The face of education is changing. This has been a theme for me over the past few years.
What I think most authors on this subject are missing is that this shift is driven by a powerful confluence of factors, and not merely a comment on the advance of technology or the peculiar study habits of Millennials.
Sure the Internet has enabled the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) trend and is facilitating a delivery channel for education. But the velocity with which MOOCs are penetrating the market is driven by the broken economics of traditional education.
Students are fed up with a product that no longer serves them. Employers are giving less credence to degrees and degree holders. A recent Money Magazine article stated that nearly 30% of students with a much less expensive Associate’s Degree are out-earning those with Bachelor’s Degrees. The costs of education are going up (in a peculiar break from standard supply and demand economics, education pricing has soared through the recession which began in 2008). New students are justifiably questioning whether an education is worth the cost. College placement rates are dismal and the actual information conveyed in many university courses is available online and on-demand for free. Young people today often view education as a problem-solution situation. I need to know something, ergo. I look it up online. Why would I waste my time in school?
Consider what the product of an education is. Knowledge or information about a subject. A certificate authorized by a body of accreditation that tells everyone you really know what you are doing. An opportunity to network with other students. An opportunity to get involved in academia, which I define as doing research and working on projects that have not yet proven to be marketable.
In the name of full disclosure, I am not unbiased since I work as an entrepreneur and consultant for a couple of startup companies and as an adjunct professor in the Finance department at the University of Utah.