Disruption of Education
There's been a chatter recently about the boom of educational startups and how higher education is finally being transformed by the internet. There are a number of new startups getting a lot of funding to help this momentum.
In my opinion, there are three main aspects to education: content, structure, and reward.
Content is what you learn. It needs to be simple to digest, and appropriate for the learning style. Lately, we've been seeing a lot of video tutorials pop up online. This is a good thing as some people find it easier to learn by watching than reading. It is also a great example of how technology is providing new opportunities for transformation and democtratization of learning.
Structure is what keeps you going. It's like losing weight - everyone knows what they need to do, but few do it. Free content online by itself won't solve the education problem. To keep people coming back, we need a structure that reinforces learning. Social technology seems to be proving effective. It's like having a workout buddy.
Traditional reward for education is an official piece of paper, a diploma, a certificate, or another form of accredication. This may prove to be less important in the future. Employers are frequently starting to look at someone's reputation in a field by measuring their social involvment. That not only tells them how knowledgabe someone is, but also how passionate they are.
We seem to be entering the perfect storm for transformation of education. I'm looking forward to it.
- Organizing users groups and meetups (or, at least participating a lot). Meetup.com is a good check.
- Sharing code on GitHub, SourceForge, GoogleCode, etc.
- Book publishing is one of the most prestigious reputation builders.
- Conference speaking.
- Twitter and G+ followers.
- Articles, blog posts and other random videos.
Any of the above tells us they are passionate to share themselves. Plus, the results of those sharing are graded by the world. So, this is a really good way to measure someone's reputation.
I'd argue it is similar for software engineers as is for artists, athletes, poets, and many other professions. This informal social credibility is slowly augmenting or replacing traditional institutional credibility. Networked society is emerging.
I hope this helps!
The winners of this disruption will be those who are extremely driven, passionate, and hungry to learn. It is what Adam Smith described as animal spirits in The Wealth of Nations.
I also speculate that this disruption will be asymmetric: the content creators will tend to be from the first world, while the winners will mostly be residents of the emerging economies of India and China.
I'm writing this from Bangalore, where many developers I meet love the free video classes that we've posted online. They actually watch days worth of material, after work, on their own spare time. This is not as common back home in the US.
The world is changing.
Basically, it would feed you questions from the book that grew in difficulty as you got the questions correct. If you missed the question, it would recycle it and ask you later until you got it. This took all the difficulty and time out of finding the important questions in the book so you could put the effort into learning them.
What was really great about it was that it compared your progress and score with the rest of the class. For this particular class, I was compared anonymously with 500 other students and always knew exactly where I stood.
I believe this is a great example of an online platform taking advantage of the three aspects you mentioned, Marko, specifically structure and reward. While I can't comment on the content, as I'm no poli sci guru, the structure made learning fun, simple and effortless, while the reward was given through good ole' competition.