The Education Industry At the Edge of a Cliff

Last Updated Aug 18, 2009 1:10 PM EDT

Think the digital revolution's ransacking of the newspaper and music industries was bad for the economy and perhaps even our democracy? Wait until the digital bomb goes off in education, which employs over 13 million Americans.
Today's learning factories are going to soon face some tough choices as online education possibilities grow. But thus far, these institutions have been reluctant to embrace the efficiencies of the web, even though some professors now admit that their students are using new technologies to reach proficiency levels well before graduation.
Here are tech pundit Seth Godin's three questions that school administrators should be asking themselves now:
Should this be scarce or abundant? Protect the education cartel by restricting access via admissions, accreditation or small classrooms? Or share lectures seamlessly across the web as Stanford and MIT are now doing for free?
Should this be free or expensive? 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).

Should this be about school or about learning? School is tests and credits and notetaking and meeting standards. Learning, on the other hand, is 'getting it'. It's the conceptual breakthrough that permits the student to understand it then move on to something else...people in the know have realized that they are fundamentally different activities.

Godin thinks all combinations will be tried but the model that is based on "free, abundant learning" will win in the marketplace.

How do you think educators can protect their profession while delivering quality, lower cost learning options to their students? Join the discussion below.

  • Stefan Deeran

    Stefan Deeran helps environmental nonprofits and green businesses develop and execute their new media campaigns. He also publishes The Exception magazine, a nonpartisan news platform serving his home state of Maine. You can follow him on Twitter @RStefanDeeran or via Facebook.