The Scalability Of Education

Can you remember those old “open courseware” movements of the early 2000s? (They were basically just videos filmed from the back of a hundred-person lecture hall that just followed the professor around the class).

Back then, everyone thought this was going to be the future of education, even though the material being taught and the manner in which it was being taught was identical to the in-classroom experience. And as the “open courseware” movement grew in popularity, people couldn’t help but say “we’re scaling education” or “we’re disrupting education!”

But were we really? We don’t think so.

Look at the “disruption” of the news media space. New, “disruptive” media is really no different than its analog counterpart—printed words, printed photos, video footage—the way we digest the media is still the same: read, look, watch.

Sure the photos and news columns have been digitized so we can enjoy them on our iPads as opposed to an actual newspaper, but nothing has been truly disrupted or altered.

In fact, the only thing that has changed in media, the only thing that has been truly disrupted, is the distribution structure of media.

It is the new distribution networks that have enabled entities like The Huffington Post to supplant those like The Detroit Free Press. Advertising dollars have moved from regional newspapers to trending blog sites, but the modes through which news is created or digested haven’t changed at all.

The same is true of education.

A video of a lecture is a new distribution channel, not a new mode of education—scaling the distribution channel is not the same as scaling education itself.

Scaling education means finding a way to scale personal growth in students. A way to not only deliver education but cultivate the skills and knowledge that make up its base.

This is a complex task—how does one truly scale the transmission of skill, knowledge, or philosophy?

The only way we believe we can scale education is through the rapid cultivation of talented educators. But that too requires education, which means instructor training comes with its own unique set of education-scale problem.

The budding entrepreneurs of tomorrow who can find a way to solve the instructor education problem—they will be the winners in the education game going forward. Their innovations will be the catalyst for true scalability in education for the first time in human history.