Education: from “time served” to “stuff learned”

Brilliant, concise summary of the challenges the education “industry” is facing by Tom Friedman in the NYT:

Institutions of higher learning must move […] from a model of “time served” to a model of “stuff learned.” Because increasingly the world does not care what you know. Everything is on Google. The world only cares, and will only pay for, what you can do with what you know. […] We’re moving to a more competency-based world where there will be less interest in how you acquired the competency […] and more demand to prove that you mastered the competency.


The so called MOOC (for Massive Open Online Courses) have had the same effect than Napster had on the music industry: suddenly something that was protected by physical boundaries becomes ubiquitous and free, and nobody really knows what to do next.

But when you think about it, a school has different functions: passing knowledge, delivering a recognized and comparable certificate, networking students, creating a life experience. Only some of these functions are under siege. School’s roadmap for survival is pretty clear: embrace new technologies where they beat real life teaching, and develop what can not be replicated online, like experience or networking.

It is hard to say where education is going, but one thing is sure: if you do not like change don’t go work in that field, because the coming decade is going to be full of surprises.

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