were the most insightful coding class I’ve had, which is saying something since I went to my local college for Computer Science. I’m not here to bash reputations or point fingers—I’m just here to learn (and teach). But this really got my noodle thinking.
The question that keeps coming to mind is what will educational institutions do when they have to directly compete with every other institution around the globe?
What will Universities do when they have to directly compete with every other institution around the globe?
Competition between universities has been around since their inception, but the key difference going forward is the Internet has leveled the playing field. (The Internet doez wat the internet doez.) Just as anyone can create something—start a business, build an app, start a YouTube channel, etc.—universities will likely have to compete on value (and cost) without necessarily having geographical benefits as they did before. Put another way, if every college is online, why attend your local university if you could go somewhere more valuable elsewhere?
Recently I found a company that is aiming for this type of disruption: Outlier.org. Outlier was created by one of the co-founders of MasterClass. It is an accredited online learning platform that lets you take courses for college credit at 1/5 the cost ($400 per class) of a regular college course. They currently have a limited amount of classes, but that’s something that they can easily increase over time. The interesting thing about each Outlier class is that they are taught by multiple professors/expertise in the industry versus one teacher.
Prestige will likely still remain a factor (for mostly good and obvious reasons). Competition will (hopefully) lower the cost of courses (at least to the point where students no longer have to pay for physical institution fees/taxes as a part of their tuition. And if there’s high quality plus demand across the board, then prices will go down (…and up for premium pricing too).
Don’t get me wrong, there’s always going to be a need for in-person colleges for particular majors (If I could I’d go to MIT in a heartbeat). But in the future, my guess is that most in-person courses will be focused on specialization, whereas general courses and most majors will all be online.
All of this has me super excited about the potential of future education (and a little bummed that I’m not in high school right now—which means I’m getting old :). Also, I could also see the entire structure of “attending college” changing. For example, why only attend one school, when you could potentially take a course from Harvard, MIT, SCAD, Georgia Tech, and Berklee at the same time? Who’s to say that a single individual (like Sal Khan or Seth Godin) can’t start their own accredited online courses that are better than 80% of the university courses out there today? To rephrase a William Gibson quote:
The future is already here. The world just hasn’t caught up yet.
STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing — Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1307
Join the Renaissance:
Newsletters: Considerations | Practices | Bookaholics
Subscribe: Renaissance Life on Apple Podcast| Renaissance Life on Spotify