In The Future, Higher Education Will Be Free, Via Massive Open Online Courses (And Advertising)
By Paul Konikowski, CTS-D
Last month, Starbucks announced a new program called the Starbucks College Achievement Plan, that would essentially give their employees the opportunity to achieve a college education at a reduced cost. Baristas and other team members can attend Arizona State University classses online using a special discount code. 3rd and 4th year students will even receive reimbursement for non-tuition expenses like books, beer funnels, bongs…just kidding.
Google openly “supports the development of a diverse education, as learning expands in the online word. Part of that means that educational institutions should easily be able to bring their content online and manage their relationships with their students.” Google has worked with edX as a contributor to their open source platform, Open edX, as well as MOOC.org. Google also leads the Girl Code effort.
AT&T now offers nano-degrees that unemployed people, retirees, or even teens can use to get into the workforce. Dell recently released a YouTube video mockumentary about the Center For Selfie Improvement as part of its real-life Learning Means Doing campaign.
Sure, there’s been hundreds of programs designed to teach kids geography, history, or math while they play video games (Where in the World Is Carmen San Diego or the classic Oregon Trail). And computer software and programming courses, from Logo to Java, have been taught in schools for years’ but recently, something has changed in education.
The kids learning to code today are no longer lonely individuals playing video games in a AV closet. Nowadays, programming is a very social endevour, and you must know how to work as a team, just like you would work as a team in the new first-person-shooter video games. Teens are also learning to drive better with web-based training tools. Yes, there’s an app for that.
High schools and universities like Stanford are adopting their programs to fit this new style of online learning. There are also for-profit schools like the University of Phoenix where students can earn a degree on their own time, taking the classes at night or on weekends while working other jobs. Its important the classrooms that are used to “film” the video course have adequate lighting and good acoustics so that the quality of the video course is as good as being in the classroom.
There is also a new type of online video student that has emerged, who learns new skills by watching videos on YouTube, Linda.com, live webinars, and/or other sources of video classes that are definitely not typical college courses. Many of these skills could not be learned as easily before the Age of YouTube, unless someone had shown you how to to do it in person. Here are some examples:
- Learning a new recipe, gardening, or .i.y project
- Cyclists can learn to do their own bike repairs
- Sewing or knitting techniques, fashion trends
- Restoring a classic car, boat, or motorcycle
- Promote your business using Facebook & Twitter
- Become a better investor by learning stock charts
- Teaching yourself guitar chords and cover songs
- Optimize your Linkedin Profile for search engines
Getting back to Starbucks and Dell, I believe these corporate video education models are going to be more and more popular moving forward. The skilled worker gap will be filled by companies who realize that the only way to fill it is with education. I envision companies like CVS and Walgreens starting their own indentured-servant-style pharmacist degree programs. In the future, maybe medical students will go to school for “free”, as long as they promise to work for Kaiser when they graduate. As companies become larger and larger, they will realize its easier to offer “free” education, than it is to recruit and hire.
I keep putting the “free” in quotations because as much as I love the word free, we all know that there is no such thing as a free lunch. Although not widely monetized, many YouTube videos have commercials or pop up ads that users have to sit through like movie previews. Free apps and video games are usually subsidized by banners, audio, and video clips.
It hard to say which comes first, the chicken (the audience who want things for free) or the egg (advertisers who want the audience) but in the end they both need each other to survive, and I believe that will be the future model of educational videos. Online college students will have to sit through video commercials during classes. Electronic books will be free with banner ads. Computer and tablets will be available for free as long as they can track everything you do online. “Free” education will continue to grow as advertisers realize the potential sales of the online audience, and foot the bill.
In closing, I shared this infographic a while back, but its still very relevant to MOOCs. By the way, I am not sold on the term MOOC, but I am quite sure this learning-by video thing is here to stay. -pk