Friday, March 09, 2018

The Price of Education

Marcus has recently investigated and started some courses, well electronically at Yale University.

When I say started, this example is really a self study course but this is from a high quality source, some would say one of the best

Example: Philosophy

Shelly Kagan teaches about Death from a philosophical perspective.

You can download the Diagrams, MP3 audio of each lecture, and even a video recording of each lecture in low or high quality format   (about 500MB per lecture).

What is going On?

This is a top quality class, presented for free, from a world famous establishment.  How come?

- You can view/attend the class but you don't receive any certificate, take any exams,  or have any interaction

- This is a one way study class,  so if you run up against an obstacle you are on your own.
- Why is Yale doing this you might ask?
- Doesn't it devalue and short-circuit its paid, and very high priced University curriculum?
- Well yes, to an extent it does, but Yale is reacting in part to the pressure of the free economy.    Examples include Coursera and Khan Academy

The Uncomfortable Crossroads

Employers still value qualifications from a narrow band of country specific,  or perhaps European specific sources.   These are bonded to the traditional Government or parallel private school systems of each country.

Whilst there is now a wealth of free, or small fee services their qualifications don't count as a starting point.

However perversely, if you are already an employee your employer might actually consider them  (low cost!  and study anytime e.g at home on your own time) to improve your effectiveness

Ready Player One
In the near future novel by Ernest Cline technology has progressed and society has depressed to the point that the state education system no longer functions.   Students the world over are encouraged to participate, learn and educate via a virtual world called the OASIS  Is this where we are headed?

A Rock and a Hard Place (Teacher)

Teaching at most age levels is a difficult gig.  I speak having taught in both primary school environments  (age 6 - 12)  and at University  (much better I can assure you).  But the current Education system is creaking.  And why?

- Teachers salaries are not exactly stellar

- Some countries (can you guess) may want teachers to do other things ... like carry guns
- Teachers workloads, at least in the UK are pretty overloaded
- Supplemental teaching income, well it's still there, but machine marking, free environments like Coursera and Khan are trending their additional income to zero
- Like many Internet free resources, if you are established, you can use and perhaps participate and benefit somewhat.  But if you are an entry level teacher,  now you sometimes compete against free.  
- Teaching is eminently outsource-able, and thus a difficult sell to any student even if this is their passion in the first world.   (Because we can ship this to a cheaper cost territory which you can't compete with)
- For the University student, it's not exactly rosy either.   Over a 3 year+ course in the UK you build up a huge debt which you need to repay.  In the UK if you subsequently default on this debt, then the taxpayer gets to pay. Hmm.

To Close

So my advice to officialdom is to consider what a future workable Digital Classroom model you need to implement.  And figure out a way to actually pay local teachers and understand if full time teachers will and should exist in the near future.

Meanwhile,  if you are of a certain age, with Digital skills, you know, that right now, you have access to an almost infinite Education resource, and it's free.  Yep, absolutely bonkers.

Example #2: Apple Electronics

(I have learnt so much from Louis and other technical YouTube channels.   To me,  astonishing yet rather scary at the same time)