Monday, January 25, 2010

Bill Gates agrees with us that education is moving online

How is that for an endorsement, Bill Gates today in his annual letter from his Foundation. He outlined how he believes that education is about to be driven online and that this will bring great benefits to everyone. This is where Bill Gates goes to learn about new things and he seems to think the time is now right for an explosion in interest and demand for new educational services online.
Right well we weren’t exactly mentioned by Bill Gates but he’s preaching the exact same message as us.

Education is that last great bastion of community that has yet to really feel the power of the web. Services are getting made and are available now that could really help education today but the establishment have been slow to adopt them. These services are struggling to get noticed and struggling to get the education establishment interest in them. The problem is with the system really as the emphasis is just not there on software and technology as an education enabler. Software is seen as a cost and until it can be viewed by the schools and education department as a great tool for helping students and controlling costs, the first question will always be “How much is this going to cost us?”

Well Bill has a plan that non-profit and corporate forces will collide and make the perfect educational resource available to all for free or near free. Personally I just don’t see it. I think the model has to be more pragmatic than that. A drive on costs to get them as low as possible will enable providers to produce quality online material and courses that can be offered to schools and students for very little. At the moment there are services available now that offer great online courses in subjects for as little as $25 per year, but I believe going forward this will just get cheaper and cheaper until it becomes so competitive and price conscious that we’ll be paying less than $10 a year soon.

I agree with Bill when he says that there is yet a single “great” resource available but this is because no real big players have entered the market yet. This will change and existing players will get better, cheaper and offer more. It’s great to see the exposure that online education is getting and I just hope that this debate truly begins and a spotlight can be shone on the services that offer a great service at a reasonable fee that are in the market trying to drum up interest now.

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