The commoditization of education… and content

Obama’s laudable plan to make community colleges free adds to the headaches of premium educational institutions – how to differentiate myself from ‘free’? If there is a ‘good enough’ free offer, why would I pay for premium? The same applies to content and is a headache for publishers: If there is a ‘good enough’ free offer, why would I pay for premium?

All ‘hard’ industries have suffered this:

  • Samsung vs. low cost manufacturers, such as Xiaomi, Motorola, Google One
  • The car industry – now all cars are ‘good enough’.
  • Etc.

And now the service sector is facing it too. For most it’s become a Red Ocean situation, with tons of other fishermen all fishing for the same fish. The founders of Cirque Du Soleil reinvented the circus – eliminating the animals and brought in a whole new type of customer – the kind that is willing to spend $50-100 for a performance.

Are publishers (and educational establishments) ready and able to find the Blue Ocean? I most cases, I fear not, not for them, but for the important people, the learners.

I want to see audacious strategies which will add value (ie, real learning of life skills) current educational offers from publishers, institutions and education systems. I feel the beginning of this well be to:

  • provide a seamless learning experience anywhere, any time, with no perceptible difference after stepping over the theshhold of the classroom
  • provide real life, real material based learning, keeping students ‘on task’ and providing situated learning
  • moving to ‘just-in-time’ publishing and embracing the ephemeral media and channels youg learners use and enjoy
  • moving to a focus on the learning process and not content
  • evaluating competence and not knowledge

But that’s the beginning. The future of publishing and education will embrace IOT, AR in amazing ways and radically change the role of teacher facilitator so that she truly becomes invaluable. It will embrace peer teaching and User Generated Content.

All this requires looking into, and beginning to work on, the middle-distance, not the day to day. Who will be brave enough?

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