Do smart students go to college? Or does college make students smart?
I was reading an article at slate.com that was talking about the pivot of Udacity.
The gist of the article was Udacity is a startup that raised 20 million dollars and was working on bringing a full college education online for cheap. They have 1.6 million users and realized a very low % of people are completing courses. The ones that are completing would be completing college or community college courses anyways.
Their goal was to serve the underserved and it’s not working.
I think this pushes the needle in the direction of the first statement. Smart people go to college. Not college makes people smart.
If we’re already serving the smart people the question becomes:
How do we educate people that are failing in the current college education environment?
I can tell you this bringing boring lectures online isn’t going to help anything. There is even more distractions and less engagement if you ask me. I consider myself a good student and can’t even make it through a whole course. Why? Because life gets in the way. There’s always something more important and/or more fun.
Based on the question above we need to ask ourselves:
Why are people failing in the current college education environment?
There’s a few of reasons I think.
1. Cost prohibitive – Although I don’t think this is a massive portion of people that could go to college and don’t due to lack of funds. There’s a community college feeder system that feeds into 4 years universities. Community colleges are relatively cheap and in my opinion as good of an education as a 4 year school a lot of the time.
2. They’re not engaged – t’s easy to say “well that’s their problem, they need to learn to…”. But this statement is counter productive. Often times in life we look at things as they way they should be vs. the way they are. I think it’s VERY important to look at things the way they actually are in order to answer the questions and solve the problems. We’re not going to get a society to change who they are. We can only build things that help steer them in the right direction while doing what they’re already doing.
3. They are bored with things not applicable to getting a job – (other then the diploma). I found in college I learned a lot about things I had no interest in. Which eventually made me drop out and go study on my own. To this day I still study and read at least 2-3 hours a day. But, school and their methodologies didn’t work for me.
So those are our 3 issues as I see them. The Udacity’s of the world are only working on solving 1 of the problems as I see it. They’re going to serve the small group of people that can’t afford the money or time to go to community college. Most likely if they can’t afford the time they’re too busy to take it online as well. If they can’t afford the money for $100/quarter then I’m not sure this is going to be a lot cheaper.
They’re not addressing the other issues at all. A complete solution for this space needs to address all of these. Which is what we’re doing at http://www.pixlwise.com. We’re building fun engaging environments first. Then layering in the education second.
At the end of the day learning happens through studying, trial/error and repetition. Online is an amazing medium to accomplish all these things in fun engaging environments.