The pandemic has forced a rethinking of physical learning spaces and has revitalized online learning. The convergence of creators, content, and communities allows experts to provide world-class, relevant instruction at unprecedented scale, convenience, and cost. Continuous learning thus becomes a shared, distributed journey, enabling the unbundling of the traditional university experience.
It’s clear that free online courses have not resulted in a more educated workforce. Flooded by content from “factories” that publish generic mass-market videos, users are gravitating towards niche courses taught by experts in the field. Organizing themselves into high-engagement cohorts, users are ready to deep-dive and apply skills taught by masters.
Many experts that would otherwise be happy to teach a broad audience are struggling to monetize their content on ad-based platforms. The platforms that help creators productize and distribute quality courses with proven results will spearhead the unbundling of platforms like YouTube, who have incentivized quantity over quality.
While the evolution of the physical experience is well underway, unique value still exists with quality professors, a varied curriculum, and extracurricular activities with a student body. New models for colleges that combine modern flexibility and pragmatism with the old world college experience will see adoption from a wide spectrum of prospective students.
Skills that go unused are forgotten, and when they’re needed again, workers are at a loss. The rigid four-year degree has not kept up with evolving job requirements; in response, employers have begun to redirect investments into their employees’ skills. The winners of this will make learning routine and engaging, avoiding the pitfalls that many mandatory firm-wide initiatives face.