Leadership in Education is a big concern. The influence teachers have on our kids is immense and immediately powerful. I remember hearing one of my little sisters read her paper on the Iraq war circa 2004 at age 12 . . . it is safe to say she did not get those opinions from my parent’s house. Turns out her teacher had particularly strong feelings about the subject and decided to teach a current events lesson.
What is going on with education in the US? My family has been teaching for generations, elementary school through PhD. Most have been/are teachers, and a few have been administrators. Several have also been business owners . . . both teachers and business owners.
Is education now at a crossroads?
The internet has fundamentally changed both our access to information and our individual ability to provide information. If you wanted to share your thoughts on particle physics, 20 years ago you’d be lucky to find 3 people in your city who want to listen to you.
Now, you can find forums, blogs and social networking communities who want to hear what you have to say. Well, or at least they will put up with you.
This expands opportunities for learning across the broadest spectrum of subjects, yes?
We have the ability to have to increase interaction in education, but are we learning or just talking?
What is the value of education now available?
Looking at college courses you can now choose to attend college formally – as in, show up in person, or you can choose to attend class online. PhoenixOnline dwarfed all educational institutions last year and the year before and … and it made it a tidy profit. PhoenixOnline pays their teachers next to nothing so it isn’t attracting super stars though they do seem to require a PhD to teach. I calculated the pay for one class I was considering teaching and determined it to be $8-$12 and hour when you factor in the requirements on the teachers.
What’s the difference?
With Stanford making classes available online for free, is there any reason to use PhoenixOnline? I wouldn’t expect to get a higher quality product from Phoenix, but Phoenix has one thing Stanford does not. Degree granting accreditation.
So if you want your bachelor degree, you watch the PhoenixOnline version. The courses you watch at Stanford won’t earn you a degree from Stanford. You still have to show up and pay Stanford’s tuition if you want a degree. But you can get the degree much less expensively from PhoenixOnline.
Stanford can afford to offer the courses online because degree-seeking students have already paid to fill the classroom. The marginal cost to provide access to educationally motivated individuals is next to zero $.
We have two extremes. Inexpensive, essentially free education and very expensive education like MBA prep courses and top tier business schools.
From Seth Godin: The newly easy access to the education marketplace (you used to need a big campus and a spot in the guidance office) means that both the free and expensive options are going to be experimented with, because the number of people in the education business is going to explode (then implode)….
Just because something is free doesn’t meant there isn’t money to be made. Someone could charge, for example, for custom curricula, or focused tutoring, or for a certified (scarce) degree. When a million people are taking your course, you only need 1% to pay you to be happy indeed.
What he presents as options in the second paragraph is nothing new. Until you get to the 1% of people paying you. How do you feel about 1% of the people demonstrating a value for your labor?
If I work very hard for 5 years, I earn my PhD in esoteric topic X. If I struggle, stumble and fall gazillion times while launching a company, that may take me 4-5 years as well. Should I, should you, share the fruits of those labors for nothing with the vast majority of consumers? If you do, why would the 1% who might be willing to pay pay?
But, more importantly, from what you have noticed about human behavior, will any of those who do not pay value what I teach?