The future of education

There is a quiet revolution in academia underway that is growing exponentially and will decimate ‘The Anointed’ class very soon. It is called Massively Open Online Courses (MOOC). Two examples that I have personally used are Coursera and the excellent Khan Academy (See the TED talk by Sal Khan in the video above. A very worthwhile use of your next 20 min) . A single inspired teacher can give the lecture once, put it online and it never has to be done again. Or as Sal puts it, “If Isaac Newton had bothered to put his ideas up on YouTube, I wouldn’t have to”.

Now subjects like Chemistry, Medicine and Engineering will always require lab time to make the principles stick.

Comparative Gender Studies, not so much.

With the accelerating deflation of the Higher Education bubble in the US and the introduction of £9,000 tuition fees in the UK, more and more students will forego traditional universities for MOOCs.

Imagine an 18 year old student considering doing Economics at the LSE. The tuition fees over 3 years will come to £27,000 and accommodation and expenses near the same again. The online Distance Learning option costs £3,807 with invigilation fees and books maybe £1,200 more.

So do you choose to go to college for 3 years and come out £50k in debt, or spend maybe 4 years to do the exact same course, while holding down an entry level job and come out at the end debt free with exactly the same degree? The lack of a £50k noose around your neck will give you a lot more options to buy your first rung on the property ladder.

As Joseph Schumpeter put it: – “The process of Creative Destruction is the essential fact about capitalism”.

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