A few months ago, I wrote that the dominant education business model may suffer the same fate as the manufacturing industry – commoditization.
At a certain point in time (2008?) the cost-benefits of a university education will be put in question. How expensive does it have to be before the majority opt out or look for “good enough” options? Once a certification body gets recognized by enough employers, it could become the de facto as well as the de jure standard.
The leading edge of this change can be seen in language learning. Ken Carroll calls his FrenchPod service a PLS, or Praxis Learning System:
From the get-go (2005) our strategy was to apply web 2.0 tools to do new things for language learning (with the two-way medium, RSS syndication, etc). It was designed for the individual (rather than the institution) with a focus on accessibility. The value creation came through fitting the learning into the learner’s lifestyle (rather than the other way around) and allowing him to hit the ground running with a functioning system.
Another language learning service is offered by EduFire, an agora of tutors and learners using video to connect. Tutors set their own rates, which range from $10 to $150 an hour.
Our goal is to create a platform to allow live learning to take place over the Internet anytime from anywhere.
Most importantly…for anyone. We’re the first people (we know) to create something that’s totally open and community-driven (rather than closed and transaction-driven).
These web-based business and learning models may be the next wave of education and just might challenge the traditional state-subsidized educational systems, beginning with higher education. Why? Because they can grow without increasing costly infrastructure; they are more flexible for learners and teachers; and most importantly, the current system has already commoditized its products. Just ask anyone with a newly-minted Bachelor’s degree looking for a job.