This have been foreseen. I've read about that 1 or even 2 years ago - I admit, I was a bit skeptical, well - let's just say "reluctant". In my opinion (those days) education was just education - you need direct teacher-student communication, individual feedback & grading, adjusting topics & detail level to receiver's current level & expectations. Knowledge has to be up-to-date as well. And in the end - pure knowledge itself is (I know it sounds ridiculous) not enough - you need a proof, a stamp of approval, widely accepted & respected. All of these reasons were cooling my enthusiasm.
But the reality proved me wrong
I'm not going through the cases one-by-one, especially because I've already written a lot about that. I'll just list some sites I personally use on daily basis (majority of them are paid in that way or another):
- Duolingo & Babbel - learning languages
- Pluralsight - software development
- Egghead.io - web development
- Coursera - everything, with a big focus on academics
- Ultimate Guitar Plus - well, guess :)
There are also some sites I didn't use personally, but I know people who do (or did):
As you can see, we're not talking about the future, but present - I use MOOCs pretty much every day & it's not for kicks & giggles.
There's a very clear benefit
Just off the top of my head:
- it's convenient - I learn when I want to & where I want to (many courses are approachable via both the browser & mobile phones as well)
- business models are usually shaped in an agile way - you pay for the actual use
- as it's on-line - the content is frequently updated: I mean both in-depth & in-breadth updates
- feedback issue has been dealt with:
- some courses have quizes / assignements validated automatically
- some courses use crowdsourcing mechanisms for that purpose: people do reviews & evaluations for their peers (and there are ways to increase the credibility of such reviews)
- there's minimum friction - you won't get rejected just because:
- it's the wrong time of the year
- there are too many interested in the course already
- you're not meeting the contrived pre-requisites
- convenient granularity - knowledge is served in a reasonable chunks, you can cherry-pick the topics you want without committing to 5 years long full studies
- there's a strong focus on motivating student to keep learning (regularly):
- some use gamification tricks
- some award you with actual university certifications for the proper effort
There's money lying on the street
This is interesting not just from the students perspective - it seems to be a great idea for business as well. Education is a kind of service that will never get out of use - as long as you're good & competitive, there'll be a need for what you offer, especially if you keep in mind transient character of education "goods":
- may need refreshing once in a while - is not permanent
- can't be easily stolen / reproduced (without serious effort) by someone else
- one course does not really exclude any other -> quite the opposite
IMHO we're still far from fully utilizing Education-as-a-Service commercial potential. Especially here in Poland, we're missing a proper education services in the Internet. Pretty much everyone would like to learn something (not necessarily something related to his / her work, sometimes just a fun thing), but people tend to invent (out of thin air) & pile up ridiculous obstacles (based on laziness & more or less imagined inconvenience) - Internet removes a lot of those.
Who'll be the first to claim this no man's land (in PL)?