A Coming Shock To Education

“The future always comes too fast and in the wrong order.” 

Alvin Toffler, Future Shock 

The COVID-19 pandemic is perhaps the biggest catalyst to trends that have been around since broadband services became available. In 2 months, many of us have learned that it is possible to work out of home, that we can learn nearly anything from cooking recipes to programming languages by a simple search on YouTube, that the dressing up & commuting for a few hours is not really necessary to be productive. 

I believe that one industry that is being changed long term is education. I echo Naval Ravikant’s thought that schools are a form of day care. Schools are where we are dropping off kids for 7 hours a day 5 or 6 days a week in hopes they learn something. In the current schooling system, parents meet & evaluate the teachers once every 3-4 months and cannot truly judge their teachers. While some Indian startups like Byjus, Vedantu etc are trying to solve the problem, I think that they suffer from the all or nothing problem that schools also offer.  

What is the all or nothing problem you ask? 

The all or nothing problem is inherent to our current schooling structure and has 2 aspects, the teachers and the syllabus. If you pick a school, you pick all the teachers that come with it. A child cannot pick a teacher for a subject, and many a times, the feeling a student has towards a teacher gets transferred to the subject. The school also has a syllabus recommended by an authority. A teacher cannot go beyond the syllabus for a given year. A student who is excellent in math may not be able to learn more about his/her favorite as it is out of syllabus. 

With online classes as they are happening now, parents are seeing firsthand the quality of education their children are getting from schools. And they may or may not be impressed by the way a teacher teaches. 

The internet eliminates the all or nothing problem I mention above. With the internet, a child can their favorite teacher from a near endless list of teachers making & uploading their content on YouTube. You can break this down even further where the child can have 3 or 4 different “teachers” who teach different topics of that same subject. For example, a child may like one teachers’ explanation on trigonometry and another teacher’s explanation on quadratic equations. This helps kids learn better, learn on their schedule & understand concepts that perhaps their schoolteacher is doing a poor job of explaining. 

For teachers too, this opens large opportunities. Teachers can record themselves teaching, create interesting graphics to explain a point better and simply by monetizing their content with ads, can reach kids on the internet for virtually free, while getting paid by Google. There are many other ways that they can get remunerated, like having a subscription built in where the teacher can have a one on one session with every subscriber, or special questions or topics that only subscribing students can get. 

I understand that there will be concerns around how students will be able to socialize, learn soft skills, interact with others. I think we will be able to develop apps that let parents and children meet up based on the area of residence, age and even based on the topic of interest.  

I highly recommend you read Professor Scott Galloway’s blog on how the COVID-19 is going to change college education is as well.

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