Online Education May Be Poised to Replace Dying Universities

Higher education is in the middle of an elaborate suicide ritual. It’s implements are:

  • skyrocketing costs to students

  • financial failure

  • outdated content (often by decades)

  • an academic infrastructure that seeks tenure rather than excellence

  • an extreme-left attack on freedom of speech

These are all combining to put traditional universities at risk.

It’s hard impossible to predict the future, but the way I see this going is like so:

  1. Many public universities will get purchased by the Chinese and will get turned into what equate to trade schools for hard-working Asian students in high-demand fields, e.g., data science.

  2. A number of them will go private, since the rich (see highly educated parents) are the only people who can afford to send their kids to school.

  3. A massive percentage of the universities will just shut down.

What will replace universities for regular folks will be online education that focus on fresher content with far less administrative bloat. Once the old system topples over due to being top-heavy, it will free up a massive amount of resources that were trapped within the system. Most notably—professors.

Right now the universities still have most of the professors, but those jobs are largely peaked out and limited. In the online world educators will have the chance to become actual influencers, with a brand around their personal teaching style. They’ll have YouTube content, specific styles of teaching certain content, etc., and they’ll be sought after by these new educational institutions.

There will be some downsides. It’s hard to replace being in a specific location to learn. And the time spent in college is incomparable in many ways as a pure life experience. But the new institutions might emulate this by renting out or building other spaces. Perhaps even buying or renting the old universities.

University politics are supposedly only slightly less ugly than church politics, with both being so repulsive precisely because they shouldn’t exist at all.

The key element, however, will be the destruction of the old guard. Tenure, rank, bitter wars between professors regarding respect and status, the teaching of old content, the focus on theory vs. practice, etc. All these things will be rigorously attacked by a new mindset that focuses on the personality of the teacher, the freshness of the content, and most importantly—the measurable benefits that one receives by attending that course or set of courses.

I think groups will set up custom degrees that have a particular mixture of liberal arts, creativity, business, philosophy, combined with STEM skills. They’ll be like prix fixe menus at restaurants, and hiring organizations will have preferences for those with certificates from one program or another.

It’ll be more like a collection of badges from great sets of content, from great teachers, than a universal badge from an old university.

So instead of getting a degree from the University of Wyoming, you’ll have certificates from:

  • Modern History, by Christopher Hitchens

  • Dialectic Engagement, By Sam Harris

  • Economics and Philosophy, by Benedict Evans

  • Decisions in Randomness, by Nassim Taleb

  • Creative Voice, by Natasha Brandish

  • The Great Wars, by Dan Carlin

These will be the best courses out there, on the best topics, and employers will want people who understand this material.

The old system seems ready to fall. I can’t wait to see if something like this comes after it.

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