Does Retail Apocalypse Foreshadow A Looming College Armageddon?
Will a “You Tube Education” compete some day with brick and mortar colleges? Will the advantages of online learning, even free online learning, be able to give people more of the education they’re after in a better way than traditional universities? Today’s evident trend is Amazon and independent e-commerce sites making shopping online easier and less expensive than the alternative: driving, parking, crowds and lines. The retail industry has taken some knocks lately with many brick and mortar locations closing for good. Will the power of online libraries and excellence of online information sources make a YouTube education better than sitting in a class with a teacher?
The Roots of The Retail Armageddon
Retail brands have had a bad week so far. So many locations announced their closing at once it’s being referred to as Retail Apocalypse. The term doesn’t just refer to some drum made of hype that online marketers like to bang on to scare people. It’s real. It’s sad. I have an empty location about a mile from my own house whose last tenant was Sears. I used to love going to that store, and bought a lot of stuff there. But I can’t any more.
My town’s loss isn’t unique. This week’s list of brands closing locations also includes Gap, J.C. Penney, Payless and Victoria’s Secret. Chicago’s Family Dollar Store found it hard to compete with Walmart’s scope of selection and low prices. Family Dollar Store announced closings of locations this week, 50 of them across the country. All of these brutal closings are part of a trend. It’s becoming easier for people to substitute trips to these locations with online shopping. As selection, cost and ease of use continues to improve for online shoppers the trend is likely to maintain its velocity away from brick and mortar and towards the net.
What does this mean for the education industry?
It’s obvious that since the Internet and the Web are all about getting information easily, it presents some competition to the old traditional modes of getting information. One of the most costly and difficult ways to get information is going to school. Not only are there brick and mortar costs, there’s safety concerns with the travel and with being crowded together with other students. The core promise of getting an education isn’t enlightenment – it’s being able to find the most ideal job suited to you. That’s why people have always valued the certification of education that comes with completing a degree. But is that certification the ultimate criteria employers are looking for?
When someone can prove their abilities, can demonstrate their value, whether they’ve got a certification or not is an afterthought. When you’re an employer a candidate’s abilities are what’s going to make your operation run better, not their certifications. A certification makes it more likely a candidate will have some basic abilities, but not necessarily so. So having a certification isn’t the be-all end-all like abilities are.
When You Need A New Ability You Go For a YouTube Education
It’s so easy to find multiple voices, expert voices, instructing you what to do on YouTube. Whether it’s how to boil rice or how to learn the secrets of tax laws, YouTube is going to have experts making videos about it.
Almost everything you want to learn you can learn on YouTube, from the really important subjects to the trivial.
Experts make videos on YouTube because they’re looking for leads for their business, want to demonstrate proficiency or technique, or just out of the motivation to share and see other people find their knowledge useful. Whether it’s physics or fishing there’s so many alternative voices, convincing influences with conflicting opinions. Not only can you find differing ideas about the same subject, you can find videos that match your learning style. You can rewind, pause, play it back as much as you like and take each thing you learn in at your own pace. Sometimes, if the stream is live, you can ask the expert questions and get immediate answers. It’s scary how superior learning from YouTube is compared to learning in the classroom.
Whether it’s construction, programming, news, video game tips or how to take care of pets, you can learn on YouTube what other people think you should know.
Will this relatively new and improving medium someday be superior to learning in a classroom from expert teachers?
The amount of content is growing and growing. So is its quality. What will YouTube be like In 10 years from now when the content on YouTube has grown, matured and been selected by audiences for quality? It takes only extrapolating what we see today and very little imagination to be certain it’s going to include even more useful and easy to use information.
Is there something about attending a college that can’t be replaced by a YouTube education?
Going to a school for young people is an important place to learn social skills. Conformity, self-control, adaptation and conversation skills are things that aren’t natural talents for a lot of kids and school gives them a place to practice. Physical education, being forced to write and practice math in a production-conductive environment isn’t as easy to maintain at home as it is in schools. Brick and mortar universities and some high schools are integrating online courses with their classroom subjects affirming that you don’t necessarily need to attend a class to maintain a curriculum. So what are colleges offering to students that attend classes compared with students who don’t?
Having a social life, being around other students, living on campus and being immersed in an academic environment are the irreplaceable advantages of attending a university in person. These experiences can’t be duplicated by getting a degree online. Are any of those experiences necessarily tied to having the kind of abilities employers are looking for? It’s hard to correlate a relationship there. But people who attend colleges and universities value these experiences. It’s up to brick and mortar universities to change and improve just as rapidly, experiment and take risks. Scary new disruptive ideas that decentralize the educational experience away from the classroom will need to be prioritized before tenure and pensions for the sake of survival of the institution. After all, they’ve got free YouTube education to compete with.
The Real Authority To Teach Comes From Accomplishment Outside the Classroom
Is learning a skill from a teacher as valuable as learning from the person who invented technique or technology? It only takes one expert to share a video that can get a million views. When you’ve got the choice to learn from someone profiting greatly from their rare ability or from a career educator there’s no contest. Videos are being uploaded right now by experts in every field. If you ask someone who is a thought leader in their field how to understand something chances are they’re going to send you some links to web pages and YouTube videos. Odds are they won’t be recommending the college curriculum that leads to the same understanding. Today’s experts are already recommending one form of education over another when they do this. They’re already selling YouTube education.