Tonight I stumbled on this TechCrunch article about how education is changing. The author makes some good points:
- MOOCs haven’t fulfilled their promise and it isn’t a lack of great content. People simply don’t complete their courses.
- There has been a surge in education for the purpose of getting a job. I helped DevMountain get off the ground last year, so I saw this firsthand.
- Colleges that leave their graduates without great employment prospects and huge amounts of debt are predatory.
I agree with all of those points, but I don’t agree with the author’s conclusion that this means the Uberization of post-secondary education. As I mentioned in my last post, we need to stop looking at education simply as something that you do to get a job. Education should be something you do to enrich your life that should also lead to better job prospects.
The challenges as I see them are these:
- The traditional system often leaves students unprepared for work with a mound of debt. That’s unacceptable.
- The traditional system isn’t very scalable. If we consider education globally, a post-secondary education is still not truly available to most of the world.
- The completion rates for MOOCs are not promising.
- Few Code Academies can deliver on their promises (those that do are the exception).
- Job training schools tend to have a very narrow focus and prepare people for entry level positions without providing them with a strong foundation for future growth.
I think the answer is that we don’t need to throw the baby out with the bathwater when it comes to traditional post-secondary education. I believe that we can enhance what we do in college with better soft skills training. I think universities should be a lot more careful about their role in lending to students, and they should look for ways to minimize costs. I also think that we owe it to most of the world to figure out how to effectively deliver low-cost instruction that people will complete.
Part of the answer to the MOOC completion problem is blended learning. Experiments in wrapping MOOCs into a blending learning environment (like this one) show that we are still trying to figure out the best way to do this, but there is reason to believe that it could work.