Gazing at the stars – The future of learning

Some thoughts on the future of a few things we are witnessing in education now, which have troubled me for a bit. Even though, to be totally honest, having in mind that today a few meteorite pieces fell on earth and injured a few hundreds of people I think worrying about whether my projections will come true or not may not be the most important thing. Anyhow. Here it goes:

1. Yes, I will talk about the MOOCs again. From another perspective now. The one that concerns many of us: “What is or will be their revenue model?”. Most of them for profit (apart from edX, from MIT and Harvard) have until now been funded by investors, which is great. Coursera is the first one that has sold some of its courses to Antioch University for a price, as I mentioned in a previous post.

I personally see another huge opportunity here: imagine you have a group of learners, diverse in culture, age, educational background and learning styles available and with the ability to analyse their learning habits, what works and what does not work with them. Let’s assume you are a global education provider of a test (like GMAT, language certifications, TOEFL, Project Management certifications, CFA etc) where you have students from around the world that take your test, once or more times in their lives. And they are already used to pay for this huge amounts through the diverse national providers. Imagine you can cut commissions of all the middle-men and access your audience straight away, provide to them all the preparation courses online and have them also take the tests 100% online, where even for the speaking section, relevant tools can be built-in to allow that. I have not done the math, but I assume there is a huge benefit here.

Also. Which other sector has a bit of cash to spend on training and development of their people? Yes, you guessed right: Business. Maybe it is the new offshore office in southeast Asia or the new team of Marketing that needs to be trained on this new approach or receive a qualification certificate… With the development and selection of a few customized online courses, that use top of the art learning methods and techniques, the objective can be reached faster, cheaper and more efficiently.

2. The world is flat. We have known this for a while now. The mobility of talent now happens much easier and more frequently than 10 years ago. Human capital and knowledge is the most valuable resource of a nation. For the countries that experience brain-drain the investment has no return; Their educated youth leave the country and offer their talent, work and intellect to another economy. Of course, they will offer something important for the other economy, which also sounds a bit self-less, but the fact remains; the homeland loses. Big time.

Now, go back a few years… (like a few thousands of years). Our history books say that the Phoenicians for example were known for being great at sea trading, the Spartans were known for their physical and military education, the Athenians on the other hand for their love to philosophy, arts and political theory.The Vikings, the Mayas, the Egyptians and so on were all famous for a few specific things each. And this is how they built their power on and this is why we still know about them.

Do we have something like that now? We have developing-developed, rich-poor, internet-connected -not so much countries which maybe says a few things about the reality of a state, but not of the specific skills of its people. Now, I am not saying that a country should start “producing” only farmers or software developers, however I feel that its education needs to have a focus, a strategy as some may call it. Do you think it is a coincidence that in some professions you meet awesome talent from a few specific countries? I don’t think so. Call it DNA, call it God, this is a fact: we, as people raised in a specific culture, context and place, are good at some things and in some other things we are not. Salt is good for your soup, it is not good for your ice cream. Simple.

3. Finally. We need a Global Education Day. There is no such thing on the calendar. Some people don’t believe in these days, but look at what is happening every December 1st and every 14th of February! We need to have a list of the 50 most influential teachers in the world, we need to reward the best school and college in the world based on their community impact, we need to celebrate each time a child that dropped-out comes back again and we need to move funds to provide the option of education to everybody.

Even though these are some random thoughts and not 100% proven or well-thought, I think they can form a basis for discussion and provoke some thoughts. What would you say?

What do you think?

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