The future of online learning belongs to small-size learning and learning anywhere.
Do you listen to music? Do you observe how you listen to music? It is random, depends on mood, maybe 5 songs in a row, maybe 1 or 2. Usually coupled with other simultaneous activities like Jogging or driving. You must be wondering what has music to do with education. Well, that’s the way online learning is going. The future belongs to small-size learning or problem solving and learning anywhere.
The Long-forgotten past:
A long time ago, people use to listen to music when someone else played for them and then Thomas Edison, invented phonograph in 1877. The year saw the first machine that could both record music and play it back. People were excited about the change.
The changes in technology:
In the 1890s, the transition to using flat disc records began, recognisable even today as a record. The main advantage of the disc record was that it could be more easily mass-produced. In 1958, RCA would change the future of home music consumption by introducing the RCA tape cartridge. An innovation possibly even more important than the cassette itself, however, was released by Sony in 1979: the Walkman. The advent of CD in 1980 and the advent of Mp3 in 1990. The inevitable rise of peer-to-peer music sharing resulted in one of the most infamous companies of the Internet age: Napster. All of these changes made music more accessible, cheaper to everyone. Then came the destroyer the Apple iPod, in 2001. The first generation iPod was a monster, containing a 5 GB hard drive that held 1,000 songs in your pocket. More important was the release in 2003 of iTunes 4 on Windows which changed everything and made Apple the biggest tech-music company in the world.
If you notice what happened in the music industry over the years is you can now listen to what you want. You don’t have to buy an album anymore, You now pay for one song when you download it or buy a subscription for access to the library. You can consume music at your will and any kind of music from a library of your choice. Self Education or self-learning:
The Streaming Revolution:
Pandora Launched in 2005, it pioneered the style of music recommendation service that would grow to become one of the biggest trends in modern music.Within the past few years, online streaming has surpassed digital music sales, adding to the worries that allowing listeners to access music for free (or very nearly free; a premium subscription to Spotify is only $10 per month)
What I have learnt in running an education startup is the fact students are more focused on getting the problem solved, the immediate task in hand, the project they are working on.
They don’t want to spend a long time mastering it, a quick fix, an immediate medicine to take the pain away. They will explore and if you have a solution now and they will be hooked on to it. The solution has to be simple and less time-consuming.
Coming to music part, the trends we noticed in music is evident in education, Every time there is a change in the music industry it is called that this will revolutionise education. Radio, Cassettes & CDs all were supposed to bring change in education. Things are clear now and it seems both industries are on the same destination. We either pay for the short course or subscriptions for the learning platform which is similar to music.
The traditional education is going to remain the same, that’s not changing or going anywhere.
There are a large number of players in the online learning market and it will remain like that and everyone can be profitable. The market is huge and it involves many disciplines from cooking to dancing to software. The key is the time of the module. Keep it beyond half an hour and die a slow death. Keep it short and to the point and you will gain tremendously.
When I began learning online, I realised it takes a huge effort in self-learning and coupled with too many distractions and I am sure a normal person would give up learning right after the first two lessons. Now the first thing I check now is how much time the course is going to take. If it is taking more than 2–3 hours a week I give up. That’s how the behaviour of normal consumer would be. We are more interested in giving up or trying later than putting up the hard work.
I realised the biggest difference between music and education is that the latter is no entertainment. It is hard work.
If I keep it short and attempt, again and again, I will be able to finish the course. Of the survey that we conducted among our students. 90% use devices to study and 95% are willing to pay for the content (self-learning) if it adds value. However, the modules need to be small and quick learning.
The online education industry needs to make learning interesting and entertaining. Keep learning like music, let people attempt many courses and a wide variety of genres like business, art, software etc. Let people gain skills they never thought they will and that’s the future we look forward to.
Originally published at https://www.linkedin.com on June 29, 2017.