The emergence of the internet, social media and online media has brought with it many detractors. The changes we have all witnessed over the past 20 years have not always been immediately positive, it seems the old guard of media owners have had much to complain about, their investors and boards have watched as their advertising income has dwindled, and the influence of their publications evaporated!
Additionally, the mainstream education investor groups, and those who have made their fortunes by underwriting the universities and colleges of the world have also witnessed a decline in demand for their less ‘core offerings’. Tertiary education, once something to be aspired to and boasted about is no longer relevant to many people; unless you wish to become a lawyer, or medical doctor degrees have tended to become expensive liabilities.
The number of unemployed degree holders seems to be growing in the towns and cities of the western world. But one aspect of the digital revolution, and the opportunity to reach significant numbers of people which is growing, and this is online education.
Beyond the provision of academic subjects, and more traditional fields of study there is a vast range of niche subjects and skill areas which people are discovering to be directly relevant to their lives.
I am talking about the explosion of coaching, and training for specific skills such as:
1. Musical instrument learning
2. Business, and digital marketing skills
3. Creative writing, copy writing, literacy and other languages
4. Self publishing
6. Web development and building digital media
In fact, there is a massive growth of topics, skills and learning areas. The area of physical fitness, diet, exercise and life style engineering is literally exploding online.
Subject specialists and experts of every kind are discovering that digital media offers them an enormous opportunity, social media platforms have sophisticated marketing tools built into them, and these can be leveraged to reach highly specific groups of people.
The internet has not only enabled Silicon Valley moguls to prosper, it has made it possible for entrepreneurial individuals from all across the globe to build very productive and effective learning communities, which are also highly profitable.
The students who have the gumption, and desire to learn can improve their lives, build on their own skills and develop entirely new life chances for themselves and their families. This online education activity has the potential to change things.
Disruption is spoken about, often negatively, but this kind of digital education offers ordinary people a way to build entirely new ways of learning and teaching. And this is not just about video classrooms either, interactive and supportive learning is very possible! Today’s digital tools can provide an amplification of communication, and promotions.
For the subject expert, the opportunity to build their own digital assets, independent to any education institution represents the old dream of owning the means of production. Rather than investment boards dictating curriculum, we have the direct presentation of genuine skills able to be transferred, with students receiving support and encouragement.
The ownership of digital branding, and asset building tends to follow a pattern:
A domain name is purchased. A logo created, a brand identity chosen.
A digital HQ is established using one of the many build options, in my own case I suggest WordPress, this is powerful, flexible, versatile and offers us a total solution.
Supportive groups can be established using social media, this is convenient, cheap and can be offered at scale. The communication options are powerful, and mutual support easily managed, students tend to help one another, people love to be considered knowledgeable and ‘smart’, this allows the course creator to share the load 🙂
By using the full scope of social media we can build these organic, powerful learning communities, we can offer additional services as bonus products, one-to-one tuition, Skype sessions, phone support.
The online learning revolution is egalitarian, relevant to modern people and provides the means for sophisticated and specialized skills to be developed, learned and transmitted to people who are crucially interested. We can build a profitable business from our homes, we can educate thousands of people in a way that cheap to them, and very valuable to us as subject specialists. This is the type of disruption I like very much!