“Culture is a good that increases when shared (NA)” // Song: Clocks – Coldplay
This spring I visited the Galileo museum in Florence. The first stop was in a room with at the centre a chemical laboratory used by the Grand Duke Peter Leopold to perform experiments as a hobby. While I was standing in front of the table the museum guide explained the story of Peter Leopold. He was a reformist. He carried out major political, economic and administrative reforms, including improving the educational system. One of his considerations was that while we cannot know where the next genius will be born, we need to spread education where any potential future genius could be.
At that times (1765 to 1790) open education was just an idea, today is becoming a reality via a revolution started in USA universities. The idea of massive open online course (MOOC) goes back to 1960, but the first implementation where realized around 2007. Today, the revolution is gaining momentum via online education programs offered from platforms like Coursera, Udacity, edX, and Venture Lab.
Without considering the monetization matters of these platforms, I believe that the effects of these courses are extremely positive because:
- Reach: via Internet a young student living in a poor country can have access to high level education at Stanford. This is a wonderful evidence that technology improves society
- Collaboration: as we have seen in the history, great cultural revolution many times are a result of collaboration between curious minds focused in rising challenging questions and giving innovative answers. These platforms are a great tool for developing collaboration skills of young students
- Courses quality: I tried several courses at Coursera , Udacity, or edX. The quality of the content and teachers is outstanding
Education main objective should be to prepare students to be successful in their professional careers as entrepreneurs or employees. But during the past years we have seen that the offer and demand in the job market cannot find an equilibrium. Education is a business with a huge inertia, in contrast, the job market, changes at very high speed.
A great achievement of online education will be reducing the gap between students preparation and work market demanded skills. A clear consequence of the improvement in online education will be to force the classical schools to search for better models. Only the best schools will survive.
Disruption of education is just starting, and some smart investors like Peter Levine (Andreessen Horowitz) with 15$ investment in Udacity or John Doerr (KPCB) with 16M$ investment in Coursera are demonstrating that online education matters.
Do you agree that online education will disrupt the present model? Do you agree that software will eat education?