The Future of Education Isn’t MOOCS. It’s An Apprenticeship Marketplace.

We know education has been broken for quite some time. Fixing such a large, complex , and multilayered piece of our society is, in itself, complex and multilayered. In the what follows I would like to put forth a proposal and a model for the redesign of school as we know it. What follows is not an incremental improvment or a minute policy suggestion. It is a complete design overhaul, a radical deviation from the model we have created and used for the last 300 or so years. I feel that the time is ripe for such a radical remimaginging and I would posit that it is crucial to the future of our way of life and its improvement.

As I see it there are a few key issues with the current model.

The first and I believe most important is about the delivery format. It about how schools go about fulfilling their promise. At its core a school is a service. Its promise is to educate the “client”. Education is learning and mastering skills. Not knowlege or information alone, but knowledge and the capability to apply that knowledege. However, the process for delivering on that promise is broken, perhaps it never worked. There has has been plenty of research showing that the all too common pedegogy of merely listening to lectures and spitting out answers to test is one of the poorest available today. And we have known this for quite sometime. Take a look here for an interesting take on this. In a twist of irony the very institutions that have discovered how poor of a process this is have been continuing to teach this way. To be sure, These instituions are not evil. It is just virtually impossiple to change and overhal a process that has been in place for centuries. There would be too much opposition.

The second issue is cost. This issue is well known. Take a look and learn more if you’d like. If education is merely a service than it is clear that something is preventing market forces from working efficiently and bringing costs down overtime. In theory education should have become commoditized and market forces should have created a variety of choice as we got better at doing it. Instead prices have gone up. I would argue that the costs per student in delivering an actual education has not gone up that dramatically. Instead, the idea of what a school is, what it offers and how it operates has evolved and become a large complex beast resulting in the burden of costs being passed to the students.

Thirdly, is an issue of packaging. In the age of on-demand platforms, schools are still packaging and offering all or nothing packages. The have developed a full education and the choice is to either enroll and complete the program or not. But what if an education was on-demand and pay as you go. What if you could get the education you wanted along with the credit and recognition for it while having the option to stop whenever you like? What if there was a way to get credit and recognition for every skill you mastered instead of the all or nothing structure as it is now?

For these reasons, the old model needs to be abandoned for a model that is more effective. We need to replace this process with a process that addresses and tackles each of these issues.

Why not build a digital platform, a marketplace, where anyone can offer to teach anyone anything and where anyone can come to learn anything from anyone. We will not design it so that the education would take place online, but rather lets facilitate and enable real, in-person meetings can take place between the teacher and student(s).

Lets replace School the Institution with School the Network.

Lets explore how it would work.

First lets look at the supply side of the market. The platform would allow anyone to offer to teach and/or apprentice anyone in anything anywhere. These offerings would not be traditional offerings as we are used to. Instead it would be an offering to teach from a beginners level all the way through mastery. Being that each class will be payed for as you go the student can stop at anytime they would like. The teacher can create their own page for the offering where they can market their offer in a way that will make it as appealing as possible. Overtime the teacher will earn ratings on their offer earned from the feedback they get from their students. In addition the teachers bio will lend credibility to the teacher. The teacher can set the price per session. If the teacher wants to teach a minimum of students at once to make it worth their while they can set a date at which a minimum number of students they require to be signed up before they will go ahead with the class. If the required number of students are not signed up by a certain date then the class can be canceled. This allows the teacher to know that they will not be wasting their time. There will be other features available to the teacher to enable them to provide the best offering possible and to make it clear to the student what is being offered and the trustworthiness of the the teacher.

Next lets look at the “student” side.

It would be structured as traditional marketplace with a menu of topics to browse from and a way to filter the options based on time and place and other such factors. Students can message the teachers with any questions sign up to pay for what ever classes they would like.

This model addresses each of the issues referred to above. First it enables an apprenticeship market to form. It provides a way for skilled people to find and offer to teach their skill to anyone who is interested in learning them. This model of teaching has been in place for thousands of years before our industrial revolution took over and it is high time we did away with a model that is no longer useful for our modern world.

It also address the issue of cost. The platform is not a school. It would not pass on the costs of its other ventures onto the students . The students would pay the market price that the teacher sets the platform would charge the teacher a percentage of their price in exchange for facilitating the match. Just like any other marketplace platform.

And finally it addresses the issue of on demand availability. Skills can be learned whenever the student would like to learn them. There would be no need nor interest in locking them into a program of multiple skills. A student can be free to learn this for a little and then that and then the other. Or just one thing whenever it becomes interesting or relevant for them to learn it.

This is an outline of how I think the future of education might look. Obviously the details need to be thought of and the inevitable issues that will arise will need to be addressed.

I love Strategy and Product Thinking. I am always open to meeting new, interesting people. If you are interested in discussing this, or really anything further please free to reach out. No really, say hello.